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International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 73:757-771

Psychic Changes in the Paternal Image
David Rosenfeld

Cordelia: I have loved you as my father, nor more, nor less. King Lear: Here I disclaim all my paternal care. Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 1 We read in Freud: Of all the imagos of a childhood which, as a rule, is no longer remembered, none is more important for a youth or a man than that of his father. Organic necessity introduces into a man's relation to his father an emotional ambivalence which we have found most strikingly expressed in the Greek myth of King Oedipus. A little boy is bound to love and admire his father, who seems to him the most powerful, the kindest and the wisest creature in the world. God himself is after all only an exaltation of this picture of a father as he is represented in the mind of early childhood. But soon the other side of this emotional relationship emerges. One's father is recognized as the paramount disturber of one's instinctual life; he becomes a model not only to imitate but also to get rid of, in order to take his place. Thenceforward affectionate and hostile impulses towards him persist side by side, often to the end of one's life, without either of them being able to do away with the other. It is in this existence of contrary feelings side by side that lies the essential character of what we call emotional ambivalence. In the second half of childhood a change sets in in the boy's relation to his father—a change whose importance cannot be exaggerated. From his nursery the boy begins to cast his eyes upon the world outside. And he cannot fail now to make discoveries which undermine his original high opinion of his fatherand which expedite his detachment from his first ideal. He finds that his father is no longer the mightiest, wisest and richest of beings (Freud, 1914a, pp. 243–4). What is the role of the father, if not a continuing quest and discovery that the patient pursues within himself for months and years on end? The historian Braudel (1985) tells us: 'History is nothing but a constant interrogation of past times, on behalf of the problems and curiosities —and even the worries and anxieties—of the present, which surrounds and besieges us'. In this paper we examine the role of the father in a psychotic disorder. We present a clinical case which in our opinion is both representative and illustrative of this issue. Our material concerns a patient with psychotic episodes linked to the role of the father, both his real father and his internal fantasy of him. We have deliberately chosen a case where there is no early total absence of the father, nor sexual disorders leading to perversions. Of course, the early relationship with the mother is also taken into account. The role of the father is present each time there is a father with a given role, a mother permitting such a role, and a son capable of introjective identification: it requires a triangular conflict. I emphasize this concept, indispensable to understanding the numerous cases of perversions, transvestism, homosexuality and various bizarre identifications and projections, in which other types of adaptations to the father role and to reality take place. This patient, whom I shall call Cordelio, was 23 years old. His father had committed suicide by shooting. For the patient, this suicide was the equivalent of King Lear saying: 'Here I disclaim all my paternal care'. In this case study, we give a dialectic explanation of the modification in the internal father image.

The patient was brought to the consultation by his family. He exhibited a confusional state and some psychotic disorders.

(MS. received July 1991) Copyright © Institute of Psycho-Analysis, London 1992
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but each time the son had serious problems or went through anxiety crises. which had gone apparently unnoticed by the son and the family. but lacking autonomy. (We will come back to this episode further on. I had the impression that his parents formed a homeostatic system. but with all his friends as well. as well as the real events. a woman accused him of attacking and molesting her. more scared than her son. As the treatment progressed. Just a few days after this reassuring diagnosis.thinking she could blackmail his rich family. This quite unfair accusation had a very painful impact on the life of both the patient and the whole family. it was possible to discover a new fact or a new experience each time. his professional affairs and his political activities. We must point out that the woman in question used to have frequent sexual intercourse. repeatedly adopted by the mother. with a great deal of patience and subtlety. some of these episodes had taken place after the death of the father's mother. the father went to his country house. It is very important to understand this behaviour pattern. The mother was described during the treatment as a good woman. While the legal formalities proceeded. Further tests performed on his sister revealed that what had been taken for a brain tumour was simply a harmless congenital anomaly.758 - kept rehashing this traumatic episode. who was suffering from a disorder which had been diagnosed as a brain tumour. During the whole course of the treatment. 1919). a closed circuit. His language is reiterative and he communicates in an obsessive style (Freud. 1989). . not very energetic. was arrested by the police. It is interesting to note that during the weeks preceding his suicide.) The father used to comment frequently on the unfortunate destiny of his family. masked by his constant political and business activities. We also rediscovered another depressive episode that the father went through when the patient. like all the others. He was in a state of obfuscation and mental confusion. Even though this event was told over and over again throughout the treatment. during which he kept saying: 'people stare at me. where the family used to spend the summers and weekends and. during this period. This episode took place after the accidental death of two of the father's brothers. they accuse me. including some frankly psychotic episodes. we were able to collect. who was barely 16 at the time. Later on. one of them died in a sports-plane crash. rediscover and resignify a number of episodes of melancholia ordepression that the father had gone through. apparently utterly dependent upon the father. not only with our patient. The patient started coming to the sessions in September. This accusation was used by his father's political rivals to discredit and ruin him. people blame me for things'. the patient and other members of his family described the father as an individual with a strong personality. and the other one was drowned in the sea. He related a dramatic episode. The woman insisted on her accusations. to which the son had no access. and went into a deep depression. The patient always spoke of his mother as being devoted to her children. the father had spent a great deal of time alternately consulting with doctors and locked up in his office examining the radiological and neurological studies performed on his daughter (our patient's younger sister). He . and then resorting to sleeping pills. always ready to help others. the patient commented that his father had suspected it might have been a case of suicide. the patient had to remain in prison for two weeks. she seemed to react like a frightened little girl. we rediscovered with the patient another of his father's melancholic episodes which. which had a great impact on his life: when he was barely 18. repeating that his family had to spend every weekend visiting him in jail. This woman reported him to the police. The patient related that during his puberty. It was only when the father died that she revealed herself as quite capable of managing the family's affairs. Also. which shed light on the subjective experience of the patient. the patient had clear evidence of something he had suspected for a long time: his father was using amphetamines in order to study and work. who has devoted an inordinate amount of time to his business. (Laufer & Laufer. because of certain tragic deaths. he was unable to speak to his father about sexual matters or discuss his personal problems with him. declaring that she had been raped. had gone unnoticed. In this last case. after swallowing a large number of sleeping pills. The fatherstopped working.During our first interview. finally shot himself through the heart.

who accused him inside his mind (self). As is sometimes the case. at fixed and regular hours. we were able to analyse his intense fear of growing up. and the fragmentation into multiple roles of his internal father. I wish to emphasize that if the analyst does not disentangle himself from this projected material. During the first month of treatment. the role of the father seemed to have had more importance than the facts themselves. his father reacted by slapping him and shouting: 'you see what you've done to me!' During this difficult and traumatic situation. I interpreted and managed the unconscious fantasies projected and acted out on the therapist. and not only someone who became psychotic and committed suicide. through his interpretations. It requires a meticulous effort: the therapist must detect the material. it is an accusation of his superego projected outwards. As the treatment proceeded. he began to talk about his obsessive rituals: cleanliness rituals. when his father exhibited a similar attitude. to kill me as an analyst. From the very beginning of the treatment. he re-examined various other instances during his childhood and his adolescence. who was also a good and healthy person. This is my standard method in the treatment of psychotic patients: one person keeps the patient company for as long as he may need it. which would enable him to preserve part of his father. the patient had an internal image of his father as full of kindness. and the same person cooperates with the clinic's staff and with . The son experienced this episode as the absence of his father. He continued to receive the same medication and often had two sessions a day. in particular when he was drunk in the sessions. he must help the patient to become aware of the fact that the therapist is not a dead object. . He explained these rituals as being caused by his fear of making his sisters pregnant with some of his sperm. as usual with serious traumatic episodes. Gradually. finally. It was also very important with this patient to discover and to point out material that reflected intense hate and parricidal fantasies. For instance. when he repeated: 'people accuse me'. which he kept cleaning for hours on end. just when his son needed him most.One anecdote was particularly important: when the police came to arrest him. As I have already noted. In other words. But at the same time. which he acts out and repeats in the transference (instead of thinking) just as Freud taught us. with analytical technique. He feared that all these things might cause somebody's death. we must underline his delirious episodes. My team was in charge of his medication and one of the psychologists on the team spent two or three hours a day with the patient. this was how.759 - The technical work on projective identification generated by the patient who thus inoculates his dead father meets with many countertransferential and technical difficulties. myinterpretation tried to show the projective identification outwards. Theoretically. of finishing his studies. might kill his oedipal rival. which at times took the form ofunconscious fantasies. who could not or would not defend him in such a serious crisis. the rest of the interpretations might go unheard or misunderstood. and at others of parricidal acting out. cause especially serious depressions. I interpreted his confusional states as caused by his incapacity to achieve a dissociation or a useful splitting. especially related to the bathroom and toilet. playing a protecting and guiding role. During other sessions. I often interpreted that when he came late and quite drunk to our sessions. where I show the importance of analytical technique and the use of countertransference. I decided to hospitalize him in a private clinic. During the same period. and 'kill' the session. manage it in the countertransference and. the towels or the toilet. It was only two months later. of being successful or of leading a normal adult sexual life. Therefore. During this stage of the treatment the patient was hospitalized in a private clinic. who often in the past had suddenly disappeared. This was my interpretation of parricide within his transference. the son was forced to reassess and re-examine all his father's past behaviour towards himself. we analysed the way he used alcohol to become confused and dilute his persecution feelings and his intolerable pain. who were caring for him at his home. the patient contributed new material concerning the mental state of his father before his suicide. in order for the therapist to avoid playing the role that the patient instills and projects on to him. And. He rediscovered and reconstructed the role of his father. To summarize the sessions of the first two months. During these months. I refer the reader to another part of this paper. he did it to evade analytical work. when caused by somebody we trust. the patient's habit of alcohol abuse made his surveillance very difficult for his sister and one of my assistants. that it became possible to reconstruct these rituals somewhat more clearly: they went back to the time the patient was aged 10 or 12. which might remain on the floor. the father abandoned the child. sudden disillusions.

The patient answered with gestures and very few words. I want to mention that this material concerning memories of erotic games in the bathroom is related to the system of obsessive order and cleanliness mentioned in another part of this article. and perhaps it was easier for him to say that these things happened outside himself. by identifying with the sexual identity of his sisters and his mother. perhaps he feared being too mannered. he talked about his sisters almost as if he also were one more sister. On that particular day. very affected in his gestures and attitudes. or homosexual. He added that the man wore so much perfume he was like a 'perfumed woman'. While this patient was hospitalized I visited him at the clinic. and how they influence the transference and. The patient seemed to try to find his mother by adopting some of her aspects. and I said that perhaps he related to me just as he had related to his father when he was a boy. 1968). not very manly. who worked for the clinic and was not a member of my team. In short. of course. and not as a homosexual. which is close to the clinic. and said: 'Oh. At the theoretical level. working and travelling. and on his father always being busy. related to his oedipal and pre-oedipal relations with hismother. a family made up of just women …' and immediately went on to evoke erotic fantasies and memories of sexual games with his sisters. One anecdote is very important to explain the emergence of an intense regressive or primitive transference which took place during a session. the patient talked about his stay at the clinic. the uncles died and there was only a b ig family of women left …' This made me think that the homosexual transference was quite clear. and he was escorted by an assistant he had never met before. I interpreted the projective identification which he made with his sisters. and I quote: 'There were only women in my family. and at other times the psychologist on my team escorted him to my private office.760 - involving necking and erotic games with his sisters took place behind the bathroom door. I might sum up this session by saying that the patient tried to come close to the therapist just as in his childhood he tried to come close to hisfather. just as he does today in his transference to me. the patient was able to come to my office. with three sisters … and besides. It is also important to reflect on the theoretical importance of his incestuous and oedipal fantasies involving his mother. the defence consisted in fleeing into eroticization with his sisters. clear indications cropped up in the material about his homosexual fantasies and fears. Perhaps he thought he had to feign being a woman as the only way of being loved by his father. mingled with the women in the family. In later material. . The patient seemed to accept this interpretation with less difficulty. During the session. The change in the interpretation consisted in interpreting that the patient related to me mixed up with the sexual identity of his sisters. which were of course related to thetransference. but then started to say that the assistant who escorted him was a homosexual. He told me about his sisters when they were small. and to need me as a therapist. When the patient came upstairs to my office. through his sisters. of the medication he was receiving. This difference is technically very important. and I began interpreting very carefully: I told him that perhaps there was a part of himself that was afraid to ask for my help. the guilt all this generates in the patient. as I will detail below. and he immediately went on talking about his sisters. and that the patient was repeating his search for a father in the transference. It was as if his sexual identity was merged with that of his sisters and the other women in the family. showing that he felt the impact but doubted the interpretation. At that point I corrected my interpretation. An hypothesis was gradually confirmed during the years the treatment lasted. The session seemed to develop along these lines: the patient defended himself from a homosexual eroticization with the therapist. just as my two uncles had …' And he repeated: 'the men die. The material seemed quite clear to me. we may suppose he entertained a masculine-feminine relationship with the therapist. After these comments about the attendant.myself. men always died in the rest of the family. During the last years of his treatment we began to work on these oedipal and pre-oedipal aspects. He usually is a source of important clinical information. I am referring to the fact that the patient thought his father had fallen ill because of his guilt concerning his incestuous games (Schafer. He said. commented on his being the only boy in the family. which played a very important role in his identification with her. It is important to note that one of the episodes . the assistant remained waiting at the street door.

he decides to come to a session with me. there is first someone suffering from a heart disease. his psychoanalyst becomes a savoury dish. the person on the right hand side falls down. This dream shows all its value if one remembers that one week earlier. in hisdream he knew it was a Sunday. besides the guilt related to his father's suicide. then. this was the first time he saw his father alive in a dream. although he believed he could only find him by dying or burying himself with him. so significant that perhaps they made the following dream possible. Later. he went in search of his father. this dream helped me to understand my patient's numerous cleanliness rituals: he separates things that are on the right hand side from those on the left hand side. in this dream there is a dead father. or dies. What is important in the dream is that someone dies. As to his visit to the cemetery during the dream. like Father did'. He seems to want to follow his father. where he first thinks he wants to die. He said the dream took place near to an anniversary which reminded him of hisfather's death: as background information. I associate this fact with his inability to use his University degree. he is a young. just like his father.761 - clarity a feeling of guilt linked to the patient's incestuous fantasies and masturbation involving his sisters and one of their girl friends. and said: 'I'm afraid I won't get a hard-on'. his sexuality and his professional potential. The main feature of this dream was that here. I interpreted that during the first part. He first decides to 'go ahead'. Much to my surprise. someone who has a brain tumour. He finds himself in a bar or restaurant.1 in a second stage of the dream. I told him that he also seemed to be mingled with his sister: in his dream he did not know who had the brain tumour. he had made an important contribution: he remembered a dream. he seems to try to escape from his melancholia and his selfdestructive feelings. and not using his brains is almost the equivalent of dying. We should repeat here that shortly before the father's suicide. in his dream. The second dream took place during the sixth month of therapy: the patient was not hospitalized any longer. and told me about it. During the second part of his dream. and he goes to the cemetery. He related this dream during a session in November. I interpreted for him: today. there emerged with growing ————————————— 1 This expression has an ambiguous linguistic meaning. a day when he had no session as he had been out all day with his sister. we analysed the fact that. wanting to come to his session. obfuscated and drunk. and he tries to keep both apart through his rituals: he uses this mechanism to . Perhaps he even located his dead father in his own penis. he had come to the session in a state of confusion. on a Monday. and then he sees two crosses. but someone else remains alive. In his daily life he does just what came up during the first part of hisdream: 'wanting to die.We think this session was extremely important and that it produced significant changes in the inner world of the patient. Furthermore. As we can see. where he orders an omelette. focused on his penis. he sees two people in a space. As the dream proceeds. During this session. Therefore. intelligent professional. by resorting to his psychoanalyst. an empty space. From the onset of our treatment I have been concerned because he thinks he can only be with his father in this way. he seemed to feel identified with his father's dead heart. on the preceding Monday. but on the left side there is a fatherwho is alive. an oral gratification. he only sees the person on the left hand side. Also. He produced very few associations. he is hungry for the nourishing interpretations I can provide for him. full of doubts and obsessivedefence mechanisms. there is only a hollow. his sister or himself. the transferential link fluctuated between melancholia and an apparent euphoria: I saw him as a manic-depressive. he said that on Sunday he went to the cemetery. for the first time. Besides. the dream has a prognostic nature regarding the transferential link between the patient and myself. He immediately associated this with his hypochondriac fears. As I noted earlier. The patient does not know if it is his sister or himself who has this tumour. but he was still under medication. or a room. by killing his young life. the one on the right is not present any more: in his place. During the session preceding the dream. In his dream. his father appeared to be alive. one of his favourite dishes. In his dream. it is also a Sunday. I commented that. . the patient's sister had been mistakenly diagnosed as suffering from a brain tumour.

as is the case here. During a session in December. are equivalent to the sperm he has to clean from the toilet. This reassessment of his relationship with the internal 'father' image was useful in understanding those moments of disappearance and loss of his internal objects. To summarize: we can see that all through these months there were melancholic mechanisms which alternated with obsessive defence mechanisms. after his father's death. when at the age of 18 he was falsely accused of raping a woman. He said 'I feel guilty because I have deflowered a girl'. we develop some comments about parricide and guilt. but also the internal image. and later on. thus telling his son. to a period when he was 10 or 12 years old. he could not avoid self-recrimination. the ultimate tragedy: his father's all too real suicide. When he omits taking precautions. on the oedipal fantasies and the obsessive defences dating from the age of 10. he separates the right hand side from the left hand side (the dead fatherfrom the living father). During other sessions. are sometimes difficult to differentiate from a diagnosis of true or puremelancholia (Freud. he was accused of rape and really believed he had injured his father. She had once come. I do not know what to do'. In another part of this paper. it became possible to analyse a whole set of obsessions and rituals which have dominated the patient's self since the age of 6: he was convinced his sexuality has caused his father's ruin. some new memories emerged. . the 'father' he carried within his self. The patient associated his father's behaviour towards him (he hits him instead of defending him) with a similar attitude towards his younger sister. sad and in tears.762 - secret ritual involving shoes: he separates the right shoe from the left shoe. what is alive from what is dead. especially when associated. we say during the treatment that he used his rituals to keep his feelings of guilt concerning masturbation separate from his sexual fantasies linked to his sisters. he described another . 1917). instead of feeling accused by his father. and he already had the same obsessive doubts and indulged in the same rituals. just as in his dream. He believed he could thus keep this object alive. Similarly. accusing father. the rituals and the persecution delusions in the street get much worse. love from hate. and seemed unable to achieve contact with his father. And all this is based. the son felt not only the disappearance of the external father role. Some examples: when the patient was 6. finally. his father's life. he felt sexual guilt. as soon as this was not the case. Our reconstruction shows that the cleanliness rituals represent similar episodes in the past. there was still no clear material related to anal masturbation. and believes he has made a young girl pregnant (end of January) it seems to me he wants to resurrect a life. At this time. he felt guilty because of masturbation and voyeurism. During a session in December. and the fantasy he entertained at that age returned to dominate his mind (self): his sexual games have caused the cancer in his father's testicles. which forced him to separate his dead. in the words of Shakespeare's King Lear: 'here I disclaim all my paternal care'. around the time he was released from prison. at 18. From this starting point. the 'good' from the 'bad'. alive and kind. which he thought guarantees the integrity of his ego: it is a defence against the fragmentation of his ego. with oedipal guilt. clearly masking sexual games with his sisters. tragically and irreparably.try to keep separate what is dirty from what is clean. But this ritual represents a regression which goes from the oedipal sexual to the anal level. his father imagined he had a 'testicular cancer' (he had no such thing). This event took him back to the age of 6. In other words: the father role only existed if the son was on his best behaviour. and caused no problems. especially guilt from the early. pre-oedipal superego. but which go further back in time. This happened once more when the father committed suicide. mixed with his obsessive defences. At that time. to tell their father that she was going to divorce her husband and the father had answered: 'Do not cry: if you cry. or the excrement. with a new birth. as long as he was the best pupil at school. his father's suicide. At the end of January. which he experienced as a total void. We seemed to be at the source of his fantasy about making his sisters pregnant. This episode sheds additional light on the father's behaviour during critical situations. at 18. in turn. These self-recriminations. The reconstruction and re-examination of both these episodes made him realize that the same thing had happened many times: his father liked him quite well. at 12. in which the filth on his shoes. In other words: the cleanliness rituals. from another father.

In other words: during the treatment of . an image of security and containment (Liberman. through the voice's music. SOME COMMENTS ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE OEDIPUS COMPLEX We must highlight the important role the father plays at a very early stage. firm and determined voice. Therefore.. . and the genital organization cannot be firmly established. she develops in her theory an idea about an early Oedipus complex. In otherwords. and in particular towards his father's penis. These intense relationships have a strong influence on the eroticization process and. 1986). represented by the therapist in the transference. conversely. and reciprocally. who thus achieve self-containment (as a group). In both cases. melancholic and suicidal person that you have to take care of …': later on. or shouldn't he? In the case of our patient. Freud was the first to describe the early function of the father in many of his writings (1898). I interpreted this dream as a battle against me. by communicating the image of a firm analyst. In addition. affects associated withsymptoms appear during adolescence. (1908). both share their doubts related to travelling by train: the Rat Man is beset by obsessive doubts when he wants to go to Vienna: should he call his friend? Should be board the train. as do self-recriminations which resemble melancholia.(Guiard. She links the early anxieties to this complex: very early anxiety and guilt situations cause an exaggerated fixation at the initial stages of the libidinal organization. They were the bonds of a child trying to care for his depressive and fragile parents. This is a technical aspect of treatments that I suggest my colleagues should consider. he related a dream. (1913). From the technical point of view. Probably the voice's melody (or phonology. there is therefore no delirious idea. caused by the fact that I had interrupted the sessions for some days. We can speak of obsessive doubts. Based on the transference material. Also. At some point in the analysis it became technically important to tell the patient that I was not a depressed person. 1977). His fear of harming me through his hate and his lack of control appears more clearly here. in which an air-sea battle takes place. it is possible to communicate. I prefer to work with these bonds only within the transference. By using a strong.The lack of a paternal role during episodes of critical need or anguish (anxiety) contributes to create intense symbiotic fraternal links among the siblings. with a strong voice. which is going on inside the patient. Part of the firmness inherent in the paternal role and the affective reliability of the mother were assumed by the eldest daughter (Anzieu. D. he also obsessively hesitates to take the train to go and see a girl friend. and that I could receive all his suffering. This is added to his obsessive qualms (doubts) about having made her pregnant. (1905). 1972). Some other theoretical considerations can be drawn from this case. no delusion. this subject was addressed by various authors. throughout the long treatment. It was only after some time that I was in a position to interpret for this patient that 'I am not a depressed. the patient discovered for himself (with the help of my interpretations) that I am not a depressed father. the Oedipus complex begins developing normally when the precocious anxieties decrease … It appears that the search for new sources of satisfaction is inherent in the progressive movement of the libido. our patient reminds us of 'The Rat Man': they share a pathological mourning process. I allowed thesechildhood bonds to unfold in the transference. I made him understand that I was there to take care of him. providing security and containment. Through the analysis of transference. as it is called in the theory of communication) is the most important element we have to communicate a strong and solidimage of the analyst. In the cases we present here. the oedipal development is hindered. weak and fragile mother and father.763 - some patients. the city in question is Buenos Aires. eroticization strengthens the relationships still more. this concept was also developed by Klein (1945) and her followers. as well as in other instances. because I try to have the patient first relive these bonds and affects intensely with me in the transference. During a later session. (1899). since there is no loss of his sense of reality. that I am not someone who is going to commit suicide. I can go for months without mentioning the words 'mother' or 'father'. an excessive tendency to regress to those early stages. Just as Freud tells us (1914b). during the treatment I allowed him to unfold and to repeat in the transference all his infantile history with his father and mother. we can say that the patient was a child who always tried to take care of a depressed. The satisfaction felt through the mother's breast allows the child to turn his desires towards other objects. (1900). Klein says the child searches for aspects of the father in the mother's body.

Jones (1927) defines a certain type of primal castration. McDougall (1985) describes it as follows: 'The anxiety of separation is the prototype of castration anxiety. this new desire receives a particular impulsion from the frustrations inflicted by the maternal breast. 1988). the world of autism (López. according to which identifications are not only introjective. In this dialectic interplay. Winnicott was also interested in the role of the father. expressed as fear of disintegration of thebody and loss of identity. as can be seen in the case of Cordelio. It is important to underline Freud's interest in the early alterations of the ego. p. he comments on the role of . or the primal scene. 2. The primal scene is then only a fantasy. Ahumada (1990) also develops the association between early and late traumas and their relationship with narcissistic identification. In an important work. the breast and the penis are the primary objects of oral desire in the child (Klein. Klein thinks of something more than a relationship with partial objects. the vagina. and stimulates in them the desire of an oral satisfaction through thefather's penis. In the clinical material that I describe here. but also in analysis terminable and interminable(Freud. 377–8. feminine as well as masculine figures are necessary. namely someone of the opposite sex'. If such a space is lacking. Mothers with masculine aspects. where he describes different situations: 1. there can also be later traumatic alterations. 1986). 1985). 1987). in other words. Even though he was basically devoted to the investigation of the early psyche. the mouth). The primitive castration is perceived as the lossor disintegration of parts of the body.Nevertheless. 4. even under the most favourable circumstances. On the subject of the father's role. Freud describes in Leonardo (1910) the model of the traumatic rupture which causes early alterations of the ego. I quote Freud: 'Indeed. but also projective (Segal. a mother who offers him a space within her. where the internal objects are in movement. 3. 1937). paraphrased). 1945). and suggests that the child associates the perception of those partial objects with his motherand father. The role the father plays in the erotic development of the son. not only in this work on Leonardo. Sometimes the projective identification enters certain erogenous zones (the anus. Freud tells us. Therefore. unfailingly leaves its traces in sexual perversions'. I would like to quote Freud's Leonardo (1910). The function of the father in the choice of the opposite sex. (Resnik. we enter the newly discovered world of children without projective identification. Just as the child imagines that his mind is full of moving objects. which can dominate the self. he also imagines the inside of the person in front of him as being full of objects. that is. it almost seems as though the presence of a strong father would ensure that the son made the correct decision in his choice of object. 'able to push the father out of his proper place'. Let us now examine the subject of castration: we can also speak of oedipal or pre-oedipal (more primitive) castration. He projects what happens in his mind. It is important to note that frustrations depend both from internal factors and real experiences. and describes it as an utter loss of libido and of stimulation through sexual contact: he calls it aphanisis (in Greek). pp. is a scene imagined within the internal world of the child. since what the child really wants is unlimited satisfaction. Meltzer (1973) thinks that the coitus. The self can achieve a projective identification within internal objects. In Through Paediatrics toPsycho-Analysis. and a certain frustration linked to the breast is inevitable. and she adds: 'These two conflicting relationships with the maternal breast are transferred onto the ulterior relationship with the father's penis' (Klein. Fathers who are absent from the very beginning: 'I was … strongly impressed by cases in which the father was absent from the beginning …'. This only happens if the child . 1945. and the presence andabsence of the mother are the factors around which the first Oedipal structuring will be built … The trauma of primal castration. and he believes it to happen in his mother's body. who are. The frustration felt concerning the maternal breast causes the boy as well as the girl to abandon it.(Tustin. says Freud(1910. This is the continuation of Klein's original line. She notes that frustration and satisfaction give shape to the relationship between the baby and the good and loved breast and the bad and hated breast. 99).764 - finds a receptive space.

1. I think that the interpretation of the previous material made it possible for the dream with a live father to emerge. p. and an assistant escorted him to my office. for before a child has arrived at a definite knowledge of the difference between the sexes. The pre-oedipal level is developed in my quotation from Klein.the father as providing 'holding' for the mother. and giving her support. 3. we cannot exclude the guilt fantasies for his father's oedipal murder. The patient described the assistant as mannered and homosexual. 4. the early role of the mother is raised when I cite Freud: Perhaps it would be safer to say 'with the parents'. 6. Where I comment on the early psyche. and the normal Oedipus complex originates from their confluence (p. Of course. we may infer the existence of homosexual transference fantasies that the patient uses to relate to the therapist. by confronting problems (Winnicott. they come together at last. A way to evade his feminine or homosexual transference to the therapist. 1921): He then exhibits. two psychologically distinct ties: a straightforward sexual object-cathexis towards his mother and an identification with hisfather which takes him as his mode. The previous hypothesis emerged during the session at the time he was hospitalized. helped the patient to dream for the first time about his live father. his homosexual fantasies related to me appeared more clearly. I would like to emphasize the importance of preoedipal material in the case of the patient Cordelio. thus escaping his feminine homosexual erotic feelings for the therapist. 7. The clinical material suggests transferential homosexual fantasies. believing that this was the only way that he would be loved.765 - began speaking about masturbatory and erotic rituals involving his sisters watching from another room. my italics). which points out the mother's role). 5. which. it does not distinguish in value between its father and its mother (Freud. We can expand on this theory by thinking in terms of a masculine-feminine confusion or ambivalence. in 1992. 1923. . therefore. once they were carefully analysed in the transference. It is possible that the emergence and discussion during his treatment of erotic and incestuous fantasies involving his sisters are a way to show himself as a male who gets excited about women. that is so important in the case of Cordelio. The work which followed in the transference made it possible to differentiate the parricidal fantasy (the introjection of a primitive superego) from reality: his dead father. 31). when I re-examine these ideas. as well as identification with the father. 2. We can also theoretically explain the emergence of erotic material concerning his sisters from other standpoints. 105. p. At this session. in the following text (Freud. 8. I would like to transcribe one of Freud's best descriptions of the mother's early role. In the chapter on identification of his work on 'Group Psychology' (1921. In consequence of the irresistible advance towards a unification of mental life. he says: 'Identification is known to psycho-analysis as the earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person'. In order to emphasize the pre-oedipal importance of the mother. as well as the importance of the mother's early role. We can surmise that he searched for his father by playing the role of his sister (a woman). 105). Today. both wanting and fearing to succeed. Otherreferences and comments on the role of the father in several of Winnicott's articles and papers can be found in Davis & Wallbridge (1981) and Panceira (1989). the lack of apenis. The two subsist side by side for a time without any mutual influence or interference. 1975). In other words. He also stresses the early importance of the mother in a description that is fundamental for the creation of the patient's mental life (I refer the reader to the clinicalmaterial in this paper. It is very important from the technical standpoint to analyse the guilt caused by the real death and suicide of a father as distinct from pre-oedipal and oedipal fantasies. It was precisely after this session that the patient .

In this paper Freud points out that identification 'is the most primitive form of emotional tie with an object: or identification replaces the tie with the object introjecting it regressively in the ego' (Freud. 1911). 1992). 1921). In the first.766 - not univocal. by introjection. Hence. there existed first a cathexis and later the abandonment of the object which. added to introjections resulting from the mourning of oedipal objects. when he describes the ego ideal and moral conscience. (Brudny. Money Kyrle (1965b) develops an interesting opinion on the subject of identification. and we quote: analytic experience seems to suggest three special stages in the development of representational thought. 1967). my italics). In his lectures on Freud's theories. (Bion. Primary identifications take place at an earlierstage. He adds that in some of Freud's texts. remains installed in the ego: this type of identification. with the object. Then Etchegoyen says: 'Understanding in such a simple … way the mechanism that leads to secondary identification. (Brudny.The identifications and introjections in the present clinical case are not the only possible explanation enabling us to understand all psychoses. This is how Freud explains the origin of the superego: through the mourning of oedipal objects. 1921). and how the pathological working out of mourning leads to a narcissistic identification. 3). perturbed identifications are the problem. and their definition depends on Freud's interest and the level of his analysis in his various works. 1980). They are developmental facts (Avenburg. among other problems. He describes the passage from a narcissistic object choice to the working out of that object's loss. because of the pragmatic paradoxes they are submitted to: if the . the use of 'concepts' to represent absentor separate objects. while in others. they are not lost. introjective or projective. and forms a link with the rest of the ego. that is. 400. and he points out that in The Ego and the Id. 108 and quoted by Etchegoyen in 1985). 1990). secondary identifications are set up later on (resulting from object mourning) (Freud. according to Freud. identification 'may arise with any new perception of a common quality shared with some other person who is not an object of the sexual instinct' (p. constitute the superego. I believe all identifications can be lost as a result of a traumatic episode. The object has entered the psychic apparatus. is always secondary to an object cathexis (p. pre-oedipal identifications can be understood as primary. This part is dissociated. And also. Much of Melanie Klein's work was concerned with that kind of 'concrete representation byidentification' (p. as I have already described in an earlier paper on identification in the context of Nazism. Ricardo Avenburg says that the Freudian concepts of primary and secondary identification are sometimes . These identifications reinforce primary identifications (Freud. In Mourning and Melancholia(1917). 1980). (Ahumada. what later may become a representation of an absent or separate object is experienced in a concrete way as anidentification. as a part of the ego itself. Freud is now able to contrast the latter with primary identification (which he had already described in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego(1921)'. 1939). These patients may lose their introjected fathers. These identifications. The expression 'the shadow of the object fell upon the ego' is a metaphor. (1923). or by an identification with a psychotic father and/or mother. the identifications taken by the ego derive from the introjection of the parents at the end of the Oedipus complex. and the prognosis is not dependent on their being primary or secondary. the object becomes part of the psychic apparatus. In the melancholic's identification with the lost object and in that of the child with his oedipal parents. therefore. It is not quite true that secondary identifications have a better prognosis than primary ones. Freud begins to consider identification as a more important and vital mechanism for the psychic apparatus—with constitutive and modifying effects on that apparatus—especially in his paper on narcissism (1914b). Etchegoyen (1985) developed the concepts of primary and secondary identification. whereas the relationships among mnemonic traces are lost(Freud. he uses the term 'identification' for this mechanism. and as such. Narcissistic identifications take place through narcissistic object choices. it is clear that all secondary identifications follow an oedipal identification. (1989). Identifications are mnemonic traces of perceptions. (1924a). Psychoses are not always caused by a disturbance of identifications.

1972). It was all a lie'. man-facing-the-world. Order. it means he has never loved me.. capable of driving the child who receives them literally mad. The role of the father could be called the role of the decoder. and the transference/countertransference dialectic exchange. different realities that have to be confronted and personal traits. the relationship with the outside world is not only the relationship of the child-towardsthe-world. If we accept this model. Introjections can also be lost. therefore I can use nothing of what he has given me. but rather a dialectic one: the small groupis the intermediary. It is the small group. and the child is left with only one way out: to fragment his self. his answer will be considered to be wrong. is often much richer. where the child is first integrated within the small group. the fact of the actual suicide committed by thefather disarticulates the structures of the ego. The recovery of those structures is. as far as it is possible to achieve. 1968). Introjective identifications do not remain immutable. it is because he does not love me. Sometimes theory alone cannot encompass in its entirety the richness and the dialectics of clinical psychoanalysis. as the philosophers say. it does not rectify the paradoxical messages emitted by the motheror by other members of the primary group. etc. The same happens to our patient Cordelio: this patient loses his identifications with his father. according to the personal ability of each of them to include the child in symbolic. I shall leave to the readers the task of drawing their own conclusions from these theoretical discussions. inclusion within social. In psychosis. even though the loss is not permanent.767 - of the framework. 1984). I am interested in the creation or the reconstruction of the father's role in the context of transference. Clinical practice. and if he identifies with him as a Jew. It may be sending double bind messages. (1985). this role is not played. or lose the links of the relationships between mnemonic traces (Rosenfeld. or. contradicting orders. through the group. either outside or inside himself. with its interplay of projective identifications. untangling and disassembling what is known in the theory of communication as the paradoxical messages. 1968).individual identifies with his father as a man. or the 'specialization' of each member of the family. for instance— roles are functional and interchangeable according to different situations. to go mad. fixed schedules. In the dynamics of small groups—a family. (1986). affective. tangential answers. (1988). and thus not helping the child to extricate himself from the pragmatic paradoxes in which they are both immersed. As a clinician. This is how his self decodes his father's suicide. as Sartre tells us (1960). he is killed because he is a man. responsible for clearing out. In this sense. There is ongoing movement and change. The role of the father is fulfilled only when the child's primary anxieties find an . or the pragmatic paradoxes. are as many different ways of creating an order and a rationale of differences. after examining the clinical case I present here. and it is from that starting point. concrete effects. What is important is the paternal task or role. His father's suicide triggers in him the same pragmatic paradox (typical of psychoses): 'If he kills himself. and of making it possible for a common semantic universe to exist. and not man alone. I conceive it differently: it is a dialectic relationship. since these messages cause real and concrete effects (Watzlawick et al.. The oedipal murder. whatever he answers. This could be seen in my work in the transference. more dynamic and more dialectic than most theories. the limits within time. disqualifying comments. Each family member can fulfil partial aspects of the 'role of the father' and even substitute for him in some cases. who faces the world. the family. he is killed because he is a Jew (Rosenfeld. as well as in codes of knowledge and thought. affective and symbolic codes is achieved through the family group. and for helping the child out of them. in the present case. what is permitted. I specially want to stress double bind messages. Those are the messages which specialists in the theory of communication define as being capable of causing real. The guilt caused by the fantasy of an oedipal murder compounds the problem. introjections. or to try to eliminate the source of the message. Hence the term 'pragmatic' used to identify them. Other concepts about the father's role. that contact with the outside reality and knowledge of it is achieved. the rules . or through each of its members. and of modifying the self and the behaviour of the message's receptor (Liberman. and social codes. (Watzlawick et al. Let us note that the essence of paradoxical messages is that nothing the child does or says is considered right or adequate.. 1986). It is not a mechanical relationship. the function of the psychoanalyst.

affects. psychotic anxieties and parasitical . One facet of the father role consists in imparting an affective coherence to sensations and perceptions in the world of living objects surrounding the child. make sexual differentiation possible. 1971). In some societies. or internal object relations. This role can not be severed from the role of the mother. Hence. obviously pertain exclusively to the woman-mother. Annie Anzieu (1989) says: 'Hate against maternal contents and the envy they generate are strong enough to elicit a catastrophic sentiment of limitation or smothering in the womanbeing. Serious disappointments or traumas may blur or erase and cause the loss of previous introjections. To summarize: the role of the father is specially important and significant at the pre-oedipal stages. Just as the united siblings can substitute for the mother's absence. or the real father. Only when pre-oedipal roles are fulfilled. the child's fears. a full mental space from the void. If there is not a father's and a mother's space. is his capacity to contain. He must have both time and space available. the cohesive group can substitute for the absent father's role. The father must be available to receive projective identifications. Being receptive does not mean being a woman. 138). for assistance and help given to the internal world. The father's real presence within a family does not guarantee the existence of the paternal role. with a known voice. or played. the maternal role. It is a role of holding. and indissoluble from. thus leading to the completion of a long developmental process.appropriate holding. The male person playing the role of the father must allow and foster a masculine sexual identification. I shall return to this subject later on. It is complementary to. the child will not learn to develop these useful identifications. It is well known that the father role. Inconsistency can cause disappointments.768 - projective identifications. One aspect of the father's receptive capacity which must be complemented by the maternal. or primary group. This can only be achieved when it becomes possible to differentiate the outside from the inside. The primal scene enacts paternal and maternal roles in movement. But through my experience with seriously ill . There is a permanent need for support. or when the paternal role exists as a psychological presence. linked to the female body. The role of the father is only useful when it fulfils the needs of each one of the stages of developmental evolution the child goes through. receptive and feminine role. It is only then that depressive anxieties and introjective identification of the total object can be experienced. or feminine. nor introjective ones. must play. and to modify them before sending them back. within his internal space. it is a stage full of characters. of receptivity. some fathers are present all day long. its structuring and its resolution are fundamental for mental structuring. and must also be capable of resisting projective identifications that are encroaching or parasitical in nature (Abelin. We said before that the role of the father is one of the roles that the small group. Some concepts of the interior space. and not merely a physical one. and the role of the father at the oedipal stage comes only later. anxieties and fears. due to the modeling her maternal "container" is subjected to' (p. I from you. does it become possible to enter the world of total objects and the Oedipus complex described by Freud. A constant and dependable role of the father. as a whole. touch and melody. Its absence is at the root of psychosis. and are still absent psychologically. and through the creation of the psychological concept of a skin enveloping and containing. I emphasize that the father role is the role of a decoder of messages. of containing the affects. so that it may contain objects possessing functions and roles from which the development of fantasies can emerge. odour. to create a psychological envelope for him. The absence of a third party makes it difficult to conceive a three-dimensional space. Receptivity is indispensable to contain the child. within which the child develops. and this task involves both parents. and a steadfast affection are indispensable in order to be credible for the child. available to receive his projective identifications. social codes ascribe to the man-father the role of confronting outside reality. The true nourishment for the self is affective and psychological caring. a facilitator of the primary group. a sort of protective skin. as I have observed in the course of my work with children. and both constitute a dialectic process. alone capable of carrying and giving birth to the child. play the leading role in the Oedipus complex.

E. 1981 Boundary and Space London: Karnac Books.S. 1 [→] FREUD.E. It was not my aim to embark on a theoretical discussion of primary and secondary identification. Psychoanal. BRAUDEL. L. as well as many other functions which are beyond words. S. BRUDNY. S. L'Espace et l'Histoire Paris: Flamarion. The role of the father does not exist as a thing-in-itself. Univ. a structure and a set of relationships and links are involved. S. & WALLBRIDGE. McDevitt & C. for the role of the father to be fulfilled by the real father of the child. J. There is also envy and hate.E. pp. it would be desirable. R.E. psychotic patients. 66:3-18 [→] FREUD. N. D. F. 11 [→] . perceptions and affects. Settlage. and the identifications he goes through. 1990 AVENBURG. Many things can be written about the role of the father. S. D. his own manner of managing schizoid. Of course.patients (drug addicts. 2/1 401-486 BRUDNY. and beyond the scope of this presentation. The role of the father can also sometimes be assigned by the child. 9 [→] . is a child who does not allow his mother to be a mother. The same happens with children who do not allow their father to be a father.E. 229-252 AHUMADA. S. with a unitary image focusing and concentrating all the various functions and roles we have listed.). his own way of organizing feelings. 1975 El Aparato Psiquico y la Realidad Buenos Aires: Nueva Visin. either through normalcommunication. 1989 La Femme sans Qualit. affecting the reception of introjections within his internal world.770 - FREUD. Esquisse Psychanalytique de la Feminit Paris: Dunod. Asociacin Psicoanalitica de Buenos Aires (APdeBA). 1992 Personal Communication BION. Obviously. R. I have become increasingly aware of the existenceof micro-cultures that have their own particular codes. A. Quite the opposite: this role is a long. REFERENCES ABELIN. W. 1990 On narcissistic identification and the shadow of the object Int. G. 1986 A Skin for Thought London: Karnac Books. J. The child can have his own disorders. or ideal. E. ETCHEGOYEN. an extremely complex subject in the writings of Freud. 5 [→] FREUD. What we call the role of the father is a dynamic process. AVENBURG. Revista de la Asociacin Psicoanalitica de Buenos Aires (APdeBA). 7 [→] FREUD. and probably never-ending dialectic process of . massive or omnipotent style. 1910 Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood. S. G. paranoid and depressive anxieties. Press. The child has his own fantasies. or else in an exaggerated. R. allow me to quote a Baudelaire poem: Bien qu'on ait du coeur à l'ouvrage. 1989 Conferencia sobre metapsicologia en Freud. F. An infant turning his head away. etc. and the son is included within this global whole. 3 [→] FREUD. J. R. SUMMARY My main objective in this article is to show the changes which take place in the inner world of a young patient after his father's suicide. M.E. and not a static definition. S.. he may also have his own particular manner of using projective identifications. refusing the breast and rejecting his mother's care.769 - creation and learning. New York: Int. 1899 Letters numbered S. S. ANZIEU. 1967 Second Thoughts London: Heinemann. 1900 The Interpretation of Dreams (Chapter 4). DAVIS. 1985 La Mediterrane. 1971 The role of the father in the separation-individuation process In SeparationIndividuation ed. J. L'art est long et le temps est court. 1898 Sexuality in the aetiology of the neuroses S. Psychoanal. 1985 Identification and its vicissitudes Int. 17:177-188 [→] ANZIEU. We can also see the solid primary identifications which made it possible for this patient to get better and achieve a cure. I hope the clinical material presented succeeds in doing so. 1980 La represin primaria en la obra de Sigmund Freud Psicoanlisis. 1905 Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. 1908 On the sexual theories of children S.

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