chapter  22
Early days: getting acquainted – unconscious identifications and gender differences
ByJoan Raphael-Leff
Pages 12

Fathers of premature or caesarean-section born babies have been found to be more deeply involved in their infants than other fathers or, sometimes, than the incapacitated mothers in the early days. However, in the usual course of events paternal attachment reactions may be delayed due to lack of close contact and opportunities for emotional exchange in the early days. Although choice of the name is often accompanied by much conscious deliberation, like the date of birth, it is often shadowed by unconscious determination. Facilitator and Regulator orientations towards mothering and bonding are usually set during pregnancy when knowledge of the fetus is minimal and the woman's unconscious fantasies are allowed free rein. Gender stereotyping begins at birth, with parents differentially attributing 'feminine' or 'masculine' qualities to their female and male babies. Nevertheless, careful research into hermaphrodites has disclosed that parental ascription of 'social' gender from birth onwards usually overrules the genetic determination.