from Reclaiming Father by Benig Mauger
The book addresses 'the father' on more than the personal level. As a
Jungian Psychotherapist, I see father as an archetypal masculine force,
which, like the archetypal femine, is present in us all, and is not gender
related. My 'animus' therefore, could be described as my inner man. He
will have been formed through my experience of my father, and to a lesser
extent by my brothers and all the males in my extended family.My image
of the masuline or the father will act as a soul model. In this respect,
the book looks in detail at the masculine spirit in women as well as men.
And since this masculine is handed down to us through our fathers, it
is necessary to look at the formative influence a father has on his children.
Today, at a time of great social and psychological unrest caused by changes in traditional male/female roles,improved communication between the sexes has assumed paramount importance. As I write, at the dawn of the new millenium, not only are increasing numbers of young men taking their own lives, fathers are in danger of becoming redundant. This may seem like a dramatic thing to say, but the facts are grim. As a direct result of the huge divorce rate, and the increase in the number of one-parent families headed by women, fathers are becoming more and more marginalised. This fact has huge implications for relationships between men and women.
In today's climate it is easy for fathers to feel devalued.Often deprived of their homes and sometimes their children,many divorced and seperated fathers take refuge in silence. Silence because there is often no place to go to express the pain and disempowerment of losing your family and your home. It is not that there are no therapeutic structures in place, it is that men by and large do not use them.Society is so structured as to make it harder for men to admit they need psychological support. Many hurt men simply draw down the shutters on life and on love.
I think that feminism has led to a corresponding need for a men's movement. Men are becoming emasculated like never before as their traditional roles and even their biological function is being questioned.With modern fertility technology,women can now have babies without the active presence of men.Although assisted reproduction has very positive aspects,I believe that unwittingly it, along with other factors,very subtly undermines the power of the masculine. It perhaps gives the impression that fathers are not important and that their formative influence on their children is negligible.
English writer and social researcher Rosaline Coward,author of many books on feminism, wonders whether in expounding the principles of feminism women were embracing a patriarchal system.She writes this because in her research she found that despite feminism, the traditional expectations of the family and the women's role within it still remain virtually unchanged. Despite the achievements of feminism and modern technological advances,there has been a widespread psychological retreat into traditional values. People by and large want the traditional things such as marriage,home and children. This being the case, it is important to distingush between masculinity or the masculine, and patriarchy. Patriarchy represents a power structure that undermines women and the feminine. Masculinity does not imply power over anyone or anything. The masculine is the complement to the feminine: both are necessary components of human life.And both need to be empowered.
We are all born with an innate expectation of being mothered and fathered, and with an inherited idea of what a mother and a father are. Psychologically speaking, all children need to regard their father as a powerful figure.However,as Jungian analyst and author Robert Bly puts it,the king is dead,meaning that children today do not inherit a powerful father image.Instead they inherit a weakened father. The king is an archetype, as aspect of the universal image of the masculine. It and other archetypal images inform us of the way we think,feel and behave. Using the imagery of the king is Bly's way of addressing every child's need to connect with the strength making qualities of the archetypal father.The king symboises our strength and our ability to fight for our needs and integrity. But, as Bly explains,the king can be killed off early on in our childhoods through dysfunctionality,traumatic circumstances,abuse and so on. Or we may have inherited a weak image of our father, or we may have lost him or not known him at all. When this happens, it means that he child's image is sacrificed in favour of a dysfunctional father and so the inner king dies in the son or daughter. If we have a negative experience of being fathered as a child,then we have greater difficulty connecting with what father represents in our psyches,usually strength and self-belief.
From the Introduction: the book is published by Soul Connections 2004
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