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Grossman, O. (2010). Comment on Herzog's ‘Library of the Mind”. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 18(1):95-105.

(2010). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 18(1):95-105

Comment on Herzog's ‘Library of the Mind” Related Papers

Oscar Grossman

The topic of fatherhood has held my interest since the start of my analytic training, and Dr. Herzog's work has been of enormous help to me, both personally and clinically. His work, along with that of others, has shown us the primordial importance of the father and allowed us to shift from our perception of him as a peripheral figure only, a perception that predominated as recently as thirty years ago. As with the study of music, this research has allowed us to train our ears and pick up themes that had long been missed.

I started my training 30 years ago. At that time, the recurrent theme was that “healthy” fathering was a peripheral role to the all-important mother-infant couple. Many—and I'll be using Winnicott as an example today—claimed that his true place should be at the gates, protecting, guarding, and supporting that couple until the child was ready to wander away. Only at the point of relative independence would the father become sometimes a guide, but mostly a challenger in the Oedipal sense, saying to his child, “You can't hang on here forever. You can't keep what I have loaned you. You have to leave and make it on your own” (Winnicott, 1986).

In Fatherneed Kyle Pruett (2000) shared a vignette illustrating the lack of resources as late as the early eighties on the topic of fatherhood. When a female student of his approached him, concerned about the effects on her child, should her husband stay at home to take care of the baby after three months, there was nothing in Yale's 12 million-volume library that even came close to helping him answer her questions.


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