Friday, October 26, 2012

Daddy Issues

FLG has a long-standing theory that ambitious men are, with few exceptions, the offspring of abusive or absent fathers.    While this is true of men in a variety of fields (athletics, business, etc), FLG maintains that is particularly true of political leaders going back even to Alexander.  Julius Caesar's father died when he was 15.  George Washington's father died when he was 11.  Thomas Jefferson's father died when he was in his teens.   Churchill longed for a relationship with his absent father.  Joe Kennedy was no picnic. Stalin's father was abusive.  Ditto for Mao's.  The list goes on...

Anyway, the other day FLG came across this article, which delves into the paternal relationships of recent presidents.  FLG is half tempted to really sit down and write a book about this theory.


Andrew Stevens said...

Eh. There are a great many people who had absent or abusive fathers. The further you go back in history, the more common the condition is. If, as this article does, you include relationships such as that between George W. Bush and his father, you're starting to come very close to describing everybody's relationship with their father. Speaking, by the way, as someone who clearly qualifies as having had an absent father.

By the way, I too am curious to hear your answer to Withywindle's question in your last post.

FLG said...


Obviously, one doesn't always follow the other. Lots of people with absent or abusive fathers become self-destructive, not hyperambitious. And, yes, one can frame this in a way that almost all men fall into the category, especially as one goes back in history, but there is something there.

Fitting W into the mold is a problem for me, as is Romney. Nevertheless, there's definitely something to this theory that I want to investigate furhter if I ever get the time.

Andrew Stevens said...

And lots more become what they almost certainly would have become had their fathers not been absent or abusive. I confess I'm fairly hostile to the Freudian notion that everything in one's life traces to one's parents. Not that they're unimportant, but as far as I can tell from the actual evidence (admittedly extremely subject to interpretation) their importance is normally exaggerated by a factor of about a hundred.

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