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“I tell my mother everything, I confide in her, she knows everything about me. Yes, we often fight but then we make up, otherwise I feel guilty. With my father, however, it is different, he is distant and I have never had a deep dialogue with him. If I have a problem, a difficulty, I talk to my mother, not my father”. 

These are topics that I’ve heard hundreds of times and I think are familiar to many of you. Topics that in the case of separated parents take high frequencies almost 100%.

So I wondered why. Is it true that these fathers are all so cold and unsentimental while mothers on the contrary are all understanding and attentive?

Surely someone will tell us that it is due to a genetic predisposition, a genetic predisposition is not denied to anyone nowadays!

Let’s rewind the tape and start again from the first moments of our life. We come out of the quiet of the womb and we find ourselves in an unknown world where the presence of a human being is fundamental to confirm our fragile hope in the existence of a human besides us, thus preventing us from sinking into the terror of nothing. To be or not to be said the great Shakespeare. We spend months and months in an almost exclusive relationship with our mother, a deep, intense relationship, with no words or clear vision. We live an absolute dependence, both from the physical point of view and from the psychological one: it’s enough to have carelessness, an absence, even temporary, to make us scream in despair. Then she reappears, another feeding and we’re reassured for a while. If all goes well, if the relationship to the breast is not only material milk but is above all love, attention, interest and desire, what was a fragile hope becomes a certainty that makes the baby’s identity more and more realized. And so we come to weaning, the crucial period of human development. Now the child speaks and walks, he has self-confidence, and it is at this point that the relationship with the mother ceases to be almost exclusive and the relationship with the father becomes equally important and significant. Now the other is no longer indispensable to calm the terror of nothing but the relationship is increasingly dictated by a need for knowledge, in the broadest sense of the term. 

But if weaning fails – for a series of reasons that would be long to list – in the difficult moments of separation, this anguish resurfaces because it re-emerges that ancient fear of own’s desire for annulment that would plunge into the void. And that’s where the need for mom comes back, no matter if she’s beautiful or ugly, smart or stupid, emotional or cold.

All this inevitably produces an addiction that never resolves and therefore often generates anger but does not allow separation. At the bottom there is always that need for safeness that you cannot find inside yourself. And it is not true that there is only one mother, because there may be other figures who manage these deep anxieties and who in exchange for safety demand an endless addiction. There are in fact various “mothers” scattered around the world, who from time to time can be wife, husband, partner, friends or even those self-referential communities, who barter relief from those anxieties with belonging to this or that ideology that does not make us feel alone.

And woe to try to get out of it because then the anguish of betrayal emerges and guilt is terrible. Frequent dreams – and not only dreams – in which just because we felt attracted by a beautiful boy or a beautiful girl, we feel ungrateful, dirty and naughty for having cheated on the current mother. Panic attacks often arise from these situations.

Other mothers are so-called psychotherapists who reassure, give advice and support to patients. The summer break in psychotherapy is one of those moments in which separation skills are tested and I believe that a long break is necessary to clear the field from what could be a pathological idea of psychotherapy, which is never assistance or support, does not manage those fears but gives answers to find a more and more self-realization.

With the father it’s different, with him the relationship does not bind to early anguish and it is therefore much easier to see him for what he is and, if it’s the case, reject him and part from him. Many times it happens instead that if you overcome those early anxieties and then you come out of that deadly alliance with the mother, you recover a good relationship with the father or at least with the image of the father and there are beautiful memories of the relationship with him that emerge which had been completely erased. 

I have mentioned important issues, which deserve further study. 

But since summer is still long and excessive relaxation can cause psychological damage 😐, I leave some thoughts thrown there random:

to be able to forget without nullify, to be free without betraying, to be able to speak without repeating, to be able to think without remembering, to be able to listen without learning, to know how to love without owning, to be able to bear loneliness without losing hope…

Marco Michelini

Thanks to Chiara Fanasca for the translation of this article


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