The Harm That Fathers Do Publication date : May 23, 2013
Danièle Brun is a psychoanalyst and a professor of psychopathology at the University of Paris-VII-Denis Diderot. She is the author of Mères majuscules, Les Enfants perturbateurs and La Passion dans l’amitié.
‘There’s an age when one stops believing in Santa Claus. And yet the tendency to assimilate one’s father with Santa Claus is a habit that dies hard. And although His Majesty the Father no longer gets the red-carpet treatment, fathers retain their place in everyone’s dreams and narcissism, whether male or female.
‘The relation to the father demands immense reserves of strength and seductiveness, essentially because the child has to capture the attention of someone who is spontaneously blind, absent, busy with something else, and who must be challenged in the hopes of forming an alliance with him, once he has been driven out of his stronghold.
‘Because the father’s demands require so much effort, what is natural in the relationship is deeply shaken. It seems that nowadays the harm the father inflicts — previously disavowed and deliberately ignored in Freud’s works, in favour of an iconic idealised image — has risen to the surface to be subjected to questioning.’
• The experiences of men and women who have been deeply scarred by their fathers.
• An analysis of fathers’ very specific role in their children’s lives and construction.
• A challenge to Freud’s customary exoneration of paternal responsibility.