Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Mother-Daughter Relationship in Pakistani Muslim Culture

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Mother-Daughter Relationship in Pakistani Muslim Culture

Article excerpt

The present study undertook an exploration of mother-daughter relationship in a Pakistani Muslim context. Data was gathered from seven women of diverse age groups ranging from twenties to sixties through creative interviewing technique. Data analysis was done through discursive psychology. The analysis revealed that whereas social constructions of daughters resound with other focused identities and strong moral and economic discourses, it is usually a daughter rather than a son whom a mother perceives as a part of herself. Thus, in a social context which is highly male dominated, mother-daughter relationship forms a basic and highly reciprocal matrix of a woman to woman socialization which serves functions of adjustment, sharing and sustaining women's familial relationships.

Keywords: mother, daughter, Muslims, culture

The current exploration into mother-daughter relationship comes from its underrepresentation in Psychology as we teach and learn it in Pakistan, and also observations of broader cultural traditions that overshadow it.

The beginning point of Psychology courses at an intermediate level in Pakistan is an "official version" of Freud's theory with Oedipus and Electra complex explanations of formation of gender identity; the son represses his feelings towards the mother and in identifying with father, develops a masculine identity. However, the corresponding Electra complex, although following same dynamics of identification, ends up in a quite different way from Oedipus complex. Whereas this 'unfolding' of what is considered here a natural biological pattern, ends up in a "gains" for a son of an appropriate masculine identity, for a daughter it results in an everlasting inferiority over a loss of not having masculinity. An accompanying blame for her mother for this loss presents an overall picture of mother-daughter relationship being judged in hyper-masculine terms. Alongside this development of identity of both the sexes along masculine standards, we see both complexes involve parting with the mother (the feminine) of both the sexes either through repression or negative feelings of blame. In so far as above 90 % of students in introductory Psychology courses in Pakistan are adolescent girls, a skewed emphasis on Freud in contrast to other 20th century theories within psychoanalysis raises concerns regarding this picture where development and maintenance of identity in particular, presents a woman's sense of self as it appears to men.

Objective and scientific discoveries about girls' development of identity still have Freud as lens and are quite normatively applied across cultures without a consideration to their relevance. Scientific studies, for example, concluding losing of self-esteem of a girl way down adolescence and resulting largely from how they perceive themselves being evaluated by boys of same age, resonate with Freud's emphasis on a girl's establishing her self-concept through making herself attractive for men. Physical maturation is conceived as being less positive for girls than boys (Brooks-Gunn & Peterson, 1983; Simmons & Blyth, 1987) especially their relational identity primarily formulated against masculine vision of themselves rather than in its own right. In contrast to this view of woman's identity as shaped by men around her, a woman to woman relational identity, of which mother-daughter relationship is a basic form, receive either neglect or degradation in both old and new mainstream psychologies which form our curricula, ss Chodorow (1978) puts it, "it seems as if there is a long way to go before the individual inhabiting social and developmental psychology books will give way to a woman's perspective".

Apart from how Freud dominates our teaching and research practice, his accounts as Totem, Taboo, Moses, and Monotheisms, have stories of father and son recapitulating them in development of both the individual at phallic stage and evolution of religions. …

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