Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Mother, Madonna, Whore: The Idealisation and Denigration of Motherhood

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 04 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:c7155
  1. Pamela Ashurst, retired consultant medical psychotherapist, Southampton
  1. pmashurst{at}

It is a truth universally acknowledged that women, being in want of a penis, lack the necessary means for perversion. Or so it was until the publication in 1988 of Mother, Madonna, Whore. This seminal work by Estela Welldon was based on her experience of working as a consultant forensic psychotherapist at the Portman Clinic in London.

She challenged the accepted wisdom that women did not suffer from perversions. Her original ideas sent shockwaves through the psychoanalytic community and the feminist theorist circles of the time, …

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