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Angelergues, J. (2016). Éloge des pères [In Praise of Fathers] by Simone Korff-Sausse Hachette, Paris, 2009; 157 pp; €13.50. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(4):1174-1178.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(4):1174-1178

Éloge des pères [In Praise of Fathers] by Simone Korff-Sausse Hachette, Paris, 2009; 157 pp; €13.50

Review by:
J. Angelergues

This elegantly written book by Simone Korff-Sausse sets out to challenge the claim that one very often comes across in the media that ‘there are no fathers any more …’. The book rejects that claim as alarmist, highly ideological and devoid of any scientific basis. Society as we know it today is accused of restricting the role of fathers and of more or less creating a ‘fatherless society’ in which all values will be destroyed and violence will reign supreme. The author refutes that indictment.

Fathers may, however, have become the object of a negative hallucination. They have not disappeared but they have changed, and it is on that point that the originality of this book makes itself felt. Korff-Sausse quotes Diderot: “There is no form of government, the prerogative of which is to be immutable”, and extends that statement to the family situation. In her view, the old model of the paterfamilias has had its day - modern fathers have invented new ways of being fathers, of being more ‘present’ and closer to their children, from birth onwards.

Korff-Sausse reminds us that the fact that fathers are very present in the life of their family and of their children is something we see every day, particularly in our clinical work. This is perhaps not such a recent occurrence as one may think, even though the post-1968 period did see an increase in this phenomenon. All in all, it is probably more a matter of a change in the image that we have of fathers in contemporary society than a modification of their place in reality: can the image of a father, shaped more by ideology than by the reality of his presence nowadays in the life of his family, evolve towards a representation drawn from the reality of emotional life in the family? It goes without saying that Korff-Sausse is solidly in favour of such an evolution, which she considers to be almost a little revolution …

Korff-Sausse suggests that we practitioners should begin by putting our own house in order.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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