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Morra, M. (2002). The Importance of Fathers: A Psychoanalytic Re-Evaluation. Edited by Judith Trowell and Alicia Etchegoyen. London: Routledge. The New Library of Psychoanalysis. 2002. Pp. 256.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 83(6):1477-1480.

(2002). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 83(6):1477-1480

The Importance of Fathers: A Psychoanalytic Re-Evaluation. Edited by Judith Trowell and Alicia Etchegoyen. London: Routledge. The New Library of Psychoanalysis. 2002. Pp. 256.

Review by:
Mauro Morra

It seems to me that today the focus of psychoanalytical investigations in what concerns object relations is turned towards the parental couple, either as a unity or as the presence of two separated individuals.

This book, edited by Judith Trowell and Alicia Etchegoyen, is certainly set up along this line of thought and can be considered a response to the questions put by a number of psychoanalysts influenced by sociology: is father's role still so essential? There are two reasons for asking that question: the first is that many women, either by choice or by necessity, find themselves in the position of being the only parent; the second is that fathers and mothers no longer have such an extreme difference of functions as they had in Freud's times. It could be suggested that in the first case children can make do without a father, and in the second that they cannot differentiate, in the relevant respects, between the two parents.

This book, however, implicitly stresses that the father's importance has not been diminished at all, and all aspects of the existence of the paternal object in the child's fantasy (even where a real father may unfortunately not exist in the family) are examined in detail by the several authors, including by the two editors. It would be hard to do justice to all of these contributors and quote from each individually, so out of preference I will free associate, following the many inspirations I received from this very interesting book.

Psychoanalysis initially dealt mainly with fathers: Freud gave fathers enormous importance, as objects of admiration and rivalry for boys and libidinal attraction for girls. Of course it was the opposite for the mothers—attraction for boys and rivalry for girls—but it seems to me that the maternal image nevertheless tended to be seen as a predominantly sexual object.

Melanie

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