Daddy Issues: Daddy's Girl, Mama’s Boy, Father Complex

Uploaded 4/16/2022, approx. 24 minute read

Okay, shfanpanim and shfanpanot. Shfanpanot means bunnies, like in Playboy.

And today we're going to discuss daddy issues. Daddy's girl, mama's boy, going back all the way to that ancient and wise Jew, Sigmund Freud, and his father complex.

Yes, may come as a shock to you, but men can also have daddy issues.

Today we're going to describe the whole panoply of the psychodynamics, the reasons behind the etiology, and the types of behaviors that characterize these kind of people who never had a good enough father to start with.

And just to make clear, I am not referring in this video to those sweet little things known as sugar babes, and they're looking for sugar daddies. I'm also not referring to these industrious gold diggers who mine for older men the way other people mine for Bitcoin.

So in this video, I'm not going to deal with women who target older men for their money.

There's a name for this kind of behavior and for this kind of profession, and it is far outside the remit of a channel which deals with psychology.

So today we're going to discuss with the psychological phenomenon known erroneously as daddy issues.

Now daddy issues, men use this to slut shame women. Men berate and demean and degrade women by telling them you have daddy issues. The ironyof courseis that daddy issues are much more common among men than among women.

That's not me. That's Sigmund Freud who coined the phrase father complex.

But before we go there, there's something very important to understand. It's called self-splitting.

And a proposed splitting, it's time to introduce myself to those of you who had not been traumatized by me in the near past.

My name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited. I'm also a professor of psychology. And today I am blue, in shirt, if not in mood.

The thing to remember before we proceed is a phenomenon which I describe as self-splitting.

The woman with daddy issues, the men with daddy issues, they tend to split themselves.

But just to refresh your memory, splitting is a primitive defense mechanism. It's a defense mechanism employed by toddlers and infants. And that's why we say that it's an infantile defense mechanism.

Splitting, also known as dichotomous thinking, simply means that people see the world in terms of black and white, evil versus good, or wrong or right. Dividing the world into two opposing mutually exclusive camps is splitting.

When you do the same thing to yourself, you are self-splitting.

So for example, a typical woman with a borderline personality disorder, she would tend to describe herself simultaneously as a whore and a princess, a slut and a diamond. She would then slice off the bad aspects or the self-perceived bad and shameful aspects of her personality and behaviors.

And she would say, that's not me. That's when I'm drunk. That's just a phase. That's just a passing state of mind.

At the core, I'm pure. At the core, I'm unadulterated. At the core, I'm honest and sincere.

Yes, I've cheated on all my boyfriends and husbands, but that wasn't me.

This is a process of self-splitting.

Men with daddy issues would do the same. They would say, I have high moral standards except when I'm confronted. Or I have anger issues, but except for this, I'm a swell guy. Or I usually behave this way except when I don't.

So it's like splitting yourself in two. I call it self-states. People with daddy issues have self-states.

And notice that I'm not using the word women with daddy issues, because as I've said, it's common among men even more so than among women.

Back to Freud, what else?

This guy has put his finger on every conceivable issue in psychology. It's mind-boggling. The genius of this man is mind-boggling.

He got many things wrong. And consequently, he's not being taught in the majority of universities in the West, but he got so many things right.

But one of the things he got right is what he called the father complex. Now the father complex proceeded, actually, what later came to be known as the Oedipus complex, the Oedipal complex.

The Oedipus complex is a young boy's attraction to his mother and feelings of competition with his father.

A young boy, as he matures, evolves and so on, falls in love with his mother. He develops infatuation and limerence with his own mother, the only female around. And of course, he competes for her with the only other male around, the father. And this is known as the Oedipal complex.

Now there are no studies, no experiments, and no tests that had substantiated any of this, but it kind stands to reason. It's plausible.

Freud initially focused on boys, and he said boys had daddy issues, and then he later tied it in with the Oedipal complex.

It was Jung, actually, Carl Jung, his disciple, and then his adversary. Carl Jung had suggested that girls have the same problem. He called it the electra complex.

He said that girls develop a competitive streak with their mothers. They fall in love with their fathers, and then they compete with the mother. Exactly as a boy falls in love with his mother and competes with his father, a girl falls in love with her father and competes with her mother.

And the electra complex and the Oedipus complex lead to severe problems with fathers in both cases.

In Freud's theory of psychosexual development, both the Oedipus and the electra complex arise between the ages of three and five years old, in other words, during the formative years.

And again, according to Freud, if this issue is not resolved by the end of this stage of development, by the end, by let's say age six, children become fixated on the opposite parent sex.

And according to Jung, girls do the same. So both boys and girls become fixated on the opposite sex parent and competitive and adversarial with the same sex parent.

And this is a lifelong condition, a mother fixation, a mama's boy, and a father fixation, which leads to daddy issues.

And of course, this reflects upon later life, adult relationships.

Now we do have studies, there's a small bibliography in the description to this video. Down, description is down. Thank you very much.

So there is a small cohort of studies that had shown, for example, that there is a strong correlation between promiscuity and sexual recklessness in both women and men, by the way, when the father is absent, or when the father is not good enough, we'll discuss what kind of father engenders these responses later in life, we discuss it a bit later.

But generally speaking, when the father is not there, emotionally and physically, people, both men and women, tend to develop promiscuity and sexual recklessness, feelings of inadequacy, a lack of self confidence and self esteem, and a quest to find father substitutes later in life.

Mind you, the promiscuity and sexual recklessness are more common among women, and the lack of self confidence, the quest for validation, and for substitute father figures, that's more common among men.

What do women with daddy issues, what are they looking for? What do they want?

They want care, including financial care, which is why it's very easy to confuse women with daddy issues with gold diggers or sugar babes, but gold diggers and sugar babes don't have daddy issues, they have money issues.

Women with daddy issues also seek money from older men, but they do this because it's a sign of caring, it's a sign of love.

Money is a love substitute, so if the man gives them money, he loves them, he cares for them. Protection, approval, acceptance, understanding, succor, support, validation, adoration, attention, worship, all unconditional love, this is what women are looking for in older men, women with daddy issues.

But it goes even deeper, women with daddy issues would usually use older men as a kind of reality testing. They would adhere to the way the older men views the world, and this creates cult-like situations where the older man is the cult leader and the younger woman with daddy issues is a cult follower or a cult member.

Men on the other hand, men with daddy issues, they're looking to be pampered, they're looking for safety, they're looking to regulate the sense of self-worth, they're grandiose, many of them are narcissistic, and they're also looking for conditional love.

In both genders, men and women, there's one commonality, one common denominator, what I would call a dead father, not dead, you know, quotation marks, not really dead physically.

Andre Green in 1978 coined the phrase dead mother to describe a mother who is not good enough, mother who is absent, selfish, depressive, parentifying, instrumentalizing, using, provides conditional love, love conditioned on performance, etc. This kind of absent, selfish mother is also insecure and doesn't allow the child to separate from her, to set boundaries, and to become an individual. That was a dead mother.

Similarly, I think there is a dead father. It's a father who is absent, a father who is selfish, a father who is a alcoholic, preoccupied with other things, a father who doesn't know to express emotions and love, or doesn't feel emotions and love, a father with an insecure attachment style, father who is avoidant, paranoid, dismissive, fearful, a father who is antisocial, psychopathic, or narcissistic, a father who is merely grandiose, a father who doesn't interact well socially with his own children and with other people. That would be a dead father.

And such a dead father would affect the socialization process of his children. The main socialization agents are mother in the earliest and father after age six.

Father teaches his children, both male and female, how to function in the world. Anything from gender roles, to sexual scripts, to social scripts, to proper behavior, sublimatory channels, behaving in socially acceptable ways, suppressing impulses, urges and drives, etc. This all comes from the father. He also teaches his children skills and talents, anything from playing baseball to fixing the electricity.

So the father is the conveyor, everything that society has to offer. And a father who is not good enough, does a bad job of this, he doesn't socialize his children properly.

And this gives rise to anxiety. People who are socially inept, for example, autistic people, narcissistic people, or psychopathic people, they're highly anxious.

The dead mother prevents the child from separating, setting boundaries and becoming an individual. The dead father, the father who is absent, the father who is selfish, the father who is preoccupied, this kind of father prevents the child from developing full fledged object relations and the ability to gainfully interact with other people, self-efficacy, autonomy and agency. The dead father and the dead mother create stilted, arrested development children.

Similarly, a mother or a father who are disproportionately close to the child, extremely close, who are incestuous, whether emotionally or let alone physically, this kind of fathers and mothers have the same effect, ironically.

So being too distant, being too detached, being unattached has the same effect, like being too close for comfort, breaching the child's boundaries, violating the child in every which way, especially sexually or erotically with incestuous undertones or overt incest.

This complex of dead mother and dead father shutters the core beliefs, the narratives that the children have. Children with dead fathers and dead mothers, they have the difficulty to maintain stable core beliefs about their identity.

This is called identity disturbance, about who they are, about their sense of self-worth.

Consequently, they are unable to trust other people and they feel that they are not in control of their lives and actions. They have an external locus of control.

Because they are so anxious, because they are so insecure, they develop repetition compulsions.

The children of dead fathers approach and then avoid, or they become abusive. Abuse is a way to test the resilience and veracity of a relationship.

Children of dead fathers, girls, women with daddy issues, and men with daddy issues, or mother's boys, they have insecure attachment styles. They have an impaired reality testing, but they also have what Bianca Rodriguez, the licensed marriage and family therapist, calls an impaired intimacy template.

They don't know how to do intimacy to cut a long story short. They're likely to have what I call an intimacy cloud. They're likely to spread their intimacy among dozens of people and not to get really deeply intimate with any one of them, which leadsof courseto behaviors like extra-dyadic or extramarital affairs, cheating, betrayal of all sorts, switching between partners, rapid switching, rapid cycling between partners, recycling of partners and hoovering, etc.

The intimacy cloud is very common among women with daddy issues and men with daddy issues.

Amy Rollo, which is a psychotherapist and owner of the Heights Family Counseling in Houston, Texas, says that there are three tests as to whether you suffer from these issues.

One, you are being anxious when you are not with your partner.

Two, you need lots of reassurance that the relationship is okay, repeated reassurance.

Number three, you see any negativity is a sign that the relationship is doomed. This is known as catastrophizing.

So we have a whole panoply, a whole gamut of behaviors which are actually very common in borderline personality disorder.

It is an open question whether what we call daddy issues, daddy's girl, mama's boy, whether this is not actually borderline personality disorder, a form of emotional dysregulation.

Narcissism, borderline, they may be facets of one and the same thing. We are beginning to believe, the recent research shows that overt narcissists are probably primary psychopaths and the only true form of narcissism is compensatory, what used to be called covert, fragile, shy or vulnerable narcissist.

Now the covert narcissist is not easy to distinguish or differentiate from the borderline. I have a video which deals with this.

So I think it's a safe bet to say that most women with daddy issues and many men with daddy issues are actually grandiose borderlines, either outright borderlines or covert borderlines. In other words, it's a borderline issue which involves emotional dysregulation, affect dysregulation, problems in relationships, recklessness, problems in regulating empathy and acting out, decompensation and so on and so forth. Everything that we usually describe when we discuss borderline personality disorder.

Similarly, the dynamics of the relationship of women with daddy issues resemble very much the Carpman drama triangle. The Cartman drama triangle, there's a video on this channel dedicated to it but generally speaking it involves three people. There's the abuser, the victim and the rescuer or fixer or savior.

And they interchange, they switch the roles. That's what most people and self-styled experts online don't realize. The roles are switched all the time. The victim becomes an abuser, the abuser becomes a savior, the savior becomes an abuser and the savior becomes a victim.

The Cartman drama triangle is very very fluid and very dynamic and it characterizes the relationships of women and men with daddy issues.

Again, tangential to bordering on borderline personality disorder.

When do women and men develop daddy issues? What gives rise to daddy issues? What is the etiology of daddy issues?

I've mentioned already unhealthy close bonds.

Some teenage girls will tell you that they are daddy's girl and it will tell you this proudly. This is an important determinant of their identity. You ask them who they are, I'm daddy's girl. These are favored. They've been favored. They're the princesses. Daddy took good care of them, spoiled them and bribed them.

Very often there's inappropriate behavior between daddy's girls and daddy and it could spill over into seriously unpleasant situations, even illegal situations such as incest.

But that's rare. What is much more common is an incestuous erotic overtone, parentifying the girl.

The girl becomes daddy's second wife or first wife and colludes with daddy against mommy. Mommy is the bad guy. Mommy is the cause for father's pain and hurt and depression and the girl takes it upon herself to parentify daddy or to become his spouse, his real spouse.

It's an exceedingly unhealthy dynamic, this type of close bonds.

These girls, as I said, are put on a pedestal. They're pampered, spoiled, they're worshiped, idolized, they're princesses and they feel that they resemble their daddy's the most compared to the other siblings.

These are golden girls, golden children and they're rewarded by daddy. They emulate daddy, they imitate daddy, they always agree with daddy, they support daddy, always never mind what and daddy rewards them for this. Very often with material goods.

They are also, they tend to be also physically attractive. They are treated by their daddies as a date or a romantic partner.

This leads to severe mental, emotional and sexual issues later in life. If it escalates to actual sexual abuse, it's detrimental to the woman's ability to maintain a healthy relationship, healthy adult relationship with an intimate partner of the opposite sex.

So unhealthy close bonds is the first reason for the first part of the etiology for daddy issues.

The opposite, I mentioned before, is equally true. A daddy who is not supportive, who is not attentive, who is distant and remote and detached, who doesn't pay attention, any attention to his girl, doesn't provide her with any feedback and doesn't constitute a male role model.

She would then seek attention compulsively with other men in her life, trying to make up for the attention deficit in early life.

There's no validation, no succor, no help, no holding, no containment, no hugs, no emotional expression. It's like the father has never been there, is absent, preoccupied, detached, away, selfish, self-centered.

And so the two situations, bonds which are too close, bonds which are too distant, both of them lead more or less to the same outcome, a compulsive pursuit of male attention and male gratification, especially with older males, which is a good definition of daddy issues.

Sexual abuse is the most extreme form. Young children are vulnerable, they trust their parents, they don't have appropriate boundaries, their parents, the parents are the one who should set boundaries to start with.

And so some adults cross this line. It could be a parent, a parental figure, an avuncular uncle, a neighborhood authority figure, a teacher. These are all in the child's mind, perceived as father figures.

And so sexual abuse of minors, especially by men, creates extreme emotions, dysregulated, overwhelming emotions in children, not the least of which are shame and guilt.

Children, of course, cannot blame adults for anything that happens because adults are god-like, adults are divine, adults are infallible, they never commit mistakes. Children are dependent on adults. They are dependent on adults for life, for food, for shelter. They can't afford to perceive adults in their lives as evil. It's too threatening.

Such children tend to blame themselves. They take on the responsibility for everything that happens, a divorce or sexual liaison.

Children want to love these parental or paternal, actually, figures, authority figures or real family members. They want to love them. They want to spend time with them. They want to play games with them. They want sometimes to care for them or to want to be cared for.

But the pain of the abuse, the violation of the boundaries, the fear, the disgust, they're there. They're always there. And they impair and hamper any ability to interact properly with father figures. That carries on later into adult life when these women and men are unable to interact with older men in appropriate ways.

And so they either sexualize the relationship with older men or they become defiant and reactant and contumacious. They hate authority and they attack older men or they try to imitate and emulate older men and they lose their identity altogether. They become copies or clones of selected older men.

The self-blame, the guilt, the shame, the trauma, the neglect, all these carry on into adult life.

Absentee dads, deadbeat dads, but also emotionally absent dads. Dads who are never around. Fathers who work shifts or work away. Fathers who had left the family. Drug addicts, alcoholics. Dads who are physically distant or workaholics, emotionally distant, emotionally unavailable. They leave the same wounds as well because they create an insatiable need for validation and attention later in life. Validation and attention from older men.

Women and men with daddy issues compulsively seek a substitute father later in life. Women offer sex to older men in order to gain the feeling of approval, advice, company, to somehow compensate for the lack of physical and emotional intimacy that she had craved as a child and was denied.

So there's a trade, an explicit trade-off here. Women with daddy issues offer sex almost instantaneously to older men.

They know that sex is a hook. They're going to captivate the older men, get him addicted, and then he's going to function as a father. He's going to care for the woman with daddy issues. He's going to offer money. There's a love substitute. He's going to protect her. He's going to be around all the time, adoring her and worshiping her. He's going to pay her attention. He is going to solve all her problems magically. There's magic in the air with an older man because it's a regression to early childhood and a second chance to have a father who this time might be a good enough father.

It is therefore very crucial to have the right kind of father or not at all.

And this is a point that I've made in another video on this channel when I discuss the roles of fathers. Are fathers necessary? Can fathers be good enough mothers?

If the father is an absentee father, if the father is an incestuous father, if the father is a bribing father, if the father parentifies his daughter or his son, doesn't matter, the wrong kind of father, better off without a father.

Either you have the right kind of father or no father at all. In both cases, psychodynamic, psychological outcomes are good, but if you have the wrong type of father, psychological outcomes are seriously bad.

There are many studies, and I refer to a few of them in the description. There are many studies that show that there are fewer behavioral problems in children who spend time with fathers, but the missing part is it has to be the right kind of time. It has to be quality time, and precious few fathers, if any, offer this kind of time.

If you have a father in your life and he offers you a lot of time, but it's the wrong kind of time, it's an invasive time, it's a demeaning and degrading time, it's time for criticism, it's time for control, power plays and mind games, and if it's a father who is reluctantly with you because, you know, he has to be with you, it's like a chore, this kind of father would have a detrimental effect on your personal development and growth throughout the lifespan.

There's no healthy dynamic with this kind of father. It increases negative behavioral problems.

If the father is physically abusing, which a large proportion of fathers are, that compounds the problem.

There's evidence, pretty conclusive evidence, that daddy issues can traumatize adolescents, can lead to anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal, which is mistaken for social anxiety or social shyness.

Adolescents also tend to mimic aggression and violent behavior, so an antisocial father, an aggressive criminalized or violent father, would breed the same behavioral outcomes in his son.

The daughter, on the other hand, would try to gratify such a father and inadvertently would slide into overt sexuality. She would try to use or leverage her sexuality to kind of pacify and placate a violent or aggressive father.

These dynamics are very sick. Spending a lot of time with father is not always ideal.

Quality time of the right kind with a healthy, mentally healthy dad, whose behaviors are functional and proportional, this is the key.

Father's involvement in children's development can negatively impact his children.

The sad and bad news is that most fathers are dead fathers, wrong fathers, because society had indoctrinated men.

For example, the prevailing culture tells you as a man, you should never show emotions or you should suppress certain kinds of emotions. You should never cry. You should always be strong. You should never show weakness and vulnerability. You should not pamper or spoil your children in any way, shape, or form.

So better be harsh and didactic and disciplinarian, tough love.

Societal and cultural edicts and brainwashing had rendered most men totally dysfunctional as fathers. They failed to find the balance, and so they damaged their children much more than they help them.

In this power matrix between fathers and children, the children are always disadvantaged. There's a power of symmetry. The father is stronger, more knowledgeable, has access to more resources, and can deny them to the child.

Children with daddy issues, both men and women, tend to become passive, lifelong. They adopt a victim stance, a position of victimhood in a skewed power matrix.

They even push their partners to abuse them, reactive abuse. They use projective identification to restore the comfort zone where father was all powerful, and they were meek and helpless.

When a woman with daddy issues teams up with an older man, she tries to recreate this dynamic. When a man with daddy issues obeys his boss, or admires a role model, or defies authority, he tends to recreate the same power matrix that had characterized his adolescence.

These issues carry forward. They characterize the totality of one's life.

Possessiveness, suspiciousness, jealousy, and control. These are the hallmarks of daddy issue relationships, on both sides, by the way.

The older man usually suspects the younger woman of manipulation or deceit. He regards her as a sugarbabe or a gold digger. It's in his mind. He can't get rid of this suspicion. He also assumes that she is playing the field, cheating on him.

So most older men in these dynamics become highly possessive, suspicious, constricting, and jealous. It's all about control.

The women, on the other hand, with daddy issues, who are in relationships with older men, they tend to interpret money giving and jealousy as forms of love. If he's jealous and possessive, he must be serious about me. He loves me. If he gives me money, he cares about me. He wants to protect me. He wants me to feel safe and happy.

These are, of course, extremely sick foundations for extremely sick relationships that have no future.

Separation insecurity, also known as abandonment anxiety, in men and women with daddy issues, leads to clinging, coercion, triangulation, and emotional blackmail. It is the woman with daddy issues who display codependent and borderline behaviors.

She would become needy, clinging. She would try to coerce the older men into specific behaviors, for example, giving up on his job and staying only with her, never traveling. She would try to constrict his life. She would usually triangulate with other men to get a rise out of him, to provoke him to jealousy and to reacquire or reclaim her, and she would use emotional blackmail to obtain goods and services.

This all leads to drama. Women and men with daddy issues are drama queens and kings.

In this sense, again, it's very akin to borderline personality disorder.

Drama is a tool. It's a way to avoid loneliness, facing oneself. It's a form of self-harming and self-trashing.

The older men in a relationship with either younger men or younger women, romantic or business-wise, educational, any type of relationship, the older men become weaponized. He becomes the equivalent of a razor or a cigarette, a way to self-harm, a way to self-trash.

Self-harming and self-trashing has two functions.

One, to drown out negative affectivity, to drown out pain and hurt and fear and anxiety.

When you self-harm, you have no time to focus on what you're feeling, what your emotions are, and so on.

The second function of self-harming is to feel alive.

Borderlines describe self-mutilation, cutting, for example, as a reviving experience, an experience which makes them feel alive or come alive.

And similarly, when they cut, they also don't feel the inner turmoil and tumult that they're usually exposed to when they are not self-mutilating.

Teaming up with an older man, either romantically, educationally, business-wise, as a guru, as a cult leader, you name it, any emotional investment in an older man, any cathexis in an older man, is the exact equivalent of cutting or self-mutilation.

It is not the way of nature. It is teeming up with death, impending death, as older men die sooner. It's the fact of nature. It's teeming up with death in order to feel alive.

And this need to be closer to death in order to feel alive is because in early childhood, with the wrong kind of father, the only way to feel alive was to sacrifice yourself, to deny yourself, to break your own boundaries, to cease to exist, which is a good definition of dying.

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