by Benjamin Fry
I read an article in The Times today and wondered what it must be like for fathers to be separated from their children and why is it often so painful and so difficult?
One of the things that we all do as parents with our children, and that we’ve all experienced from our parents as children, is a process called ‘projective identification’. Broadly speaking this means that a parent is able to live out his or her life through the life of their child and take benign vicarious pleasure from the success of nurturing their child’s life.
In this way the child becomes the container for everything that the parent is unable to express in him or herself directly. This can cause problems for the child if too much is required to be contained. In this case though, when the child is separated from the parent it can cause overwhelming distress in the parent as all the issues the parent can’t cope with gradually come home without anywhere else to contain them.
On top of the normal very difficult circumstances of a parent missing a child, there can be additionally overwhelming psychiatric pressures which can result in bizarre or extreme acts or behaviour such as in this case.
Benjamin Fry works across a range of services and media using personal, professional and scientific expertise to help people to a baggage-free life. A published author, and a past columnist for The Times and Psychologies magazine, Benjamin is a social activist in mental health. He founded Get Stable in 2010 to get effective treatment paid for by the state and his great passion is to bring treatment, which works, to all levels of society and across all severities of conditions.
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