What is the meaning of mother fixation?
Mother fixation is a concept that relates to the Oedipus Complex, which is one of the stages in the psychosexual development of the male child that is characterised by a strong attraction to the maternal figure and rivals the paternal one. This phase can be overcome or not, depending on the relationship with both parents.
If children are unable to detach themselves from their mothers, they can become fixated on this phase and experience difficulties in growing up emotionally and establishing healthy relationships.
Mom fixation can occur in the oral, anal or phallic phase, and can generate neurotic or immature behaviour in adulthood.
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When can the mother fixation happen?
In psychoanalysis, mother fixation occurs when there is an interruption or regression in the child’s psychosexual development, which causes the child to remain attached to the mother as an object of love and pleasure. This can happen for various reasons, such as:
- An excessively gratifying or frustrating relationship with the mother in the oral phase: In this stage, which lasts from birth to 18 months, the child obtains pleasure through the mouth, sucking, chewing, etc. The mother is the main object that satisfies this need. If the mother is too indulgent or too neglectful of the child, the baby can get stuck in this phase and find it difficult to separate from the mother and seek out other objects and other ways of pleasure.
- A conflicted relationship with the father in the phallic stage: In this phase, which lasts from the age of 3 to 6, the child gets pleasure from the genitals, through manipulation. The child develops an unconscious desire for the parent of the opposite sex and a struggle with the parent of the same sex. This is the Oedipus complex, which must be overcome for the child to identify with their sex and prepare for the genital phase. If the father is too absent, or repressive, the child may become fixated on the mother and not resolve the Oedipus complex.
- An unsatisfactory relationship with the partner in the genital stage: In this phase, which runs from puberty to adulthood, the person obtains pleasure from the complete sexual relationship, through the integration of partial impulses. The person chooses a loving partner who replaces the infantile objects. If the relationship with the partner is problematic, the person may regress to previous stages and look to the mother for a source of comfort and security.
What is fixation in psychology?
Fixation means an unconscious resistance to leave childhood and face the frustrations and disappointments of adult life.
Fixation can occur in any stage of the psychosexual development, because an issue in the libidinal stage persisted and remained unresolved, leaving the person unable to move on healthily to the next stage.
Psychoanalysis proposes that fixation can be overcome through a therapeutic process that aims to make conscious the unconscious conflicts that generated the fixation and allow the individual to free themselves from the bonds of the past.
The relationship between therapist and patient is fundamental to this process, as it involves transference and countertransference, which are the feelings and fantasies that the patient and therapist project onto each other, reproducing childhood relationships.
Why does an individual get stuck in the mother fixation stage?
A person can become attached to their mother for various reasons, but this usually has to do with the way the emotional attachment between them developed in childhood. The mother is the baby’s first object of love and their main source of satisfaction and security. If this bond is broken, threatened or insufficient, the baby can develop separation anxiety and a need to cling to the mother to feel protected.
On the other hand, if the bond is too intense, or possessive, the baby may find it difficult to differentiate themselves from their mother and become an autonomous individual. In this case, the mother can represent both love and domination, and the baby can oscillate between dependence and rebellion.
In both cases, the person can become fixated on the oral phase of psychosexual development, which is the phase where pleasure is centred on the mouth and the relationship with the mother’s breast. This fixation can generate personality traits such as dependence, passivity, aggression, or narcissism.
Psychoanalysis can help people understand and overcome this fixation, working on the unconscious conflicts behind it and enabling a healthier and more balanced relationship with the mother and other objects of love.
What are the implications of mother fixation?
In psychoanalysis, mother fixation can have different implications, depending on the stage of psychosexual development at which it occurs.
Fixation is the persistence of a part of the libido in a primitive stage, which prevents the individual from progressing to the next stages.
The most common implications of mom fixation are:
- Men seeking women who resembles their mothers, which brings about unresolved issues from childhood, thus conflicts are highly likely to occur.
- Erectile problems or low sexual desire if the wife and/or girlfriend reminds too much of his mother.
- Difficulty with authority figures such as bosses, teachers, police officers.
- Becoming overprotective, controlling, or affectionate towards their same-sex child. Or distant, critical, and hostile towards their opposite-sex child.
How to fix mother fixation?
The best way to overcome mother fixation is going through psychoanalytic analysis since this approach works with the unconscious conflicts that maintain the fixation.
CBT can also help, but most of the time, it is unproductive, since Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is reduced to thought reprogramming techniques, such as challenging thoughts like “My mother is the only one who loves me” into the following challenge questioning by asking yourself “Is this thought true?”, “Is this thought helpful?”, or “What evidence do I have for this thought?”
However, mother fixation is much more than faulty thinking, it can hinder many areas of an individual life such as forming constructive relationships.
Therefore, psychoanalysis is the best therapy recommended to fix mother fixation.