good-enough mother

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A concept introduced in 1953 by the English psychoanalyst Donald Woods Winnicott (1896–1971) to denote a mother who initially behaves towards a totally dependent infant just how the infant wishes, allowing the infant to feel all-powerful and to maintain the fantasy that the mother is a part of itself, and who later allows the child to abandon this fantasy and separate from her in an orderly way. A mother who is too intrusive (too good) interferes with the child's separation and development of selfhood, and a mother who is too distant (not good enough) generates anxiety in the child; in either case the failure to supply good-enough mothering can disrupt the development of the child's self-concept, and as an adult the ability to form meaningful relationships.

Subjects: Psychology.

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