The Internalization of the "Father" Object Among Young Men and Its Relation to Separation-Individuation Patterns, Anxiety and Depression

Kopel Eliezer, Rivka Yahav, Keren Or Hen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While the father's influence on his offspring's personalities and well-being has historically been neglected, literature on this topic has recently been accumulating. The father's influence is 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 offers a novel focus on 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.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)323-344
Number of pages22
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Father
  • Object-relations
  • Separation-individuation

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences

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