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Ross, J.M. (1979). Fathering: A Review of Some Psychoanalytic Contributions on Paternity. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 60:317-327.

(1979). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 60:317-327

Fathering: A Review of Some Psychoanalytic Contributions on Paternity

John Munder Ross

SUMMARY

The paper has traced psychoanalysis' gradual appreciation of a father's facilitative impact on his children's psychosexual and psychosocial growth. Freud's initial notions accentuated the inhibiting, punitive aspects of the paternal representation, highlighting, as they did, the oedipal father of the primal horde. Save for a few significant glimmers here and there, he pretty much failed to consider a son's or daughter's search for a father with whom to identify and, with this, underplayed some of the crucial preconditions for the oedipal complex itself. In recent years, an ego-psychological focus on the 'dual unity' of mother and child, in Mahler's words, has tended to relegate the father to a secondary role in pre-oedipal development. And yet, influenced by this overview, Loewald, Greenacre, Abelin and others have underlined the ways in which a father helps extricate a child from the maternal orbit, facilitating a sense of reality, self-constancy, sexual identity and other epigenetic achievements which help secure object constancy and self-identity. What remains is a fuller elucidation of the reciprocal and complex affective interchanges that take place within the father-child dyad throughout childhood.

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