This piece explores the patriarchic figure into the family system as an authoritarian, restrictive and overwhelming power (within its absence or presence), controlling the mental and psychic development of the child.
In early infancy, before a coherent ego is formed, any experience that causes the child unbearable psychic pain or anxiety establishes an inner world of trauma. The traumatic experience overwhelms the usual defensive measures, known by Freud as “protective shield against stimuli”. Trauma varies from acute experiences of physical/sexual abuse to “cumulative traumas” of unmet dependency needs that mount up (Kalsched 1996, 1-2).
Experiencing a psychic trauma, the child reacts physiologically, in the same way that it would respond to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. The body is present and sets the flight or fight response into operation.
The “Freeze-Flight-Fight” response is a nervous control system act that functions largely unconsciously and regulates heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal. Trauma victims experience this response not only during the traumatic moment but, later on their lives as well, as a nervous and physical indication of anxiety. They also experience flashbacks of sensation that occur seemingly disconnected from the general behavioral context, flashbacks of memory and dissociation.
Traumatic experiences do not need to be as cruel as we might think. A child could be potentially traumatized in many different occasions.
How does the figure of the Father contribute to that?