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Recovering The Father In Mind And Flesh: History, Triadic Functioning, And Developmental Implications

The Psychoanalytic Quarterly

Published online on


This paper aims to restore the father and paternal function to their rightful place alongside the mother and maternity in order to counter the prevailing matricentric, dyadic bias in psychoanalytic theory and technique. The author contends that both the symbolic and the actual, flesh‐and‐blood father are necessary to optimize his child's development. The paternal function inevitably operates in a triadic matrix; thirdness is always psychically in existence—with the father ever present in the mother's unconscious mind—and the paternal third is necessary to open up symbolic space. As an embodied other, the actual father, both as a separating agent and an attracting object, is called upon to recognize his child's otherness throughout the inescapable father–child rivalries, neglect, and desire.