Fathers Who Fail: Shame and Psychopathology in the Family System

Fathers Who Fail: Shame and Psychopathology in the Family System

by Melvin R. Lansky
Pub. Date:
Taylor & Francis
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Fathers Who Fail: Shame and Psychopathology in the Family System

Despite the burgeoning literature on the role of the father in child development and on fathering as a developmental stage, surprisingly little has been written about the psychiatrically impaired father. In Fathers Who Fail, Melvin Lansky remedies this glaring lacuna in the literature. Drawing on contemporary psychoanalysis, family systems theory, and the sociology of conflict, he delineates the spectrum of psychopathological predicaments that undermine the ability of the father to be a father. Out of his sensitive integration of the intrapsychic and intrafamilial contexts of paternal failure emerges a richly textured portrait of psychiatrically impaired fathers, of fathers who fail.

Lansky's probing discussion of narcissistic equilibrium in the family system enables him to chart the natural history common to the symptomatic impulsive actions of impaired fathers. He then considers specific manifestations of paternal dysfunction within this shared framework of heightened familial conflict and the failure of intrafamilial defenses to common shame. Domestic violence, suicide, the intensification of trauma, posttraumatic nightmares, catastrophic reactions in organic brain syndrome, and the murder of a spouse are among the major "symptoms" that he explores. In each instance, Lansky carefully sketches the progression of vulnerability and turbulence from the father's personality, to the family system, and thence to the symptomatic eruption in question. In his concluding chapter, he comments tellingly on the unconscious obstacles - on the part of both patients and therapists - to treating impaired fathers. The obstacles cut across different clinical modalities, underscoring the need for multimodal responses to fathers who fail.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780881631050
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 10/28/1992
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 270
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

I: Introduction
1: Symptom,System, and Personality in Fathers Who Fail
II: General
2: The Paternal Imago
III: Defenses Against Shame: Narcissistic Equilibrium in the Family System
3: Shame in the Family Relations of the Borderline Patients
4:Blame in the Marital Triad
5: Preoccupation as a Mode of Pathologic Distance Regulation
6: The Explanation of Impulsive Action
7: The Borderline Father: Reconstructions of Young Adulthood
IV: Shame and Symptom Formation
8: The Psychiatrically Hospitalized Father libri
9: Violence, Shame, and the Family
10: Shame and Domestic Violence
11: Murder of a Spouse: A Family Systems Viewpoint
12: Shame and the Problem of Suicide: A Family Systems Perspectives
13: Escalation of Trauma in the Family of the Patient with Organic Brain Disease
14: Posttraumatic Nightmares and the Family (with Judith F. Karger)
V: Treatment Difficulties
15: Conflict and Resistance in the Treatment of Psychiatrically Hospitalized Fathers (with Ellen Simenstad)

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