Bad Mother Good Mother

Sullivan's notion of the bad-mother and good-mother is shnilar to Klein's concept of the bad breast and good breast. The bad-mother personification, in fact, grows out of the infant's experiences with the bad-nipple: that is, the nipple that does not satisfy hunger needs. Whether the nipple belongs to the mother or to a bottle held by the mother, the father, a nurse, or anyone else is not important. The bad-mother personification is almost completely undifferentiated, inasmuch as it includes everyone involved hi the nursing situation. It is not an ac curate hnage of the "real" mother but merely the infant's vague representation of not being properly fed.

After the bad-mother personification is formed, an infant will acquire a good-mother personification based on the tender and cooperative behaviors of the mothering one. These two personifications, one based on the infant's perception of an anxious, malevolent mother and the other based on a cahn, tender mother, combine to form a complex personification composed of contrasting qualities projected onto the same person. Until the infant develops language, however, these two opposing hnages of mother can easily coexist (Sullivan, 1953b).

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Anxiety and Depression 101

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