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Diamond, M.J. (2017). The Missing Father Function in Psychoanalytic Theory and Technique: The Analyst's Internal Couple and Maturing Intimacy. Psychoanal Q., 86(4):861-887.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 86(4):861-887

The Missing Father Function in Psychoanalytic Theory and Technique: The Analyst's Internal Couple and Maturing Intimacy

Michael J. Diamond

This paper argues that recovering the “missing” paternal function in analytic space is essential for the patient's achievement of mature object relations. Emerging from the helpless infant's contact with primary caregivers, mature intimacy rests on establishing healthy triadic functioning based on an infant-with-mother-and-father. Despite a maternocentric bias in contemporary clinical theory, the emergence of triangularity and the inclusion of the paternal third as a separating element is vital in the analytic dyad. Effective technique requires the analyst's balanced interplay between the paternal, investigative and the maternal, maximally receptive modes of functioning—the good enough analytic couple within the analyst—to serve as the separating element that procreatively fertilizes the capacity for intimacy with a differentiated other. A clinical example illustrates how treatment is limited when the paternal function is minimized within more collusive, unconsciously symbiotic dyads.

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