In the Name of the Father
Saturday 5 October 2019 - Ireland
A one-day conference with Dermot Bolger, Andrew Samuels, Ross Skelton, and Brendan Staunton SJ
The theme of this day is, in part, inspired by Sigmund Freud’s observation that the death of the father is the most significant moment in a man’s life. This must surely be true for many, but Freud’s concept of the Oedipus complex is now considered problematic. Written in a time and place radically different from contemporary Ireland, his view of the boy’s emerging sexual identity within the traditional family now requires a fresh theoretical framework to explain the many meanings of fatherhood today, and the developmental task of becoming a man.READ MORE...
This is a vast topic, but this one day series of talks we will touch on some of our speakers’ fascinating experiences of fathers and insights into the role. And we are inviting our audience of psychotherapists to think freshly about new types of fathers and the identities that men are now expected to occupy, many of which are ambiguous, shifting and contradictory. How does the contemporary father, caught in a multiplicity of roles, position himself in relation to society, his children, his own father, or even priest? Do boys still struggle to draw the mother’s love away from the ‘potent father’ and take his place? How does the boy come to identify or dis-identify with the father, both as a symbol of power but also manifestation of uncertainty? Where are men now located within the terms of patriarchy, authority and power, in terms of presence and absence? These are bold questions, but we hope to open up the beginnings of a meaningful conversation about this important domain of life and the consulting room.
Registration and coffee
Brendan Staunton SJ
The Family of Philip IV
This presentation will explore the concept of ‘Fathers’ via the use of a particular painting, Diego Velasquez’s Las Meninas. This work will serve as the medium to explicate how the role of the ‘Father’ is behind many an enigmatic question. The painting, originally entitled The Family of Philip IV, has been the basis of extensive academic commentary and provides an innovative vantage point to examine themes such as family dynamics, patriarchy and power.
The Father’s Body
The figure of ‘the father’ is still a little mysterious, despite the work of several therapists and analysts, including Andrew. We know a lot about the abusive damage a father can do to sons and daughters – but less about what the presence of a good-enough father provides. Avoiding idealisation, Andrew will root his talk in explorations of the strong embodied dynamics between father and daughter, and between father and son. But he also wants to show that an absent father is not a recipe for instant emotional disaster, and that families headed by one or by two women should not be viewed suspiciously by clinicians.
Adapting Ulysses: The Father and Son in Irish Literature
The playwright Dermot Bolger will reflect on his own personal experiences of being a father and a son. He will explore how public perception of those roles has changed in Ireland within his life and examine how these complex relationships have been explored within Irish writing, drawing both on his own work and on his experience of adapting James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses, for the stage.
Professor Ross Skelton
Edge of Eden
Winnicott famously remarked that there is “no such thing as a baby”. In this paper Ross Skelton will suggest that “there is no such thing as a father” in the sense that the child not only sees father as an independent person but also as ‘father’ as mirrored by ‘mother’. Skelton will share portions of Eden Halt, and material from an as yet unpublished new memoir, to consider the impact of a childhood marked initially by an absent father and subsequently by one who, as a result of his own trauma in World War II, became a violent presence in the home. Skelton will further consider his underestimation of the significance of the appearance of this new person who “came back from the war” on his whole life.