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The impact of fathers on development underestimated

May 5, 2009

The tendency in seeking the root of adult psychological disturbance has been to look further and further back into the individual’s developmental history.  For instance, Freud initially emphasised the role of the father in the initiation and eventual resolution of the Oedipal complex at around age 3; whereas the second wave  of psychoanalysis, the followers of Melanie Klein, stressed the earlier years when the mother taditionally played a greater, almost exclusive, role.  Several studies have sought to focus attention on the role of fathers:

Children whose fathers have mental health disorders are likely to have psychiatric or behavioural disorders themselves, researchers warn.

University of Oxford experts reviewed existing evidence and said, in the Lancet, there had been too much focus on mothers’ mental health issues.

They said boys in particular could be affected if their father had depression or was an alcoholic.

Mental health campaigners said men often had problems seeking help.

The Oxford team said it was not surprising much of researchers’ emphasis had focused on mothers as, in most societies, it is mothers who provide the majority of childcare – particularly when children are very young.

But they said the role of men had been “underemphasised” and that they had more influence on their children’s development than previously thought.

via BBC Health

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