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Abrams, D.M. (1994). Charles Ives, “My Father's Song”: A Psychoanalytic Biography by Stuart Feder New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992, xvi + 396 pp., $35.00. Psa. Books, 5(1):86-92.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Books, 5(1):86-92

Charles Ives, “My Father's Song”: A Psychoanalytic Biography by Stuart Feder New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992, xvi + 396 pp., $35.00

Review by:
David M. Abrams, Ph.D.

In the pantheon of psychoanalytic case studies, the mother typically prefigures as the primary progenitor of pathology. Mahler's preoedipal studies and the borderline and narcissistic disorder studies of recent decades further emphasize the centrality of the mother-child dyad but largely ignore the role of the father.

In this environment, the recent publication of Feder's Charles Ives, “My Father's Song” is a breath of fresh air. The first psychoanalytic study of a major composer, it is also an important examination of the role of the father in the development of a creative individual. One of America's greatest composers, Charles Ives (1874-1954) presents a fascinating enigma. After graduating from Yale University, he worked for the next 20 years by day as an insurance executive, doing his composing in the evening and on weekends. His composing remained a solitary, private activity. Rarely were any of his works performed in public. In his business, he amassed a substantial fortune and pioneered the concept of estate planning.

Then, as he neared the age of 49, the same age when his father had died, he stopped composing and a few years later also retired from business, no longer able to do either form of work. He lived another 30 years.

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