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Tuttman, S. (1986). The Father's Role in the Child's Development of the Capacity to Cope with Separation and Loss. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 14(3):309-322.

(1986). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 14(3):309-322

The Father's Role in the Child's Development of the Capacity to Cope with Separation and Loss

Saul Tuttman, M.D., Ph.D.


Following a brief survey of the history and evolution of parental roles in Western society, early psychoanalytic concepts about the father's role are presented. Freud noted two opposing paternal images in the young boy's mind, namely how love for father and reverence for his power clash with hostility towards the father who is feared as a rival. Freud's personal family history, his self-analysis and the climate of his times led him to formulate the oedipus complex and to propose its role in personality development and pathology. After examining the earlier analytic formulations, more recent related theories are noted. For a period of time, a shift in emphasis from paternal influence to maternal role accompanied the concern with childhood developmental psychology. Following this downplaying of the father's importance, nowadays there is increased appreciation of the influence of both parents and the significance of their relationship with one another upon their children's emotional growth. The final portion of this paper deals with a contemporary view of the specific roles of the father in the child's capacity to mature and separate.


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