The internalization of the "father" object among young me and its relation to separation-individuation patterns, anxiety and depression

ELIEZER Kopel, YAHAV Rivka, HEN Keren Or
Journal article citation:
Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 29(4), August 2012, pp.323-344.

A father’s influence on his offspring's personality and well-being touches upon numerous practical and ethical implications for social work, psychotherapy, and psychodiagnosis. The present study draws from Mahler’s (Mahler, Separation individuation. The selected papers of Margaret S. Mahler, 1963, 1967, 1974; Mahler et al., The psychological birth of the human infant. Symbiosis and individuation, 1975) theory of the psychological birth of the child and discusses the pivotal internal representation of the father. According to this theory, hindered developmental processes lead to depression and anxiety. 130 students took part in the current study, in which the internal father object was examined with regard to separation–individuation processes, and the levels of anxiety and depression were recorded. The study’s results show a significant negative relation between the quality of the paternal object and levels of anxiety and depression. A theoretical model was constructed to illustrate the similarities and discrepancies in the development of depression and anxiety in light of the father object as mediated by the separation–individuation processes that were examined.

Subject terms:
men, parent-child relations, young people, anxiety, depression, fathers;
Content type:
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