Rapprochement Between Fathers and Sons: Breakdowns, Reunions, Potentialities

Author(s) : Louis Rothschild

Rapprochement Between Fathers and Sons: Breakdowns, Reunions, Potentialities

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : November 2023
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 260
  • Category :
  • Catalogue No : 97295
  • ISBN 13 : 9781800132382
  • ISBN 10 : 1800132387
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Following Freud’s rather cold conception of fathers and a relative neglect of their role in psychoanalytic theory is a challenge to continue more recent efforts to develop a psychoanalytically affirmative portrait of fatherhood. Here, fathers are attuned to relational mutuality and intimacy as a source of flourishing. Rapprochement is understood as a sub-phase of child development marked by a dramatic expression of conflict such as, “Hear me, see me, give me space, don’t give me space.” In addition, rapprochement is considered to characterize conflicts between autonomy and dependency across the lifespan. An often muted and subtle tension between holding and letting go persists. Working with what is felt entails entering a never fully completed negotiation marked by misreadings, bias, and illusion. ‘Father’ is understood to be a name pointing to a parenting function. With material that includes the grief of failed reunion, particular stories are mediated through thinking alongside philosophy and psychoanalytic theory in order to further explore the difficulty of integrating nurturing capacities into conceptions of masculinity. As a critique of gendered rigidity, a case is made for a social surround that declares mutual vulnerability to exist in a state of permanent inquiry and relational curiosity. Such openness can function to aid parents, clinicians, and respective community members to privilege the development of increased frustration tolerance. By extension, a good-enough father is one who recognizes breakdown, a need for refueling, and possesses and practices a willingness to encounter uneven rhythms in human dimensions.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘After its foundational preoccupation with a child’s relationship with his or her father, psychoanalysis took a radical turn towards the maternal, a turn that lasted for over half a century. Louis Rothschild's book is both an outstanding representative of the subsequent “return to the father” and a unique explication of psychoanalytic thought on its own. Crisscrossing between mythology, fiction, film studies, children's literature, and contemporary psychoanalytic praxis, Rothschild unveils a portrait of fatherhood as an amalgam of strength and tenderness that spurs the offspring’s autonomy while allowing on-going dependency as well. The word “rapprochement” in the title of his book embodies not only the blend of firmness and compassion in fathering, but also the heuristic benefits reaped by psychoanalysis’ interaction with related disciplines of humanities. This is a book of great literary elegance and impressive psychological wisdom.’
Salman Akhtar, MD, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, Jefferson Medical College, Training and Supervising Analyst, Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia

‘There is a lack of nuanced explorations of contemporary masculinity beyond stereotypes in psychoanalytic and psychosocial writing. Louis Rothschild's Rapprochement between Fathers and Sons: Breakdowns, Reunions, Potentialities takes the reader on an imaginative, rich, and often surprising journey through good-enough fatherhood, holding, and its failures. The book draws on a wide range of literary narratives while situating its subjects in their historical and social context. I would highly recommend it.’
Lene Auestad, Dr of Philosophy, founder of the conference series Psychoanalysis and Politics, associate member of the Norwegian Psychoanalytical Society

Table of Contents

About the author

Fleshing out fathers and sons in familial contexts

1. Finding a father: Repetition, difference, and fantasy in Finding Nemo
2. It is still hot: Wild things across centuries of childhood
3. The Giving Tree and spaceship dreams: Terrestrial embodiment and ethics of the outside

Sons and flight lessons

4. Icarus as falling forever: Unearthing the maternal in father hunger and endeavor excitement
5. Coercive elements and the threat of child sacrifice: The Lego Movie
6. On hunger and freedom: Huck Finn’s Pharmakon
7. Stealing a bad feed in the night kitchen
8. Peter Pan dances with Frankenstein: Wise babies facing/not facing challenges of integration

Fathers and homecomings

9. Abraham’s and Isaac’s fear and silence
10. Ulysses beached: Absence and faith in transformations
11. Father to the good-enough man: Vulnerability in The Trumpet of the Swan

Further thoughts

About the Author(s)

Louis Rothschild, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in Baltimore County, Maryland. Specializing in psychoanalytic psychotherapy, he also provides supervision, writes, and occasionally reviews manuscripts. His publications have ranged from quantitative to qualitative, social-cognitive to psychoanalysis, and clinical to philosophical. Most recently, he penned an epilogue for Salman Akhtar’s edited book Truth: Developmental, Cultural, and Clinical Realms, and co-edited Precarities of 21st Century Childhoods: Critical Explorations of Time(s), Place(s), and Identities with Michael O’Loughlin and Carol Owens. Outside of his professional life, Louis has a fondness for tennis, triathlon, and chasing a rather elusive sourdough starter in the kitchen.

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