Considering women living with multiple sclerosis (MS), motherhood may represent a complicated event. Our aim in this study is to explore the personal meanings related to maternity and illness in women living with this disease. We have involved twenty women suffering from MS and we have administered an open interview introduced by a trigger question as a prompt aimed to elicit a narrative of their experience of illness, wishes, doubts, fears and life-projects with regard to motherhood. The interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim in order to carry out an analysis of the textual corpus. We have performed the textual analysis of the transcribed interviews through the T-LAB software. Performing a cluster analysis, four thematic clusters emerged: Daily Pain, Relationship with Health Care Services, Closing of a Circle and Family Role. We have interpreted the relationship between these themes using factorial mapping through 3 meaning vectors, representative of the following dynamics: From Concrete to Abstract; From Life-Project to Relapse; From Health Agencies to Family Support. All these meaning-vectors seem to describe the relationship between maternity and illness. Some aspects, as the presence of a stable partner or knowing diagnosis for more than ten years, might represent supporting factors for a project of motherhood. Starting from the results obtained, we provide some proposals for the definition of goals and strategies of psychological counselling within the Health Care Services.


Multiple Sclerosis, Maternity, Narratives

Author Bio(s)

Maria Carlino is Psychologist, Psychotherapist and PhD. Now she works as a Military Psychologist. After graduation in Dynamic, Clinic and Community Psychology and her PhD in Gender Studies at Department of Humanistic Studies (University of Naples Federico II), she specializes in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. She deals with the interconnections between gender issues and psychological aspects of physical illness from a dynamic psychological perspective. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: mariacarlino@alice.it.

Roberta Lanzillo is researcher in Neurology at the Multiple Sclerosis Centre of Federico II University. Her main interest is clinical and therapeutic research, in particular, pediatric MS and sexual dysfunctions in people with MS. She has developed, in cooperation with the division of Clinical Psychology, educational instruments to facilitate communication with young people with MS and sexuality and pregnancy issues for adults. She is member of the Italian Neurological Society (SIN) and of MS, Digital, and Gender Medicine SIN study groups. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: robertalanzillo@libero.it.

Alessandro Chiodi is Clinical Psychologist, Psychodynamic Psychotherapist, Coordinator of Psychology Group for MS, University Hospital of Naples Federico II, Head-Neck Integrated Activity Department, Complex Operative Unit of Psychiatry and Psychology. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: alessandro.chiodi@unina.it.

Roberto Vitelli is Assistant Professor in Clinical Psychology at the Federico II University of Naples. He is co-founder of the Gender Dysphoria Psychological Service, run since 1997 by the Federico II University Hospital. In his current work he is investigating Gender Variance by integrating philosophical and psychological resources. He is a member and co-founder of the School for Psychotherapy and Phenomenological Clinical Work – Florence (Italy). Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: rvitelli@unina.it.

Luigi Lavorgna is a Neurologist of University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli.” He founded, in 2012, the first social network entirely dedicated to Multiple Sclerosis. He works on social determinants of neurological diseases and is an author of scientific articles on multiple sclerosis and social media/digital technologies. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: Luigi.Lavorgna@policliniconapoli.it.

Vincenzo Brescia Morra is assistant professor in Neurology and Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Centre of Federico II University. His main interest is clinical and therapeutic research in MS and development of health care guidelines and cost effectiveness studies in MS. He is a member of the Italian Neurological Society (SIN) and of MS study group.

Giorgia Margherita is Researcher in Psychodynamic Psychology, she teaches Dynamic Psychology at University of Naples Federico II and is Member of the College of the PhD in Mind Gender and Language. She is also Psychologist and Psychotherapist, so as Group Psychoanalyst Member of (I.I.P.G.) Italian Institute of Psychoanalysis Group. She is also member of (E.F.P.P.) European Federation for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in the Public Sector. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: margheri@unina.it.

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