Introduction on the debate: The Paternal Function, Yesterday and Today: Analogies and Differences

Moderator: Giorgio Bambini

 Online debate among SPI members (featuring IPA colleagues) opened from September 24th, 2013 to Dicembre 31st, 2013


Dangerous pavements.
But this year I face the ice
with my father’s stick.

Séamus Heaney


The maternal function and everything that revolves around it have been in the spotlight for a long time. Nowadays, it is rather the figure of the father to be at the center of attention. In fact, there seems to be a widespread concern about the inadequacy, absence or eclipse of the father.

In the Freudian and post-Freudian thought, the paternal principle holds an important role both in a phylogenetic-social sense (the killing of the primal father as the foundation of the religious and social order) and in an ontogenetic-psychological sense (the father as the foundation of the symbolizing function and, through the Oedipus complex, of the Law). While there is a general consensus regarding the second dimension, the former appears to be undergoing an intense process of revision – and this has sparked a lively debate.

A number of facts and events has recently called our attention to the paternal function: the Sixteenth SPI National Congress dedicated to Psychic Reality and social rules (Rome, May 2012); the 73rd Congress of the French Language Psychoanalysts dedicated to Le paternel (Paris, May 2013); the increasing space devoted to this subject by the media; the discussion among the members of our mailing list regarding Massimo Recalcati’s remarks on the “evaporation of the father”.

In the wake of the success of the previous Spiweb debates moderated by Francesco Carnaroli, a new debate entitled “The paternal function yesterday and today: analogies and differences” kicks off today.  As usual, two essays will open the debate: “The paternal function: intrapsychic, relational and social factors” by Giovanni Foresti and “The paternal function” by Olga Pozzi. There are also two innovations: an English translation of the introductory essays and a section entitled “Documents”, in which texts related to the topic will be collected.

We wish to invite SPI and IPA colleagues to take part in the debate.
Happy reading!

September 24th, 2013