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Rodwell, G. (1991). Samuels, A. (London). ‘On fathering daughters’. Observer, 26 February 89, and ‘Beyond the limits of a father's love’. Independent, 14 November 89.. J. Anal. Psychol., 36(3):397-398.

(1991). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36(3):397-398

Samuels, A. (London). ‘On fathering daughters’. Observer, 26 February 89, and ‘Beyond the limits of a father's love’. Independent, 14 November 89.

Review by:
George Rodwell

These articles set out to explore the distinctive contribution that is made by paternal physical contact to the development and well-being of daughters. Set against the background of the Cleveland child abuse enquiry they acknowledge the importance of remaining alert to the damage done by fathers who overstep normal physical limits. The problem has another side however which may also cause long-term difficulties and is probably more prevalent.

Under consideration here then are those father-daughter relationships where there is damaging lack of bodily rapport and several areas are identified where normal female development is likely to be adversely affected by such a deficiency. For instance, a father who, perhaps because of his own anxieties about boundaries, is over-inhibited in cuddling and handling his small daughter, may well impair her view of her own bodily worth. Similarly during the adolescent years, a father who is scornful of his daughter's emerging sexuality or who ignores it altogether, registers an undermining attack on this vulnerable aspect of her. Without a bodily rapport conveying fatherly valuing, the normal fantasy life of a daughter has to proceed without a vital aid to inner growth and subsequent social development. For example, a father who rejects his daughter bodily is implying that her normal sexual fantasies, including incestuous ones, are prohibited.

The author calls father-daughter communications, ‘erotic playback’ and in one of the papers uses material from an analysis to illustrate how a harmfully arid father-daughter relationship remained within the daughter and manifested itself in an adult woman. Anna, the patient came into analysis aged 42, feeling torn between her various roles in life. She found no satisfaction in her marriage, family, or career, and constantly longed to perform one role well and jettison the others. Having never experienced natural fatherly psychological or physical love, the patient, it is proposed, was unable adequately to differentiate from her mother and develop her full potential, especially her aggressive side.

The author of these papers believes that analysts have given insufficient attention to fathers and that little is known about the impact of fathering in general.

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