Father and Child: Developmental and Clinical Perspectives by Stanley H. Cath

By Stanley H. Cath

First released in 1982. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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In so doing, the child also begins to differentiate reality from fantasy-retaining the illusion of his mother's presence while realizing, in his compensatory or crudely defensive activity, his separateness and difference from her. Margaret Mahler, with her concepts of symbiosis and separationindividuation (Mahler and Furer, 1968; Mahler, Pine, and Bergman, 1975) implicitly integrated these findings with Jacobson's conceptions of selfand object representations (1964) and Erikson's formulations of the early stages of ego-identity formation (1950, 1959, 1964).

Nevertheless, in the opening pages of Childhood and Society (1950), he did relate the case of Peter, a boy bloated with retained feces because of an unconscious pregnancy fantasy. Erikson pointed to the importance of identification as a means of retaining or recovering a lost caretaker. The child in question, he wrote, "identified with both partners of a lost relationship. He is like the nurse (a now-absent mother surrogate) who is now with child, and he is the baby whom she likes to tend. Identifications which result from losses are like that" (p.

A boy's dilemma is this: To avoid being castrated he may attempt to become womanly and symbolically part with his penis. In so doing, however, he is confronted again with his archaic aspirations to motherhood, having never completely conceded his wish to have children. Consequently, he may be led to identify with the mother's powerful and later 16 The Roots ofFatherhood phallic person as well as with her passive relation to the oedipal father. At all levels he risks a deepened sense of narcissistic injury.

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