The boys’ fixation on their fathers during their developmental stage occurs between 14-18 months, during which boys enter a process of androgenization. Androgenization takes place to rid boys of the primary femininity they acquire as fetuses before their gender is determined. Gender identity may be altered when a male parent is present for the boy during this stage of development. Any child’s first relationship is with his father. Thus, his first identification is usually with a woman. For a boy to develop masculine characteristics, the identification with the mother must transfer to the identification with the father. Sometimes, aggression develops during this stage but begins to stabilize when he sees that he is the same as his father.  

Father Hunger

If the father is physically or emotionally absent, boys cannot cognitively rationalize his absence, which causes aggression to increase.  Education theorist Jean Piaget theorized that the child could develop a fear. This fear is driven by his father’s absence and directs this aggression towards the self.

These irrational, aggressive impulses manifest as monsters or other fearful objects when asleep. During sleep’s regressive and progressive sway it can cause night terrors. Since the father is the parent the child identifies with during this stage, how can he step in if absent? The male parent must effectively interrupt the child’s nightmares and aggressive impulses by spending more time with the child. We can understand the theory of father hunger in this way:  

A boy needs his father for the formation of the sense of self, the completion of separation-individuation, the consolidation of core gender identity, and the beginning modulation of libidinal and especially aggressive drives. I call the affective state which exists when these needs are not being met father hunger.

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