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Palgrave Macmillan

The Existential Crisis of Motherhood

  • Book
  • © 2020


  • Offers an existential perspective on experiences of motherhood and maternal mental health
  • Examines different experiences of being a mother, as well as those of fathers and women who choose to remain child-free
  • Explores the philosophical tensions of being a mother, the social and cultural impacts on and of motherhood, and various implications for clinical practice

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Table of contents (16 chapters)

  1. Existential Crisis: The Philosophical Tensions of Being a Mother

  2. Maternal Mental Health Crisis: Understanding Maternal Mental Health from an Existential Perspective

  3. Social Crisis: An Existential Understanding of the Impact on Motherhood of Social and Cultural Aspects

  4. Working with Existential Crisis in Clinical Practice


About this book

This book offers a new perspective on the motherhood experience. Drawing on existential philosophy and recent phenomenological research into motherhood, the book demonstrates how motherhood can be understood as an existential crisis. It argues that an awareness of the existential issues women face will enable mothers to gain a deeper understanding of the multifaceted aspects of their experience. The book is divided into four sections: Existential Crisis, Maternal Mental Health Crisis, Social Crisis and Working with Existential Crisis, where each section. Each chapter is based on either experiential research or the author’s extensive therapeutic experience of working with mothers and reflects different aspects of the motherhood journey, all through the lens of a philosophical existential approach. The book is essential reading for mental health practitioners and researchers working with mothers, midwives and health visitors, but it is also written for mothers, with the aim to offer newinsights on this important life transition. 

Editors and Affiliations

  • The New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, London, UK

    Claire Arnold-Baker

About the editor

Claire Arnold-Baker is a counselling psychologist and existential psychotherapist specialising in working with mothers. She is also Course Leader of the DCPsych Programme, a joint programme with The New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling and Middlesex University, UK.

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