Fathers, Families, and the outside World

Fathers, Families, and the outside World

Fathers, Families, and the outside World

Fathers, Families, and the outside World

Synopsis

This is the second monograph to be published under the auspices of Winnicott Studies, the Squiggle Foundation's renowned series of publications on contemporary applications of Winnicott's thought. Like its predecessor, which concentrated on the True and False Self, this volume focuses on a single topic: Winnicott's treatment of fathers.The volume includes a reprint of Winnicott's 1965 paper, A child psychiatry case illustrating delayed reaction to loss, which is followed by John Forrester's On holding as a metaphor, which expands and comments on many of the issues which Winnicott raises. John Fielding then provides an insight into Shakespeare's treatment of father-figures; Graham Lee outlines a new approach to the Oedipus complex in the light of Winnicott's insights; and Val Richards concludes with some clinical and theoretical thoughts. Taken together, these papers provide an intriguing composite picture of Winnicottian thought today, on a topic which is of increasing social and cultural interest.

Excerpt

[The child] is also looking for his father, one might say, who will protect mother when she is found. The strict father that the child evokes may also be loving, but he must first be strict and strong. Only when the strict and strong father figure is in evidence can the child regain his primitive love impulses, his sense of guilt, and his wish to mend. [Winnicott, 1946, p. 116]

Here, at first sight, is Winnicott's portrayal of the father as strong and masterful, with the primary task of protecting the mother by coming between her and her tempestuous child. In providing a strong framework for the child's containment, this father continues and extends the primary maternal holding by restoring the "bad-enough child" to itself. But alongside this strong, stern evocation, there seems to lurk a more passive and backward-looking paternal figure, who shirks the task of propelling his offspring into the domain of difference and of language. For, as is brought out in both Fielding's and Forrester's chapters in this monograph, it is as if all the dynamism . . .

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