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Frankel, A.K. (1985). Father And Child: Developmental And Clinical Perspectives. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 33S(Supplement):224-228.

(1985). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 33S(Supplement):224-228

Father And Child: Developmental And Clinical Perspectives

Review by:
Alice Kross Frankel, M.D.

Edited by Stanley Cath, Alan Gurwitt & John Munder Ross. Boston: Little, Brown, 1982, xxv + 626 pp., $27.50.

Father and Child richly deserves its 1982 award as "Most Outstanding in the Behavioral Sciences" (from Professional Division, American Association of Publishers). Its merits are many, but leading the list is the successful realization of its editors' primary goal, to bring "the forgotten parent" to life. Consider these two statements:

… the data described … support the hypothesis that fathers are capable of skilled and sensitive social interaction with young infants

(p. 114; italics added);

I should like to suggest that fathers may play an indirect and a direct role with young infants

(p. 117; italics added). That such ideas need to be so tentatively stated reflects the predominant state of our literature and thinking until remarkably recent years. Freud created the "oedipal father." Many psychoanalytic thinkers shaped the "preoedipal mother," but the "preoedipal father" has yet to appear in our everyday verbal shorthand. He only lurks in the shadows in Mahler's monumental contributions. Melanie Klein would seem never to have heard of him.

Perhaps it has finally become possible in the last 20 or so years for Father to approach his rightful place, at least in part because our view of Baby has undergone such change. Our field-observational data, at least about childhood and especially about infancy, have in the past too often followed rather than preceded theory building.

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