Marked By Maternal Depression: The Images Of The Mother In The Therapy Of An Elementary School Child



The paper deals with the issue of the influence chronic depression in the mother exercises on the psychological functioning of the elementary school child. Despite the fact that parental depression, especially in mothers, is a risk factor for social and psychological disorders in children, most studies focus on postpartum depression. We give an example of social withdrawal and peer rejection in a case of a 9-year-old boy who goes through analytic therapy. The images of his relationship with his mother which emerge during sandplay therapy expose his attitude towards the world as an unpredictable, and deadly dangerous place. The dynamics of sand pictures reveals the importance of maternal object and its vital place in the inner world of a child in comparison with other social objects, and gradual changes for a picture of a more understandable and predictable world to deal with.

General Information

Keywords: maternal depression, elementary school, social withdrawal

Journal rubric: Essay


For citation: Fedunina N.Y. Marked By Maternal Depression: The Images Of The Mother In The Therapy Of An Elementary School Child. Konsul'tativnaya psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya = Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy, 2017. Vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 98–108. DOI: 10.17759/cpp.2017250306. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Batnya V. Miry na peske. Pesochnaya terapiya [Worlds on sand. Sandplay therapy]. Riga: Izdevnieciba RaKa Publ., 2010. 291 p.
  2. Bradbury R. Nadvigaetsya beda: per. s angl [Something wicked this way comes]. Moscow: Igra-tekhnika Publ., 1992. 208 p. (In Russ.).
  3. Volikova S.V., Kalinkina E.A. Parent-child relationships as a factor of school bullying. Konsul’tativnaya psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya [Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy], 2015. Vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 138—161. doi:10.17759/cpp.2015230409. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)
  4. Galich A. Ya veril v chudo. Pesni i stikhi [I believed in a miracle. Songs and poems]. Moscow: RDShA Publ.; Uprpoligrafizdat Publ., 1991. 239 p.
  5. Grin A. Mertvaya mat’ [The dead mother]. In A. Zhibo, A.V. Rossokhin (eds.) Frantsuzskaya psikhoanaliticheskaya shkola [French psychoanalysis school]. Saint Petersburg: Piter Publ., 2005, pp. 333—361. (In Russ.)
  6. Aktar E., Colonnesi C., de Vente W., Majdandžić M., Bögels S.M. How do parents’ depression and anxiety, and infants’ negative temperament relate to parent—infant face-to-face interactions? Development and Psychopathology. 2017. Vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 697—710. doi:10.1017/S0954579416000390
  7. Brooten D., Gennaro S., Brown L.P., Butts P., Gibbons A.L., Bakewell-Sachs S., Kumar S.P. Anxiety, depression, and hostility in mothers of preterm infants. Nursing Research, 1988. Vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 213—216.
  8. Cohn J.F., Tronick E.Z. Three-month-old infants’ reaction to simulated maternal depression. Child Development, 1983. Vol. 54, no.1, pp. 185—193.
  9. Field T. Maternal depression effects on infants and early interventions. Preventive Medicine, 1998. Vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 200—203.
  10. Gennaro S. Postpartal anxiety and depression in mothers of term and preterm infants. Nursing Research, 1988. Vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 82—85.
  11. Goodman S.H. Depression in mothers. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2007. Vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 107—135. doi:10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.3.022806.091401
  12. Goodman S.H., Gotlib I.H. Risk for psychopathology in the children of depressed mothers: A developmental model for understanding mechanisms of transmission. Psychological Review, 1999. Vol. 106. pp. 458—490.
  13. Goodman S.H., Rouse M.H., Connell A.M., Broth M.R., Hall C.M., Heyward D. Maternal depression and child psychopathology: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2010. Vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 1—27. doi:10.1007/ s10567-010-0080-1
  14. Laurent H.K., Ablow J.C. A face a mother could love: Depression-related maternal neural responses to infant emotion faces. Social Neuroscience, 2013. Vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 228—239. doi:10.1080/17470919.2012.762039
  15. Lovejoy M.C., Graczyk P.A., O’Hare E., Neuman G. Maternal depression and parenting behavior: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 2000. Vol. 20, pp. 561—592. doi:10.1016/S0272-7358(98)00100-7
  16. Pecotic B. The ‘black hole’ in the inner universe. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 2002. Vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 41—52. doi:10.1080/00754170110116736
  17. Rubin K.H., Coplan R.J., Bowker J.C. Social withdrawal in childhood. Annual Review of Psychology, 2009. Vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 141—171. doi:10.1146/annurev. psych.60.110707.163642
  18. Sheeber L., Davis B., Hops H. Gender-specific vulnerability to depression in children of depressed mothers. In S.H. Goodman, I.H. Gotlib (eds.). Children of depressed parents: Mechanisms of risk and implications for treatment. Washington, DC: APA Books, 2002, pp. 253—274. doi:10.1037/10449-010
  19. Smith-Nielsen J., Tharner A., Steele H., Cordes K., Mehlhase H., Vaever M.S. Postpartum depression and infant-mother attachment security at one year: The impact of co-morbid maternal personality disorders. Infant Behavior and Development, 2016. Vol. 44, pp. 148—158. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2016.06.002
  20. Weissman M.M. The depressed woman as a mother. Social psychiatry, 1972. Vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 98—108.
  21. Yan N., Dix T. Mothers’ early depressive symptoms and children’s first-grade adjustment: A transactional analysis of child withdrawal as a mediator. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2014. Vol. 55, no. 5, pp. 495—504. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12189

Information About the Authors

Natalya Y. Fedunina, PhD in Psychology, research fellow of the Centre for emergency psychological assistance, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, psychologis, Sports Center (CCU «Moskomsport»), Moscow, Russia, e-mail:



Total: 2421
Previous month: 14
Current month: 1


Total: 918
Previous month: 3
Current month: 0