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Weissman, P. (1963). The Effects of Preoedipal Paternal Attitudes on Development and Character. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:121-131.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:121-131

The Effects of Preoedipal Paternal Attitudes on Development and Character

Philip Weissman

This study will be concerned with the preoedipal play between two fathers and sons, which had decisive implications for, and permanent effects upon, the children's subsequent development and character formation. While the two patterns of play were decidedly different, they had in common an intense urge on the fathers' part to bring about by means of the play a given result in their children. These urges were based on unconscious fantasies of the fathers, and are not, as the literature sometimes seems to suggest, mere elements intruding into the 'real' parent-child relationship; they are its ferment (Coleman et al., 1953). While the play was the most organized expression of the fathers' fantasies about and strivings for the sons, the same fundamental attitude would be reflected in every other type of day-to-day contact with the child.

For the sake of simplicity, I have called one case the 'winner' and the other the 'loser'. Actually, both fall short of their respective descriptions in terms of extreme success or failure of neutralization of aggression and libido, ego strength, maturity of superego and object relationships. The names 'winner' and 'loser' pertain to the capacity to bring about the implied result in any given undertaking.

Both the winner and the loser arrived at their final achievements through the use of functions based on preoedipal fixations and regressions of the ego. Especially marked in these cases is the predominant role of the fathers in the early preoedipal period, which overshadowed the customary significant and crucial role of the mothers in the function of early object relationships, and the usual role of both parents in the resolution of aggressive and libidinal drives.

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