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Cachia, P. (2013). Men and Mothers—The Lifelong Struggle of Sons and Their Mothers, by Hendrika C. Freud, Karnac, 2013. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 3(2):258-260.

(2013). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 3(2):258-260

Men and Mothers—The Lifelong Struggle of Sons and Their Mothers, by Hendrika C. Freud, Karnac, 2013

Review by:
Pierre Cachia, CPsychol

Hendrika C. Freud's book has been written “for and about sons, but for and about the mothers of sons as well” (p. xv). It sets out to explore the complexity of the relational dynamic and the resultant impact this has on the son's psyche through the experience-near lens of psychoanalysis. My only real critique is that the title of the book does not really reflect its content. This is not a book about containing, nurturing, maturation facilitating mothers, and securely attached, content sons. It is about mothering gone wrong, a primary perversion substituted for generosity and love. I do not think that the casual reader who purchases the book seeking to learn about men's relationship with mothers can be blamed for thinking that psychoanalysis is overly drawn towards the dissection of the pathological at the cost of losing an appreciation of the creative and harmonious.

The author's contribution to the growing literature in the field of male psychology is likely to appeal to professionals in the field of psychotherapy and social science. I would add that this book should also prove useful to couple counsellors and psychotherapists because of the experience-near, clinical material, and the insights offered around relational processes in the mother-son dyad are not without consequence on men's capacity for romantic involvement. Indeed, much of the clinical work she presents describes couple dynamics, both interactional and sexual. I would think the text should have special appeal to psychosexual and sex therapists with an interest in dynamic processes.

The book's approach is somewhat unique in manner in that it provides a thought-provoking and frank exploration of the more problematic aspects of male emotional development. Written by an experienced clinician, the book marries the author's penetrating insight into the minutiae of the relational with the focused perspectives offered by the twin lenses of Freud and Marcel Proust's (1871-1922) work.

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