Family figures in 20th-century British 'psy' discourses

Hollway, Wendy (2006). Family figures in 20th-century British 'psy' discourses. Theory and Psychology, 16(4) pp. 443–464.



This article takes the three figures child, mother-child couple and father and charts their discursive movements over the course of the 20th century in Britain, concentrating particularly on the changes happening around the time of the 1939-45 war. Over time, there is a significant shift from the individual child to the mother-child relation and the importance of fathers for children's self-development appears and disappears as a theme. A rigid construction of stages unevenly gives way to an idea of phase less amenable to a normative discourse. At any given time, there is considerable diversity within 'psy' discourses, and I focus particularly on the differences between and among psychological and psychoanalytic discourses. Certain expressions of psychoanalysis have, in my view, been more successful in theorizing subjectivity as it develops over time within the relations of the family in a way which exceeds or transcends the 'psy' complex's subjectifications and yet does not reduce personhood to an asocial essence. By locating its ontology within the practices and epistemology of psychoanalysis, I consider the conditions for this relative freedom.

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