Ivan Berezin

The Death and Resurrection of The Father

"The father dies twice, the second time is when he passes away, the first time is when you discover he doesn't have all the answers." I wasn't able to find the source of my quote, but I'm sure it's a paraphrase from Freud's Totem and Taboo or some writings by Carl Jung. When we are children, our father is God. Symbolically speaking, this means that our dad is the authority figure, the one who takes care of us, gives us orders, and helps us grow. However, this relationship goes beyond the symbolic and also exists on a functional level. One of Piaget's great observations is how children believe that their parents' word is a universal law. If you were taught to leave the door open at home, whenever you see a closed door, you will go and open it. In fact, Piaget observes that communication (different from language) in children develops when there are disagreements between how one kid sees these laws or perceives their reality and how another kid sees his laws and perceives his reality. One day, when you were at a friend's house and saw them close the door to their room, you raised and opened it, after that they will raise and close the door, and you will open it again, eventually you will start fighting about it, that's when you will learn that there is substantial information in what the other person is saying.

I explained all of this so that you can understand the phrase with which I started the essay. "The father dies twice, the second time is when he passes away, the first time is when you discover he doesn't have all the answers." If you read the previous essay (if you haven't, you can find it here), you may remember what we said about traumatic events, it is one that creates a discrepancy between how we thought reality was and how it actually is. The symbolic death of the father is a traumatic event. It possibly has the same effects on us as the Death of God, which Nietszche writes about.

As children, our father's word is law. We follow all their orders, and these orders keep us safe. If Dad tells us something, we do it. If we have a problem, we go to Dad and ask for help. We also ask Dad many questions. "Dad, what is the color of sound? How many angels can fit on the head of a pin? When will we have the technology to make a camel pass through that same needle? What is love? Do camels feel love? Do needles feel love?" Well, these may not be exactly the questions a child would ask, but you get my point. Dad will do his best to answer us, and many times he will give us good but insufficient answers ("needles don't feel love because they don't have feelings since they don't have a brain," to which you will respond, "why?" ad infinitum), sometimes he will give us bad but sufficient answers ("just because"), and sometimes he will give us answers that are simply wrong ("we will have the technology to pass camels through needleheads next year."). Regardless of what Father says, we will take it as a sacred revelation and it will shape us as individuals. Our mistakes, our beliefs, our values, and our virtues will largely come from what Dad tells us and how he behaves.

Eventually time will pass and we will grow up. We become taller, and stronger, but we can also become more critical, rebellious, and arrogant. You start to notice your father's flaws. There are days when he comes home exhausted from work and goes straight to bed, ignoring both your mother and you. There are days when something irritates him, he raises his voice, and loses his composure. There are days when you ask him for help with the computer and it turns out that not only he can't help you, but a week later it's him asking you for help to solve the same problem.

You are not the only one growing up. The world is also growing. The walls of Eden fall, and you are forced to enter a world full of snakes and trees of knowledge. You go to school, and learn a lot from your classmates and teachers, as well as from older kids whom you see as guides, idols, and leaders. You almost have a traumatic experience per day. Under the right conditions, nothing you can't handle, but undoubtedly you undergo a significant change. In the transition from naivety to maturity, you become a victim of inexplicable hormonal and physical changes, there is a restructuring of the brain, and you are capable of learning and absorbing more from the world around you, particularly if you have access to books, television, the internet, or other tribes (other kids, other families, other schools). Eventually you will learn things that are so traumatic they will actually compromise your place as a child. This could be learning about Sex. The realization that the act which was necessary to bring you into the world, was one  where your father goes from being a benevolent figure to one who destroyed the purity of your mother (Oedipus complex), and your relationship with your parents completely changes. Just like Noboru (read the previous essay), you develop disgust, anger, and distance from your parents, and you start spending more time with your friends and other people. You become increasingly critical of your parents until one day you lose all respect for them, their authority dies, new knowledge has killed your father. This has made you break one of the Ten Commandments. Things can't end well now.

Now you don't know who to turn to when you have a problem, you think you can handle things on your own, but most likely you can't. That's why group mentality and tribalism are more present in teenagers; they are trying to forge an identity and discover a new model of good and evil outside your home.

As far as I know, this is the symbolic end of the Father figure for Freud and Jung. I want to offer an alternative, the resurrection of the father. As long as we hold anger toward our father and as long as the groups and identities that replaced him are sufficient for us, the resurrection of the father will not be possible. This event will also be more difficult if the anger is mutual and your father also makes an effort to distance himself. However, it is possible that there is no anger on the father's part and he understands this stage of rebellion and distance as something normal in teenagers. It is also possible that one day you will realize that these groups do not provide you with the security or direction that your father did, that they lead you down a path with more snakes than cherubs. The use of drugs, intoxicants, disinterest in school or traditional values is common. One day there will be more harm than joy, and if you're lucky, there will be a reintroduction of the father. You will seek his help, ask for advice, or maybe he will see you sad at home and come talk to you. You will feel skeptical. He has already shown you that he doesn't have all the answers, but you will also have a little faith. No one has made you feel as secure and has made as much effort for your well-being as him. Besides, there is another factor you never took into account. These last 20 years were not only a period of growth and maturity for you. Your father has also lived 20 more years and has had many opportunities to grow, learn, and mature, in certain ways much faster than you due to the responsibility of having people who depend on him.

When you talk to your dad, you will feel surprised. He can actually help you. He has gone through the same situations as you, and he also had to figure out how to fix them (if he was lucky, also with the help of his father). Slowly, you start to value your father again, to honor him as God demands of you. You start eating together as a family more often. You also get along better with your mother. You understand that sex is natural and doesn't make her a bad person. The snakes are scared away, you reduce your consumption of alcohol, drugs, and emotional escapes. And you start seeking the best for yourself. Love, responsibility, health, harmony. The resurrection of your father also means the resurrection of your values. You are ready to have a life mission and work for it.

Remember that I am here to help you. If you have realized that you are in a toxic and dangerous situation, and this article has inspired you to improve your life and seek help, I am here to assist you. Simply send me a message or register on the coaching website to schedule a free video call to get to know each other and we’ll figure out how I can be of service to you.

I hope you have learned something new,

Ivan Berezin.

Let's figure out the meaning of life through the teachings of literature, psychology and philosophy.

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