Louis Rothschild, "Rapprochement Between Fathers and Sons: Breakdowns, Reunions, Potentialities" (Karnac, 2023)


Today I spoke with Dr. Louis Rothschild about his new book Rapprochement Between Fathers and Sons Breakdowns, Reunions, Potentialities (Karnac, 2024). Our conversation moved freely between theory, generational attitudes, thinkers, and personal vignettes.

What is a good enough father? What is the difference between a man of achievement and a man of power? Who is the father of the mother’s mind? What happens when a father enables holding? How is masculinity valued by other men? What is meant by phrases such as a “man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do?” Why exactly do we need to “call the boy’s father?” How is the father’s role rendered invisible? These are some of the questions subsumed in the broader question of “Who nurtures and who is nurtured?” (And does the myth of the “self-made-man” indicate a man who exists without nurturing?)

“What I'm arguing”, says Rothschild, “is that that sexist dichotomy is a mirage in its own right and that attachment strings needn't be severed. They can be reworked over the lifespan and this idea of having this clean tidy break and going off to live your life where liberating the kid from this regressive maternal bond is the path to individuation, I think that's just patently false.”

Like an analyst, the book has been in formation for many years. “Percolating and distilling” as Dr. Rothschild says at the top of the interview. Motivated by the “way the culture was shifting” he sensed “that things I take for granted are actually a minority opinion.” Rothschild’s survey of sons includes mythology; Oedipus scripture; Issac. As well as the sons of literature; Sendak’s Max, Silverstein’s Boy, White’s Swan, and others. Affect rich case illustrations are also presented. The issues addressed in the book are the ones we are contending with in in analysis. They are the discussions we are having with our fathers, sons, and families. Rothschild’s book is essential and meets the clinical moment.

“Louis Rothschild’s book is both an outstanding representative of ‘return to the father’ and a unique explication of psychoanalytic thought on its own. This is a book of great literary elegance and impressive psychological wisdom.” Salman Akhtar, MD

Christopher Russell, LP is a psychoanalyst in Chelsea, Manhattan. He is a member of the faculty and supervising analyst at The Center for Modern Psychoanalytic Studies and The New York Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. His primary theorists are Sándor Ferenczi and Hyman Spotnitz.

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Christopher Russell

Christopher Russell, LP is a psychoanalyst in Chelsea, Manhattan.

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