Psychodynamic Practice: Individuals, Groups and Organisations
What do fathers teach their sons, how do sons learn? This paper considers the way boys develop, become men, specifically with regard to their relationships with their fathers or indeed any other male authority figures they come into contact with. The material examined is a mix of the author's own biographical experience, a clinical vignette and a film--The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005). In all three, the development of young men is considered with particular emphasis on how 'sons' manage the urge to love the father, to placate him, with a need to hate him, to triumph over him. How between fathers and sons there might be a transition from being competitors and rivals to co-conspirators. In particular, the author makes use of theoretical concepts by Bollas, Klein and Winnicott to highlight how fathers' ability to withstand the challenges of their sons--without resorting to punitive responses--is critical in facilitating the younger men's growth. Specifically, the author suggests that one of the father's central functions is to model a capacity to engage with loss and so prepare his son's ability to tolerate his own losses. (Author abstract)
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