refrigerator mother

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English[edit]

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Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

refrigerator mother (plural refrigerator mothers)

  1. (dated, idiomatic, pejorative) An emotionally frigid mother, who does not exhibit normal care or love for her child or children.
    • 1979 April 7, Helen Kohl, "The Strange Ones" Autism can be brought into our world," Montreal Gazette (Canada) (retrieved 18 Nov 2012):
      It was not until 1943 that Dr. Leo Kanner, an American pschiatrist, first diagnosed the syndrome in 11 children. . . . Kanner and others once postulated that these children were the products of "refrigerator mothers," women who are overly cold and intellectual.
    • 2010, John W. Oller Jr and Stephen D. Oller, Autism: The Diagnosis, Treatment, & Etiology of the Undeniable Epidemic, ISBN 9780763752804, p. 49:
      No present-day researcher takes the idea of the refrigerator mother as the cause of autism seriously.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Usually used in the context of the now discredited belief that the attitude and behavior of such mothers causes autism or schizophrenia in offspring.

References[edit]