Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Sasha Rudenstine

Second Advisor

Steve Tuber

Third Advisor

Diana Puñales-Morejon


attachment, object relations, maternal fantasy, maternal representations, Rorschach



The Makings of Creativity and Empathy: Maps of Maternal Representations


Anielle M. Fredman

Advisor: Sasha Rudenstine, Ph.D.

The present study investigates the relationship between maternal fantasy of the child and their relationship, and children’s unconscious processes. In addition, the study aims to ascertain the link between maternal representations and aspects of the child’s intrapsychic world, including ego functioning, object relations, and processes of separation-individuation.

Maternal fantasy was measured in an original way with a tripartite typology of Positive, Mixed-Complex, and Contradictory Representations, applied to the Parent Development Interview-Revised Short (Slade et al., 2004), adapted from the Working Model of the Child Interview (WMCI) (Zeanah et al., 1993). Ego functioning and object relations were captured via children’s Rorschach (RIM) (Rorschach, 1921) transcripts and assessed utilizing Klopfer et al. (1954) scoring, Urist’s (1977) Mutuality of Autonomy scale (MOA), and Coonerty’s Separation-Individuation scale (1986).

Results are based on a sample of youth (N = 35, 54% male, 46% female, 26% White, 34% Black, 9% Latinx, 31% multiracial, 68% below median income) ages 5–15, receiving mental health services at a community-based clinic in an under resourced urban population. Outcomes from the present study support the hypothesis that a significant relationship exists between maternal representations and children’s intrapsychic health and functioning. Outcomes revealed significant between-group differences in children’s use of healthy movement scores and object relational health in the mixed-complex maternal representation group, as compared with the positive and contradictory maternal representation group.

Broadly, these results suggest differences in youth’s unconscious processes as it relates to maternal representations of the relationship. Furthermore, this study offers an integration of psychoanalytic and attachment-based theory with test data and demonstrates the applicability of maternal representation and youth personality assessment to treatment conceptualization.

Keywords: attachment, object relations, maternal fantasy, Rorschach



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