This is a paper about the difficulties we as analysts get into when we find that a patient has activated something in our unconscious which we cannot resolve in our work with them. Fordham described at the end of his life, in a number of papers, his difficulties and discomfort at not being able to resolve an impasse with one of his patients. From the conversations we had about this situation, I knew this caused them both a lot of pain. After Fordham’s death his former patient consulted me. Arising from these consultations I describe how I have understood the impasse to have arisen between Fordham and his patient. This paper links character and clinical interests, personality and impasse, developmental failures and defences of the self. It is a personal statement in which I have struggled to represent the meaning in the pain these two men suffered during their analytic engagement, which lasted more than ten years. The theme of fathers and sons was central to the problem.