THE ROLE OF AN IMMIGRANT MOTHER IN HER ADOLESCENT’S IDENTITY FORMATION: “WHO AM I?”

Abstract

Immigration is a complex bio-psycho-social process and the immigrant mother has a truly complex task in lending her ego strength to her adolescent offspring. The normal adolescence’s decathexis of the love object and the consequent search for a new object may not happen smoothly for those adolescents whose mothers are immigrants. The immigration experience may cause the immigrant mother, who lost her motherland, deeper disturbance in self-identity as well as disequilibrium in her psychic structure, which in turn impacts adversely her adolescent’s development. The adolescent’s inadequate early experience with an immigrant mother may result in a deeper disturbance in his separation-individuation process as well as his identification process. An immigrant mother who has not mourned adequately, with a different sociocultural background has to go through a far more complex development of motherhood. The case of an adolescent boy, Jason, demonstrates the impact of immigrant motherhood on his ego development.

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Correspondence to Mali Mann.

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1Mali Mann, M.D., is Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst, child supervisor at San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis. Clinical Professor, Adjunct, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University Medical Center.

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Mann, M. THE ROLE OF AN IMMIGRANT MOTHER IN HER ADOLESCENT’S IDENTITY FORMATION: “WHO AM I?”. Am J Psychoanal 76, 122–139 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1057/ajp.2016.9

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Keywords

  • cultural identity
  • self identity
  • mother tongue
  • loss
  • mourning separation-individuation process