The Ideal Child Does not Exist

By Sophie de Mijolla-Mellor

This article examines the question of parents’ anxiety over their children’s perceived abnormality by the yardstick of the fantasy of the ideal child in the unconscious. The ideal child does not exist, it is merely the appearance behind which lurks another extravagant requirement: to live out, with a child of one’s own, the ideal relationship, which one has never had but for which one pines, with a mother who would also be ideal. Based on clinical material from pregnant patients met in analysis, this hypothesis will be developed and put to the test. The question is one of knowing whether there exists in the mother’s unconscious a representation of the embryo or the foetus, such as its image is provided by echographic examinations. Although it opens up incomparable possibilities, on both the medical plane and the plane of affect and the desire to know, echographic examinations also support, in parallel, fears about normality.

  • psychoanalysis
  • echography
  • idealization
  • norms
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