The absent Father Effect on Daughters, Father Desire, Father Wounds

The presence of father absence is harmful personally, relationally and culturally. Absence brings lack yet is a space to be filled for new relationships to emerge…

This is a love story, but an unrequited one. It is about the needs a daughter has for a father figure, made more prominent and painful when he is absent. A daughter is left to cope in countless ways with the difficulties encountered when her father is not there. The presence of the father’s absence affects a daughter’s body, mind and soul. I contend it is this presence of absence that is most harmful. Additionally, absence is accentuated because it implies a space to be filled and the need to attend to the lack. Absence is also significantly a call for the potential of the positive to emerge. For the many reasons detailed throughout this book, the father is an important aspect of the psyche and significant for development of a daughter’s psychological and physical life expressed personally and culturally. ‘The father is decisive in the destiny of the individual’ (Jung, 1961, ¶303).

The book includes perspectives of French psychoanalysts Andre green on The dead father Effect and Julia Kristeva on the body and abject as well as a chapter on Sylvia Plath and her passionate poem, ‘Daddy’.

Editorial Reviews


‘Truly something new and original on the daughter-father connection. Schwartz explains how and why daughters remain enmeshed with fathers whom, for whatever reason, have been less than good-enough. There is no demonization; rather, an exquisite compassion shines through. Whilst she writes as a clinician – and a really good one, as her account of working with dreams shows – Schwartz offers something that, by definition really, applies to every woman and the majority of men who will read it.’ – Andrew Samuels, author of The Plural Psyche: Personality, Morality and the Father and editor of The Father: Contemporary Jungian Perspectives

‘How do you have an incest fantasy about someone who isn’t there; or if they are, they terrify? How do you mourn the loss of someone you never knew, of a relationship you never had? Drawing on her life’s work as a clinician, the author deftly goes to the heart of trauma in the father-daughter relationship: showing how connecting to the archetypal father and collective experience a healing can begin.’ – Dale Mathers, Jungian analyst, UK

‘Susan Schwartz has written a much-needed book about fathers and daughters, one that addresses the psychic damage of the “emotionally absent and deadened father”, which “affects a daughter’s body, mind and soul”. With compassion, wisdom and a Jungian theoretical and clinical understanding of the psyche, Schwartz places this psychological dilemma in a wider context of psychoanalysis and the depth psychologies. Her clinical examples are apt and her passionate encouragement for us to understand this issue is inspiring.’ – Margaret Klenck, MDiv, LP, Jungian analyst and past president of the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association, New York, USA

About the Author

Susan E. Schwartz is a Jungian analyst and clinical psychologist in Arizona, USA. As a member of the International Association of Analytical Psychology she has taught and presented at conferences and workshops in the United States and worldwide. She has several articles and book chapters on these aspects of Jungian psychology. Her website is