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Widzer, M.E. (1993). Fathers and their Families: Edited by Stanley H. Cath, Alan Gurwitt, and Linda Gunsberg. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1989, xxiii + 583 pp., $49.50.. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 41:288-291.

(1993). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 41:288-291

Fathers and their Families: Edited by Stanley H. Cath, Alan Gurwitt, and Linda Gunsberg. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1989, xxiii + 583 pp., $49.50.

Review by:
Martin E. Widzer, M.D.

The father of antiquity—hunter, protector, scourge of his enemies—has been "maternalized." The publication of Father and Child: Clinical and Developmental Perspectives in 1982 focused attention on the "neglected preoedipal father" and had an electrifying effect on the extended psychoanalytic community. This seminal collection featured papers by leading childhood researchers and theorists and presented new and exciting material along with extensions of previous work and historical reviews. Lightning, however, seldom strikes twice. In 1989 Father and Their Families appeared. As is often the case with sequels, the present volume fails to live up to the lofty standards set by the first. Although there are elements of note in many of the articles, the quality is uneven and papers that do not agree with the editors' points of view are minimized or misstated, while others are overemphasized. For example, much is made of K. D. Pruett's exemplary study of men who serve as primary caregivers, while ignoring his caveat: "My secret hope—to delineate a description of the nurturing character or predisposition in men … has fallen short. With the exception of early-choosing fathers, no generalizations are yet possible" (p. 404).

Following the format of its predecessor, Fathers and Their Families is organized into seven sections, comprised of an introduction, epilogue, and 28 chapters with 31 authors. The editors introduce the papers within each section and occasionally compare authors, but it is left for the individual writers to refer to each other's work, an overview that could have been better provided by the editors. Because of constraints of space and personal preference, only selections from each section will be reviewed.

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