Collaboration between therapists in the simultaneous treatments of a father and son with disorders of masculine identity formation

Gary S. Stein, University of Massachusetts Medical School
C. L. Chittenden


A chronically depressed, middle-aged man with numerous intermittent psychotherapies since adolescence, sought treatment for difficulties provoked by his corrupt, former boss. Because of inadequate fathering, he had been unable to consolidate his identity as a man and a father, which inhibited the development of masculine and paternal identity in his oldest son. This patient enacted and worked through massive resistance to experiencing the idealized, paternal transference so lacking in his relationship with his own father; thereby enhancing his son's development and aiding his own separation from his mother and his wife. But this upset the family equilibrium and angered the wife, as she could no longer protect and control her husband and son, thereby enacting her transference to her alcoholic father. The psychotherapists' close collaboration helped elucidate this family's complex, interwoven psychopathology. Simultaneous treatment with collaboration thus contributed to the separation and individuation of father, mother, and son and facilitated later resolution of their oedipal conflicts.