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Parker, B. (1965). The Role of a Specific Father-Child Interaction Pattern in the Genesis and Psycho-Analytic Treatment of Obsessional Character Neurosis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:332-341.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:332-341

The Role of a Specific Father-Child Interaction Pattern in the Genesis and Psycho-Analytic Treatment of Obsessional Character Neurosis

Beulah Parker

A particular form of father-son interaction played a dominant part in the psycho-analytic therapy of two adult male patients with obsessional character neurosis. This type of interaction resulted from a parental attitude which will be called 'Masked Authoritarianism', a form of pseudo-democracy which occurs in many forms among middle-class, liberal, educated parents who were themselves reared in an authoritarian family structure, and who give evidence of a conflict between conscious and unconscious value systems. Because of their wish to act democratically, the fathers of these two patients unconsciously masked in various ways the fact that they were manipulating their children's behaviour in an authoritarian way, allowing both themselves and their sons to maintain an illusion that permissiveness prevailed in their educative methods.

When this kind of situation occurs in a family where positive feelings between parent and child are strong, and where in other respects a high degree of honesty and trust characterizes the dealings between them, a special form of interpersonal conflict may develop. This begins at roughly the time of the child's entrance into a phallic-aggressive phase of psycho-sexual development, when parental demands upon him for responsible behaviour and decision-making assume increasing importance. In a specific way the interpersonal conflict reinforces elements of earlier instinctual conflict, strengthens tendencies toward fixation at the anal stage and creates distortions in the child's personality development.

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