save the date!

April 29-30, 2006
New York, NY

The Dead Father

a two-day international symposium


What has become of the Father?

One place America turns for answers is television. There, a Father is “Six Feet Under” and a family negotiates his absence. Another drama, Crime Scene Investigators, scrutinizes and dissects corpses for clues. Is there really a poverty of “Law and Order” in our culture?  In ‘reality’ shows, the Father is notoriously absent.

In western theory, even the ethereal life of a famous dead Father such as the ghost of Hamlet’s father has eventually been threatened by the pronouncement that “God is dead” (Nietzsche). And psychoanalysis itself has been indicted for the alleged ‘death of the author’ (Barthes) and ‘death of the subject’ (Althusser), leading some psychoanalysts to insist that “Freud is dead” (Lear).  In American psychoanalysis, Green’s seminal paper on “The Dead Mother” has been superceded by the statistical study of maternal function, leading in many circles to neglect of the study of paternal function and obviating a conception of the third.

One might think, from listening to the discourse of the street—in which “big-” and “sugar-” ‘daddies’ are invoked*—or at the baseball stadium—where victory has come to mean being “daddy”, and where a game dominated by rules but unmarked by time and played by men wielding clubs was vitally therapeutic for a traumatized nation**—that the symbolic Father is alive and well. Or, one might think, from the alignment of science with law and order on television, and from the replacement of theory with ‘science’ in psychoanalysis, that the Father’s symbolic demise demonstrates progress.

Yet there are signs that we should not jump to such conclusions. From the clinic, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued in 2004 a position statement noting the changing role of, and the relative absence of, the Father in American family life, including alternative parental couples, and detailing ways for pediatricians to re-engage fathers in the care of their children. Separately, two independent information campaigns***, speaking for children on public buses, recently reminded us that “my mommy can’t be my daddy too” and “fathers matter.” On a larger scale, fundamentalist ideologies across the globe wage war ‘in the name of a Father’ in order to reestablish his position in culture.

This conference intends to raise and address questions deriving from clinical experience and observations such as these above. What are corporeal aspects of Fatherhood? How does the Father’s body function in the mind? What is the role of the Father in theory in a so-called ‘postmodern’ era? On a symbolic level, is the Father still present in western culture and how does he function in the 21st century?

* and who, exactly is that ubiquitous “motherfucker” anyhow? Is it still the father? What is the psychological significance of this construction/expletive?

** see:

*** see:

The conference will take place on April 29-30, 2006 in New York City, and will include contributions from internationally recognized clinicians and scholars.

invitations accepted:
Marilia Aisenstein
Vincent Crapanzano
Andre Green
James Herzog
Gregorio Kohon
Thomas Laqueur

Eric Laurent

Reading list (in progress):

Aisenstein, M (1996). A deadly and sexually transmissible disease: life, Revue Francaise de Psychanalyse. Vol 60(1):77-80. 

Aisenstein, M (2000). Between the cultural Superego and "a pure culture ofthe death instinct." Revue Francaise de Psychanalyse 64(5): 1631-1634. 

Aisenstein, M (2001). Psychoanalytic psychotherapy does not exist, inFrisch and Hinshelwood, et al. (eds). Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy: The controversies and the future. The EFPP clinical monograph series, London: Karnac. 

Aisenstein, M (2002), From medicine to psychoanalysis and psychosomatics, Jahrbuch der Psychoanalyse 44:48- 62.

Aisenstein, M (2003), “Does the Cure Come as a Byproduct of Psychoanalytic Treatment?” Psychoanalytic Quarterly LXXII(1)

Aisenstein, M (2005), “The Psyche-Soma and the Psychoanalytic Cure: The French School of Psychosomatics” on January 28, 2005 lecture at the British Psychoanalytical Society, Intitute of Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalysis in Britain Today series

Blos, P. (1985). Son and father: Before and beyond the Oedipus complex. New York: The Free Press.

Britton, R. (1998)  Subjectivity, objectivity and triangular space, in Belief and Imagination, London: Routledge, pp 41-58.

Cath, SH,  Herzog, JM (1988), The dying and death of a father, in Cath and Gurwitt, et al. (eds), Father and child: Developmental and clinical perspectives, Cambridge: Basil Blackwell.

Coleman, WL, Garfield, C and the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health (2004), “Fathers and Pediatricians: Enhancing Men’s Roles in the Care and Development of Their Children", Pediatrics 113(5):1406-1411, 5 May 2004.

Crapanzano, V (1980), Tuhami: Portrait of a Moroccan, Universityof Chicago Press. 

Crapanzano, V (1992), Hermes' Dilemma and Hamlet's Desire: On the Epistomology of Interpretation, Cambridge: Harvard. 

Crapanzano, v (1998),'Lacking Now Is Only the Leading Idea, That Is—We, the Rays, Have No Thoughts': Interlocutory Collapse in Daniel Paul Schreber's  Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, Critical Inquiry 24(3):737-767. 

Crapanzano, V (2000), Serving the Word: Literalism in America from the  Pulpit to the Bench, New York: New Press. 

Davis, NZ (1983), The Return of Martin Guerre, Cambridge: Harvard. 

Fonda, P (1971) “The Hired Hand” (DVD), Sundance Channel LLC, #SHO-9025, 2003.

Freud, S (1929) Civilization and Its Discontents, SE XXI, London: Hogarth Press.

Gardner, R (2003) “Alpha Women, Beta Men”, New York Magazine, 17 November 2003.

Green, A (1983) “The Dead Mother” in On Private Madness, London: Hogarth, 1986.

Green, A, Stern, D, Perelberg RJ, et al (2000), in Clinical and Observational Psychoanalytic Research: Roots of a Controversy, London: Karnac)

Greenacre, P (1963), The Quest for the Father: A Study of the Darwin-Butler Controversy, As a Contribution to the Understanding of the Creative Individual. New York: International Universities Press. 

Herzog, J (1982), World beyond metaphor: Thoughts on the transmission of trauma

Herzog, J (1982), World beyond metaphor: Thoughts on the transmission of trauma, in Bergmann and Jucovy (eds), Generations of the Holocaust, New York: Columbia University Press.

Herzog, JM (2001), Father Hunger: Explorations with Adults and Children, Hillsdale: Analytic Press.

Jung, CG, The Significance of the Father in the Destiny of the Individual, The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, vol.4: Freud and Psychoanalysis, Bollingen, 1961.

Kalinich, L (1985), “The Phallic Burden”

Klein, M. (1930) The Importance of symbol formation in the development of the ego, in Love, Guilt and Reparation and Other Works 1921-1945 (The Writings of Melanie Klein, Vol 1), New York: Free Press, 1984.

Kohon, G (1986), The British School of Psychoanalysis: The Independent Tradition, London: Free Association.

Kohon, G (1999), No Lost Certainties to Be Recovered: Sexuality, Creativity, Knowledge, London: Karnac.

Kohon, G (1999) “The Greening of psychoanalysis: Andre Green in dialogues with Gregorio Kohon”, in The Dead Mother: the work of Andre Green, London: Routledge / New Library of Psychoanalysis.

Lacan, J (1969-70) Seminar 17: Psychoanalysis Upside Down, tr. C Gallagher, London: Karnac, 2001. 

Lacan, J (1969-70) Seminar 17: The Other Side of Pychoanalysis, tr. R Grigg, New York: Norton, Spring 2005.

Laqueur, TW (1990), The Facts of Fatherhood in Evelyn Fox-Keller and Maryanne Hirsch, eds. Debates in Feminism (Routledge, 1990) and variously reprinted.

Laqueur, TW (1990), Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud, Cambridge: Harvard. 

Laqueur, TW (1996), "Names, Bodies, and the Anxiety of Erasure" in Thesocial and political body, Schatzki and Natter (eds), New York : Guilford Press. 

Laqueur, TW, (200?) The Dead Among the Living (forthcoming) 

Lansky, M (1992), Fathers Who Fail: Shame and Psychopathology in The Family System, Hillsdale: Analytic Press. 

Laurent, E (1999), The Pass and the Guarantee in the School, Psychoanalytical Notebooks of the London Circle 2.

Laurent, E (2000), The Real and the Group, Psychoanalytical Notebooks of The London Circle 4.

Laurent, E (2004), Relieve Anxiety?  Mental 13

Lear, J (1998) “Knowingness and Abandonment: An Oedipus for Our Time” in Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul, Cambridge: Harvard.

McDougall, J (1989) “The dead father: on early psychic trauma and its relation to disturbance in sexual identity and in creative activity”,  International Journal of Psycho-Analysis 70(part2):205-19.

Ross, JM,  Herzog, JM (1985). The sins of the father: Notes on fathers, aggression, and pathogenesis, in  Anthony and Pollock (eds), Parental influences: In health and disease, New York: Little, Brown and Co. 

Segal, H. (1993)  Symbolism (Chap. 3) and Mental Space and Elements of Symbolism (Chap. 4) in Dream, Phantasy and Art, London:Routledge.

Shakespeare, W, Hamlet

Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus

Strenger, C (2004) “NOBROW: Identity Formation in a Fatherless Generation”
Psychoanalytic Psychology 21(4): 499–515

Taylor, S (2004), “Commmentary on ‘The Hired Hand’”

Thibaudier, Viviane (1995) “Seven sermons for bringing the dead father back to life” Journal of Analytical Psychology 40(3): 365-81, Spec Issue, Jul.

Trowell, G and Etchegoyan, A (2001): The Importance of Fathers: A Psychoanalytic Re-Evaluation, The New Library of Psychoanalysis, vol 42, London: Routledge

Vanier, A. (2001) “Some remarks on adolescence with particular reference to Winnicott and Lacan” Psychoanalytic Quarterly LXX:579-97.

 Stuart Taylor, M.D.
Chair, Symposium Planning Committee