Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Fatherless families, Fathers and sons, Adult children, Qualitative research, Father, Father absent, Mirroring, Emptiness, Negative


This is an empirical, psychoanalytic inquiry designed to uncover what exists in the space for "father" when men grow up father absent. I interviewed 10 father absent men to find out how they conceptualized their personal representations of father and whether the conjured images played a material role in their lives. In light of the interviews, I contend that, regardless of circumstance, intrapsychic space exists for father. Building on Green (2004), I argue that father absent men have a combination of positive and negative space for father. Positive space is filled principally with directly experienced memories, and stories as recounted by others, particularly the mother, who is often a decisive figure in shaping the discourse on father. Positive space is filled with father mirroring memories, memories of tactile, mimetic experiences that serve as signposts for worldly engagement. Positive space is also filled by symbolic fathers, people and systems, who father feelings are displaced onto. Negative father space is empty. It is that which is not seen, symbolized, or mirrored by the father. Negative space is full, however, to the extent that negative space is recreated in the gaps of living, gaps particularly in arenas of fathering and loving




iii, 93 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 84-89)

Limited Access until August 2020