Only a mom knows

"As soon as I was born, I was sent as a nurse to a gendarme, and I remained there until the age of four. From 4 years to 6 years, I was half board and at 6 and a half years I was sent to Vendôme. I stayed there until 14 years, having only seen my mother twice. Can one deduce from this extract of a Letter to Madame Hanskaque the mother of Honore de Balzac was deprived of maternal instinct? Is not maternal love universal? Is it really instinct? Let us begin by defining what maternal instinct coming from




Instinct is a spontaneous, innate and invariable behavior, common to all individuals of the same species and appearing adapted to a purpose of which the subject is not conscious. According to the dictionary, the maternal instinct would be: "A primordial tendency which creates in every normal woman a desire for maternity and which, once satisfied, encourages women to ensure the physical and moral protection of children. Is this definition true? To find out, let us briefly review the history of maternal behavior. The term would be recent: until the XIXth century, the expression seems unknown.


In the Middle Ages, many of the bourgeoisie and the nobility were placed in nursing homes. If there existed a maternal "instinct," it was little or not manifested. It should be noted that infanticide was even tolerated until the 17th century.