James M. Herzog's Father Hunger: Explorations with Adults and Children will quickly take its place both as a landmark contribution to developmental psychology and as an enduring classic in the clinical literature of psychoanalysis. We live in an era when a great many children grow up without a father, or, worse still, with fathers who traumatically abuse them. Yet, society continues to ignore the emotional price that children pay, and often continue to pay throughout their lives, for this tragic state of affairs.
Father Hunger will change this situation. First drawn to his topic by observing the recurring nightmares of clinic-referred children of newly separated parents - nightmares in which the children's fear of their own aggression was coupled with desperate wishes for their fathers' return - Herzog went on to spend more than two decades exploring the role of the father in a variety of naturalistic settings. He discovered that the characteristically intense manner in which fathers engaged their children provided an experience of contained excitement that served as a necessary scaffolding to the children's emerging sense of self and as a potential buffer against future trauma.
A brilliant observer and remarkably gifted, caring clinician, Herzog remains true to the ambiguities and multiple leves of meaning that arise in therapeutic encounters with real people. He consistently locates his therapeutic strategies and clinical discoveries within a sophisticated observational framework, thus making his formulations about father hunger and its remediation of immediate value to scientific researchers. A model of humane psychoanalytic exploration in response to a deepening social problem, Father Hunger is a clinical document destined to raise public consciousness and help shape social policy. And in the extraordinary stories of therapeutic struggle and restoration that emerge from its pages, it is a stunning testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.
"One closes this book reluctantly, feeling inspired, challenged, and enriched by its unflinching exploration of the domain of the father's relationship with his child in the presence of the mother. We are inspired to listen more carefully to our patients, challenged to risk more of ourselves on their behalf in order to understand this unique appetite, and enriched by the time spent with this creative clinician who understands the internal experiences of children and the relationships that humanize them so incredibly well."
- Kyle D. Pruett, New England Journal of Medicine
"It has been over 20 years since James Herzog first introduced the concept of 'father hunger' to describe the heartfelt and, when frustrated, potentially excruciating longings of sons and daughters for their male parent. Father Hunger tells the remarkable stories, in exquisite detail, of the adults and children who have passed through the doors of his consulting room. A pioneer investigator, Herzog is exacting in his research, original in his thinking, and masterful in his clinical work. Father Hunger takes the readers to the center of the developing self and to a man's role, both as external caretaker and as internal presence, in eliciting and then modulating the necessary but potentially destructive aggression of his offspring. Bravo! A passionate book about primal passions, Father Hunger is a supremely psychoanalytic achievement."
- John Munder Ross, Ph.D., Author, What Men Want
"James Herzog and his patients, adults and children, offer us a deeply generous and intimate gift in this moving exploration of the far recesses of psychic derailment and repair. Father Hunger explores the fathering principle and its role in development, especially in men but also in women, both in treatment and natural settings. Using process notes and direct observation, Herzog shows how difficulties in the management of aggression derive from father hunger and then interweave with other traumatic developments in multiple ways. His capacity to find the mind of the other is in the tradition of D.W. Winnicott, but goes far beyond him. The chapter on 'Tommy and the Black Lion' constitutes a classic in its own right. We owe a great debt to Herzog and to his courageous patients for sharing a journey that we all can learn from. It would be hard to find a better book or a better teaching text for those interested in a close-up experience of how psychoanalytic therapy works."
- Susan W. Coates, Ph.D., Editor, September 11: Trauma and Human Bonds (Analytic Press, 2003)
"Herzog's work raises significant questions; meanwhile, however, one learns from and deeply admires his open and effective work with the patients in these pages, who are so profoundly affected by father hunger."
- Lynne S. Rubin, JAPA
2. Michael: No Face
3. Father Hunger and Children's Dreams
4. Michael: The Strange Nurse Dream
5. Fathering Daughters and Fathering Sons
6. Bart and Killer Walrus
7. Michael: Doing It
8. Michael: Looking for Father
9. Ali: The Mother Tongue
10. Ali: Opa and the Man Goose
11. The T Family
12. Dr. C: Trauma and Character
13. Etta: Something is Happening
14. Natalia and the Bacon Factory
15. Expectant Fatherhood
16. Tommy and the Black Lion
17. How Do Men Get into One Another?
18. Boys Who Make Babies
19. Jonah: Someone Is Being Beaten