The Presidential Address: The Shame of the Father: The Paternal Principle, the Patriarchy and the Subjective Experience of the Father
Discussant: Carol Gilligan, Ph.D.
October 13th, 8pm-9:30pm
To provide an account of how the father is portrayed in psychoanalytic theories as a transference figure without his own subjectivity.
To formulate an interpersonal perspective on the subjective experience of the father in the family during a declining patriarchy.
Freud’s paternal principle is an unconscious presence that functions independent of the actual person of the father of childhood. As the third to the mother-infant dyad, this paternal function is of singular importance, while simultaneously placing the subjective experience of the father in the muted position of being an absent authority. As the paternal principle suggests, the father is largely a transference phenomenon enacted by the child to imbue the person of the father with his power, rendering him paradoxically in a vulnerable position. Furthermore, his power, dependent on the perception of the child, is often eventually attributed to others. Despite a patriarchy in decline, the patriarch of the father’s own childhood remains as a paternal bastion holding men accountable to this archaic ideal, while no longer being perceived as powerful by his children and without the support of the patriarchal systems of the past. The paternal principle has direct implications for the treatment setting modeled on developmental theories of the mother-infant relationship.
David Braucher, L.C.S.W., Ph.D. is a Graduate of The William Alanson White Institute and President of the White Society. He is on the Editorial Board of the journal, Contemporary Psychoanalysis, and Executive Editor of the blog, Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Action. He is a supervisor and member of the faculty of White’s Intensive Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Program. He has lectured at the NYU School of Social Work. He writes on relationships and is in private practice in The West Village/Chelsea in Manhattan.