A Potent Spell: Mother Love and the Power of Fear

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Jun 8, 2004 - Family & Relationships - 289 pages
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An intriguing exploration of the psychology of mothering, A Potent Spell demonstrates how a mother's deep, abiding drive to protect and care for a child has created a profound, and often exploited, vulnerability in women. With historical evidence, interviews, and personal experience, the psychotherapist Janna Malamud Smith brings a rich sensibility and rare intelligence to this subject.
No mother will be a stranger to the guilt, fear, and worry surrounding the effort to keep her child safe. Smith centers her book on these rip-tide emotions and their manipulation by American society and media. Groundbreaking and thoroughly illuminating, A Potent Spell "should cast a beacon upon a history of prejudice and bad science" (San Francisco Chronicle).

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A potent spell: mother love and the power of fear

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

A clinical psychotherapist and social worker, Smith offers a unique take on the experience of motherhood. She posits that a mother's all-consuming need to keep her child safe renders her vulnerable ... Read full review

Review: A Potent Spell

User Review  - Jada Roche - Goodreads

An interesting but unsatisfying read...possibly because many of the conclusions in the book are ones I found myself at years ago as I started parenting. It's a very dry read, and really wasn't what I ... Read full review


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Page xi - No, sir. -Ugly and futile: lean neck and tangled hair and a stain of ink, a snail's bed. Yet someone had loved him, borne him in her arms and in her heart. But for her the race of the world would have trampled him under foot, a squashed, boneless snail. She had loved his weak, watery blood drained from her own. Was that then, real? The only true thing in life?
Page 269 - A Token for Children. Being an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children.
Page 8 - When the Greek women married, they disappeared from public life; within the four walls of their home they devoted themselves to the care of their household and family. This is the mode of life prescribed for women alike by nature and reason.

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About the author (2004)

JANNA MALAMUD SMITH is author of two New York Times Notable books, A Potent Spell and Private Matters, which was a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” pick. She has written for the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Threepenny Review, among other publications. A practicing psychotherapist, she lives with her husband and two children in Massachusetts.

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