The Telemachus ComplexParents and Children after the Decline of the Father
The Telemachus Complex
Parents and Children after the Decline of the Father
Translated by Alice Kilgarriff

Fatherhood today is in crisis. Fathers have gone missing, or have become their children’s playmates, and the symbolic authority of the father has lost its power.  For many, the decline of the traditional pater familias is no bad thing – his time has passed.  But what remains of the father today in the wake of this decline, and what should the relation between children and parents now be? 
In addressing these questions, psychoanalyst and bestselling author Massimo Recalcati draws inspiration from the story of Telemachus in Homer’s Odyssey.  The Telemachus complex is the reverse of the Oedipus complex.  Recalcati argues that children are possessed not just with a desire to annihilate their father, as their key rival in the contest to win the mother’s love, but also with a longing for a father-figure, as someone who brings meaning, structure and order to their lives and who imbues them with a sense of the future.  But this desire on the part of children needs to be reconfigured so that it can find solace in the longing, hope in the anticipation, and relief in the expectation. Whether the father arrives is less important than the children’s own journey of belief in a stable future.
This fresh and insightful account of the changing relations between parents and children in the era of the decline of the father will be of great interest to a wide general readership, as well as to students and scholars of gender studies, psychoanalysis, psychology and sociology.

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  • October 2019 (hb)
    September 2019 (pb)
  • 160 pages
  • 138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
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  • 9781509531714
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  • 9781509531721
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  • 9781509531745
Table of Contents
1. The Law of the Word and the New Hell
Praying Is No Longer Like Breathing; Aphonia and the Father’s Amnesia; The Hell of Salò; The Law of the Word; How Do We Transmit the Word of the Law?; We are A Scream in the Night; Escape From Freedom; The Fantasy of Freedom As a Hypermodern Fantasy; Mass Freedom; Dying to Work
2. The Confusion Between Generations
The Parents’ Task; The Law and the laws; Adulterations; Transgression, or an Appeal to the Law?; A New Discontent of Youth; The Trauma of the Non-Existence of the Sexual Relationship; Femicidal Violence; The Technological Object and Depression in Youth; Evaporation and Invention
3. From Oedipus to Telemachus
Four Types of Child; The Child-as-Oedipus; The Anti-Oedipal Child; The Child-as-Narcissus; The Child-as-Telemachus
4. What Does It Mean To Be A Rightful Heir?
Inheritance as Reclamation; An Excess of Memory; The Anti-Melancholy of Jesus and Nietzsche; The Negation of Symbolic Debt; Telemachus Is The Rightful Heir; What Does Inheritance Mean?; The Recognition of the Symbolic Debt; The Symbolic Difference Between Generations; Act, Faith and Promise
Epilogue: Reading Pain on the Leaves
Index of Names
About the Author
Massimo Recalcati is a psychoanalyst and author who teaches at the universities of Pavia and Verona. A bestselling author and one of Italy’s most prominent public intellectuals, he has received numerous awards for his writings on modern relationships and family life.
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