Motherhood in Illness & Recovery


Researchers in Norway, publishing in the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing,  explore the experiences of being a mother with mental illness; “their way of struggling to become good enough mothers, managing to become the mother they longed to be, being present in the caring relationship with their child, as well as being recognized as a mother and living openly and honestly in relationships with others.” They conclude that “Addressing the existential needs of motherhood is important for their improvement and recovery, as well as for promoting their children’s mental health and well-being.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. This is so validating. I know that this issue of madness and motherhood is integral for many women. Having the validity of my maternal capability and devotion called into question as a result of my mental health history and a period of disorder spurned by mismedication and psychosocial stressors created an enormous amount of emotional trauma, for both me and my children. I have, for the past year or so, been working here-and-there on a collection of reflective narrative accounts that examine what happens at the intersection of madness and motherhood. I know there are some other folks who are working on similar projects and I am glad that people are beginning to recognize that denying a mother her motherness, just as denying a child their mother, actually creates dysfunction and a deep, lasting distress. Here is a link to the initial framework for my narrative-heavy version of a madness and motherhood project. If you know anyone who needs to share her story, please let them know. Thanks again for giving this research some attention.

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