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(1989). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 58:339-339.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:339-339

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

March 10, 1987. THE PREOEDIPAL AND OEDIPAL RELATIONSHIP IN GIRLS: THE COLLUSION TO EXCLUDE FATHERS. Eleanor Galenson, M.D.

The birth of a baby may precipitate major upheavals in life-long defenses in parents. Dr. Galenson presented a case in which a mother's ambivalence toward her own mother affected her relationship to her newborn daughter, seriously interfering with her attachment to the infant. During the initial course of conjoint parent and child treatment, the mother's negative feelings about her daughter were revealed in her fear of handling her baby and her fear of having a deformed child. As these negative feelings were explored, the mother-child relationship improved, and the twenty-six-month-old child began to talk for the first time. The mother's own father had been a distant, uninvolved parent whose relationship with his daughter did not develop until her adolescence, when she achieved separation from her mother. The exclusionary pattern in which she and her mother had maintained an excessively close, albeit ambivalent, tie to one another was now repeated in her relationship with her own daughter. The father's normal function of supporting the child's separation from the mother and aiding in neutralization of the child's anger was impeded in this generation, as it had been in the last, until oedipal phase organization began to emerge in the child. As the child's oedipal relationship with her father became more intense, the mother began to recall her adolescent relationship with her own father; this allowed her to invite her husband's participation in the emotional life of his young daughter. The formerly "uninvolved" and "distant" father now became closely attached to the child, with the subsequent flowering of a full oedipal constellation in her. The intense conjoint treatment of mother and child, and father and child, as well as individual treatment of the parents, proves extremely effective in supporting the formation of both the maternal and paternal attachments during the first four years of a child's life.

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