Fathers, Sons and Daughters

In this lecture I examine the role of the father in our lives. I start with a few core ideas, such as: Fatherhood is a social construct; Society attempts to regulate fatherhood, as it does motherhood and the family; Biology is seen as the defining characteristic of motherhood, but not of fatherhood; and, No other field has influenced our notions of fatherhood to the extent that psychoanalysis has. I then examine the role of the father and the mother in the field of psychoanalysis; see how these ideas impact psychoanalysis’ ideas about child-rearing; discuss the role of the father through historical documents, from the 13th to the 21st century. Important for us today is to discuss how the 21st century father is in flux – he has quite specific societal expectations regarding emotional expressivity. What is the impact of fatherless homes on children? Finally, I discuss the media portrayal of fathers and how this portrayal is often in conflict with the reality of fatherhood.

Presented to the Victoria Jung Society

Date: Friday 3rd November, 2006