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Although a great deal has been written about the development of children, the mother-child relationship, and the differing psychologies of women and men, the study of fathers, fathering, and fatherhood has, until very recently, been virtually ignored. Fathers and Their Families redresses this situation with original contributions covering fathering and fatherhood in their interacting psychological, familial, and social dimensions. In 28 chapters and extensive editorial commentary, the editors and their contributors explore the changing roles of fathers - changes prompted partly by societal shifts and partly by changes in the family and in "traditional" parental roles.
The broad questions that guide the editors and contributors could not be more timely. Among the topical studies contained in this collection are illuminating examinations of fathers as single parents, readiness for grandfatherhood, transition to fatherhood, father-daughter relationships, and father-son relationships. Chapters involving ruptured families, divorce and fathers, and the treatment challenges of working with fathers, will be of special interest to clinicians of various backgrounds and orientations.
Throughout this volume, the emphasis is less on intrapsychic and dyadic relationships than on the total family system and the intrafamilial, intergenerational, and societal forces that shape paternal behavior. In this ranging , systematic approach, Fathers and Their Families speaks to the concerns of clinical social workers and family therapists. But it will also be enormously helpful to psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, and clinical psychologists, for whom it can be depended upon to broaden the vision, and thereby enlarge the context, that informs individual psychotherapy. For developmental psychologists, students of the family, and clinicians alike, it promises to be a revelation, a lifting of the blinders that for centuries have sustained that most sacrosanct of icons, the father.
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Stanley H. Cath, M.D., is Medical Director of the Family Advisory SErvice and Treatment Center, Belmont, Massachusetts. A faculty member of the Boston University School of Medicine and the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, he was formerly Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine.
Alan Gurwitt, M.D., is Lecturer, Cambridge Hospital, Harvard University and Associate Clinical Professor, Yale Child Study Center. He is a faculty member of the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Hartford Child Psychiatry Training Consortium.
Linda Gunsberg, Ph.D., is a graduate of the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. A member of the Editorial Board of the journal Psychoanalytic Inquiry, she is in private practice in New York City.Review:
"Fathers and Their Families is an essential companion volume to Father and Child. It brings into operational perspective the rich complexity of influences and interaction necessary for understanding the variety of roles fathers play in the dynamics of today's family. There is always an ongoing tension and unavoidable confrontation between traditional models and new roles as the clinician searches for an understanding of the individual. The perspective on fathers given in this volume, arising as it does from a consideration of development as a life-span process of ongoing interactions within the context of a specific and unique interactive system, brings an appreciation of that variation, in both individuals and group systems, that defines individual uniqueness. The contributors bring a brilliant new depth and richness to our conceptualization of the father in the family - one that the reader cannot escape and the clinician cannot be without."
- Louis Sander, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, University of Colorado
"This scholarly book extends the research of this pioneering group into an area whose importance has become increasingly clear at psychoanalytic research seminars over the past decade: the role of fathers in psychological structure formation. It contains rich clinical and research material showing how developmental failures may result from either the loss of the father or the excessive devaluation of him. It addresses timely, essential questions: How can the oedipal phase be resolved in fatherless families? In the absence of a father, how can the young girl or boy experience the gleam in the father's eye that is so necessary to the formation of core identity? Such theoretical reflections grow out of a recent emphasis on the father's unique contributions to the psychological development of his offspring. And such reflections, in turn, are crucial to our expanding knowledge of psychological development across the life cycle. Finally, the reevaluation of the father's role within the family may promote greater success in therapy. On all these counts, we are indebted to Cath, Gurwitt, Gunsberg, and the contributors to Fathers and Their Families for their cogent contribution to a new area of scientific inquiry."
- Theodore B. Cohen, M.D., Chairman, Vulnerable Child Discussion Group, American Psychoanalytic Association
"[T]his large and comprehensive book is a clear exposition of the current understanding of the father's dynamic influence on the child, both in direct relation to the child and in relation to the family system. . . . It is a must for all mental health professionals who work with men."
- Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
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