Psychoanalytic and Psychotherapeutic Perspectives on Step-families and Step-parenting

Author(s) : Prophecy Coles

Psychoanalytic and Psychotherapeutic Perspectives on Step-families and Step-parenting

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Psychoanalytic and Psychotherapeutic Perspectives on Step-families and Step-parenting looks at the role step-parents can play in the psychic development of children. Step-parenting requires enormous confidence and resilience that stretches into a territory of human emotions and conflict that can make marriage seem easy. Prophecy Coles' concern has been that we are witnessing a new kinship system and our psychological thinking has not kept up with the emotional effect that stepparents are having upon the next generation. The author traces the history of our beliefs about step-parents through the oral tradition of the fairy story into our present, arguably prejudiced beliefs about them. Coles explores whether our feelings about step-parents arise from the unconscious tradition that placed step-parents in hostile opposition to the natural forces of parenting.

The absence of detailed clinical work on the subject has meant that the author has drawn on interviews, biography and three long term research projects to think about this new family constellation. Covering such topics as the prevalence and importance of step-mothers historically, the reasons for psychoanalytic neglect of this subject, and using clinical material drawn from work with step-mothers, children and fathers, this is a much-needed guide to working with families affected by maternal loss and alternative parenting roles. It will encourage a further appreciation of the psychological difficulties that stepparents face, and at the same time offer a re-appraisal of the pain that young children go through when their parents decide to separate. Psychoanalytic and Psychotherapeutic Perspectives on Step-families and Step-parenting will appeal greatly to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists.

About the Author(s)

Prophecy Coles trained as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist at the Lincoln Clinic and is a member of the London Centre for Psychotherapy. She has worked as a psychotherapist for 30 years and has published widely on sibling relationships, family and transgenerational conflict.

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