Over and over he has heard how men’s feelings about their mothers colour the way they relate to other women. He concluded that they punish women for not providing the perfect love experienced in infancy before they had to make the psychological separation necessary to ‘learn’ to become men. Although it is male children who reject the mother and seek a man to model themselves on, they feel it the other way round. Mr Jukes explains: ‘The baby boy, without the intellectual knowledge to understand what is going on, believes the mother is rejecting him. In his eyes she stops being simply the ‘princess’, who made him feel totally and unconditionally loved, and becomes a ‘witch’, making him suffer.’
The effect of this, according to Mr Jukes’ theory, which draws on a wide range of sources from Freud and Melanie Klein to Nancy Chodorow and Dorothy Dinnerstein, is devastating. The child begins to feel that dependency and vulnerability at the hands of a woman are dangerous, and the conflict he experiences evokes fear and sadistic feelings. Mr Jukes says: ‘He has to repress those feelings, but at some level the the boy decides never again to allow a woman such power over him. I believe (that decision) is made by all men, whatever the particular form or intensity it adopts in adulthood.’
And that is the crux of it. A child whose separation is wrapped around with adequate loving and succour, and whose subsequent experiences with women are positive, will probably be able to sustain relationships.