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Gurwitt, A. (1988). On Becoming a Family Man. Psychoanal. Inq., 8(2):261-279.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 8(2):261-279

On Becoming a Family Man

Alan Gurwitt, M.D.

This paper focuses on some of the recently gained understanding of psychological events within expectant fathers and the implications for their wives and children-to-be. After an introduction that addresses the significant changes in attitude toward fathers and expectant fathers, I review some of our new understandings of the roles of fathers and the literature on pathological reactions in men to pregnancy; I then take a look at the evolution of paternal identity and review present understanding of the psychological currents in expectant fathers and the family reverberations.


Overt interest in pregnancy has essentially been the domain of women. This is so partly for obvious biological reasons, but clearly social custom and psychological factors have also played a part. Tucker (1974) tells us that it was not until the middle of the 16th century that men made their way into the delivery room. Until then there were severe penalities for any male who attempted to view a birth. Perhaps the most celebrated example is that of Dr. Wertt of Hamburg.

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