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Siblings

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This book consists of selected texts presented at the EFPP Conference in Cracow, Poland, in October 2011. It is an attempt at finding the place of sibling relationships in psychoanalytic theory and practice. Like the Conference, it is in dialogue with the emerging interest in the role of siblings in the formation of the self - marked by the works of Juliet Mitchell, Prophecy Coles and others.The texts show not only the theory but also the practice of dealing with sibling-related problems, and their impact on psychoanalytic institutions. Practitioners share their experience of working with siblings of disabled children, cancer in the family, coping with the loss of a sibling, helping families to adapt to a new baby, dealing with fantasy and reality of murderousness towards siblings, and transgenerational transmission of trauma. Another field of interest is the specificity of transference - countertransference issues related to siblinghood. The findings of a preliminary research program on the impact of having "brothers and sisters in analysis" are cited. The editors also have an opportunity to draw from the knowledge of group analysts about sibling issues. In the search for mythological transmission the biblical stories are analysed as sources of possible insights on the nature and the working through of the powerful dynamics of sibling relationships.The range of various vantage points from which the authors describe the sibling relationship gives an overview of the recent approach to the field of siblinghood in psychoanalysis.

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Chapter One - Sibling Rivalry: Psychoanalytic Aspects and Institutional Implications

ePub

Franz Wellendorf

 

 

 

 

In the field of psychoanalysis, relatively little has been published on sibling relationships and sibling rivalry. Freud himself gave the subject only rather cursory treatment. His work in this area dealt primarily with reactions of envy and jealousy between siblings. What is the significance of the neglect of the sibling theme within psychoanalysis and what implications does this have?

The history of psychoanalysis is also a history of intense sibling rivalry. Looking back soberly on the early years of the “Wednesday Society”, the first psychoanalytical Brüderhorde (horde of brothers), Freud conceded that he had failed in “establishing among its members the friendly relations that ought to obtain between men who are all engaged upon the same difficult work” (Freud, 1914d, p. 24). He acknowledged that he had been unable to “stifle the disputes about priority” among the psychoanalytic brotherhood and that these quarrels became a source of further dissensions. Early on, attempts were made to give an institutional response to the fraternal battle and the resulting threat of division and the destruction of the substance of psychoanalysis. For Ferenczi (1911), the founding of a psychoanalytic association held the promise of a social control on “self-seeking tendencies” (p. 303). As we know, this hope went unfulfilled. Sibling rivalry is alive and well in psychoanalytical institutions today.

 

SERIES EDITOR’S PREFACE

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SERIES EDITOR’S PREFACE

Anne-Marie Schloesser

This book is about a topic that has been mostly neglected by psychoanalytic thinking, for reasons yet to be examined more profoundly.

This fact is even more surprising as the horizontal relation between sisters and brothers is, in contrast to the vertical child–parent relation, a lifelong one, accompanying us from early childhood until the last phase of life.

The contributions in this book try to fill this gap. They examine the psychodynamic meaning of the sibling relationship, the role of the sibling in the outer and the inner world, and its contribution to the formation of the self.

Powerful affects, such as love, hate, and envy, occur between siblings; we find rivalry, but also coexistence and concern for each other. What does it mean when there is a brother or a sister close in age whom one can never reach or overcome since he/she will always be older and bigger? How can a child cope with the existence of a disabled sibling, where rivalry and testing one’s own forces might be experienced as dangerous? Are siblings necessary ingredients for the development of a healthy personality?

 

CHAPTER ONE Sibling rivalry: psychoanalytic aspects and institutional implications

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CHAPTER ONE

Sibling rivalry: psychoanalytic aspects and institutional implications

Franz Wellendorf

n the field of psychoanalysis, relatively little has been published on sibling relationships and sibling rivalry. Freud himself gave the subject only rather cursory treatment. His work in this area dealt primarily with reactions of envy and jealousy between siblings. What is the significance of the neglect of the sibling theme within psychoanalysis and what implications does this have?

The history of psychoanalysis is also a history of intense sibling rivalry. Looking back soberly on the early years of the “Wednesday

Society”, the first psychoanalytical Brüderhorde (horde of brothers),

Freud conceded that he had failed in “establishing among its members the friendly relations that ought to obtain between men who are all engaged upon the same difficult work” (Freud, 1914d, p. 24).

He acknowledged that he had been unable to “stifle the disputes about priority” among the psychoanalytic brotherhood and that these quarrels became a source of further dissensions. Early on, attempts were made to give an institutional response to the fraternal battle and the resulting threat of division and the destruction of the substance of psychoanalysis. For Ferenczi (1911), the founding of a psychoanalytic association held the promise of a social control on “self-seeking tendencies” (p. 303). As we know, this hope went

 

Chapter Two - Siblings in Psychotherapy: A Report from a Preliminary Psychoanalytic Research Project

ePub

Lech Kalita and Anna Faber

 

 

 

Introduction

This chapter is a report from a preliminary research project focused on situations where an individual who undergoes psychotherapy knows other patients of her/his therapist. We have decided to use the term “therapeutic siblings” to describe this situation, both for the sake of clarity and for being based on theoretic considerations. The nature of our preliminary research is an exploratory one; our goal was to start the process of systematic organisation of observations in the area of “therapeutic siblings”.

Theoretic considerations

Why should we study “therapeutic siblings”?

Transference is one of the absolutely fundamental concepts in psychoanalysis (Joseph, 1985). Inequity of patient's and therapist's roles in analysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy (Frosh, 2006) makes transferential configurations concerning parental figures the ones that are most commonly encountered and described; one important dimension of those configurations is the fact that the parental figure belongs to a generation older than the patient. Nevertheless, we all have a great number of very early experiences, constituting the foundations of our internal world, that can be seen not only in a vertical dimension (relations with figures belonging to an older generation), but also in a horizontal dimension (relations with figures belonging to one's own generation—siblings and peers) (Joyce, 2011). According to norms in our culture, the infant and the young child usually enters the wider world of her or his peers in a more advanced phase of his childhood, while his earliest years are spent with his family: parents or their substitute (grandparents, nannies, etc.). It is in those earliest years that, alongside relations with care-takers, relations with siblings develop (in reality or in phantasy—see Joyce, 2011). Assuming that experiences connected with siblings are activated in course of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, we shall—as we always do—search for their expression in transference (Joseph, 1985). If we refer to the wide definition of transferential work, in which we consider not only those feelings that are orientated directly towards the therapist, but also all those experiences that stem from the fact of being immersed in a psychotherapeutic process, we can identify an area very vulnerable to transference experiences connected with siblings. This area would be all that is experienced due to the awareness of one's therapist's other patients (Larmo, 2007). The horizontal nature of such relations—as no patient is (or, no patient should be) more privileged than the others—is in obvious contrast with asymmetrical therapeutic relation, where one participant (therapist) is given much more power than the other (patient). Another issue that could make the “patient–therapist–other patients” constellation more similar to sibling experiences is the focus on the horizontal sibling rivalry dimension of oedipal strivings (Joyce, 2011). Thus, we understand that experiences concerning one's therapist's other patients can become a valuable source of information about one's transferential experiences and can be included in a therapeutic process to one's benefit.

 

CHAPTER TWO Siblings in psychotherapy: a report from a preliminary psychoanalytic research project

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CHAPTER TWO

Siblings in psychotherapy: a report from a preliminary psychoanalytic research project

Lech Kalita and Anna Faber

Introduction his chapter is a report from a preliminary research project focused on situations where an individual who undergoes psychotherapy knows other patients of her/his therapist. We have decided to use the term “therapeutic siblings” to describe this situation, both for the sake of clarity and for being based on theoretic considerations. The nature of our preliminary research is an exploratory one; our goal was to start the process of systematic organisation of observations in the area of “therapeutic siblings”.

T

Theoretic considerations

Why should we study “therapeutic siblings”?

Transference is one of the absolutely fundamental concepts in psychoanalysis (Joseph, 1985). Inequity of patient’s and therapist’s roles in analysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy (Frosh, 2006) makes transferential configurations concerning parental figures the ones that are most commonly encountered and described; one important

13

 

Chapter Three - Therapeutic Group—Almost like a Family: A Few Comments on Siblings

ePub

Ewa B k

 

 

 

Theoretical introduction

In his clinical works, Freud rarely referred to the meaning of experiences related to the relation with siblings. One of such examples is the case of Little Hans (Freud, 1909b), where the arrivals of siblings are one of the key factors influencing the birth of neurosis. Another example is the case of Wolf Man (Freud, 1918b), where the choice of a sexual object in the patient's adult life is understood as the reversal and transference of the early, traumatic relation with his siblings who were sexual objects, which contributed to the development of neurosis. In another text describing the dynamics of transference in the patient–doctor relation, Freud claims that this phenomenon does not need to take the form of a paternal transference, but can also be a maternal or a brotherly one: “But the transference is not tied to this particular prototype: it may also come about on the lines of the mother-imago or brother-imago” (Freud, 1912b, p. 99). By this, he admits that the relation with siblings might be of importance for the development of personality and pathology in an individual.

 

Chapter Four - The Intransience of the Sibling Bond: A Relational and Family Systems View

ePub

Michael D. Kahn

 

 

 

 

This chapter has four foundational goals. First, to counter the assumption that siblings have a negligible influence on self-development. Second, to offset the premise that siblings are inherently rivalrous. Third, to offer evidence of the biological utility of having a sibling. Fourth, to better understand the phenomenology of siblings through the analytic endeavour.

The sibling relation is usually life's longest lasting intimate relation, longer than those with friends, parents, spouses, and children, and is valued by many precisely for that fact. Predictions of the nature of one sibling's impact on the brother or sister, or the sibling group's influence on one another in their varied configurations, can usually only be best understood on an in-depth, case by case basis. The relationships are multi-dimensional, reflecting shifting self-states over important developmental time, a veritable reflection and a chiaroscuro of the self, captured in memory, possessions, rituals, photos, turning points, and varying degrees of self-coherence. Highlights and lowlights throughout childhood and adolescence of shared experience with a brother and a sister create a moving set of configurations and memories for each person. Siblings are self-objects, sometimes mirroring, merging, and twinning permanent companions and confidants, and sometimes reviled and rejected repositories of the “not-me”, the other, the disaffected and the disavowed aspects of one's own self. Pointed family reminders to be, or not be, like the other, coexist with the private and shadow world that siblings inhabit, that I call the “sibling underworld”. As such, some of one's most private and intense experiences might have been with a brother or sister.

 

CHAPTER THREE Therapeutic group—almost like a family: a few comments on siblings

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CHAPTER THREE

Therapeutic group—almost like a family: a few comments on siblings

Ewa Ba¸ k

Theoretical introduction n his clinical works, Freud rarely referred to the meaning of experiences related to the relation with siblings. One of such examples is the case of Little Hans (Freud, 1909b), where the arrivals of siblings are one of the key factors influencing the birth of neurosis.

Another example is the case of Wolf Man (Freud, 1918b), where the choice of a sexual object in the patient’s adult life is understood as the reversal and transference of the early, traumatic relation with his siblings who were sexual objects, which contributed to the development of neurosis. In another text describing the dynamics of transference in the patient–doctor relation, Freud claims that this phenomenon does not need to take the form of a paternal transference, but can also be a maternal or a brotherly one: “But the transference is not tied to this particular prototype: it may also come about on the lines of the mother-imago or brother-imago” (Freud, 1912b, p. 99). By this, he admits that the relation with siblings might be of importance for the development of personality and pathology in an individual.

 

CHAPTER FOUR The intransience of the sibling bond: a relational and family systems view

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CHAPTER FOUR

The intransience of the sibling bond: a relational and family systems view

Michael D. Kahn

his chapter has four foundational goals. First, to counter the assumption that siblings have a negligible influence on selfdevelopment. Second, to offset the premise that siblings are inherently rivalrous. Third, to offer evidence of the biological utility of having a sibling. Fourth, to better understand the phenomenology of siblings through the analytic endeavour.

The sibling relation is usually life’s longest lasting intimate relation, longer than those with friends, parents, spouses, and children, and is valued by many precisely for that fact. Predictions of the nature of one sibling’s impact on the brother or sister, or the sibling group’s influence on one another in their varied configurations, can usually only be best understood on an in-depth, case by case basis. The relationships are multi-dimensional, reflecting shifting self-states over important developmental time, a veritable reflection and a chiaroscuro of the self, captured in memory, possessions, rituals, photos, turning points, and varying degrees of self-coherence. Highlights and lowlights throughout childhood and adolescence of shared experience with a brother and a sister create a moving set of configurations and memories for each person. Siblings are self-objects, sometimes mirroring, merging, and twinning permanent companions and confidants, and sometimes

 

Chapter Five - Moses, Aaron, Miriam: Integrative Sibling Relation

ePub

Chava Yanai-Malach

 

 

 

 

The presence of siblings has an important influence on the psychic development of the individual. This issue connects to the relational theory that emphasises the transition from an authority relation between therapist and client to a more mutual relation, from a vertical relation to a relation that is conducted also on the lateral axis.

Psychoanalytic theory emphasises the parent–child relation as the main family drama. However, interestingly, storming dramas occur between siblings and enable further understanding of the formation of the human psyche. The presence of siblings enables mechanisms such as splitting, projection, and projective identification to exist on additional levels, and, through them, contributes to the growth of an integrative and mature psychological state, including shaping and establishing of self identity.

In this chapter, I argue that every individual must go through states of jealousy, competition, love, identification, and concern in the sibling relation on his or her path to integrative personality. I propose to examine the problematic sibling relation as a reflection of internal elements that remain split, as opposed to a normal relation, which indicates better personal integration.

 

Chapter Six - The Disabled Child's Siblings and Parents: Dealing with the Impact of the Birth of a Disabled Sibling: A Case Study

ePub

Marie-Ange Widdershoven

 

 

 

Introduction

During her conference discussion about “Siblings in development”, held at the London Centre for Psychotherapy in 2007, Juliet Mitchell stated: “When the mother is expecting another baby the child feels this baby as a reproduction of itself, like a narcissistic birth” (Mitchell, 2009, p. 84).

Reading this, I started to think about, and perceive in another way, my clients who grow up with a disabled sibling. How does the child feel about the birth of this sibling? Does it feel that this narcissistic birth is like a reproduction of itself, and how does it cope with it?

It has been found by a large number of authors that the birth of a disabled sibling generates a multitude of different feelings, such as rage, isolation, uncertainty, resentment, embarrassment, envy, and guilt. Anger and guilt are the most often mentioned and are found to be the most damaging (Atkins, 1991). The loss of the ideal sibling evokes feelings of guilt about being the normal child and strengthens the struggle between the life and death instincts.

 

CHAPTER FIVE Moses, Aaron, Miriam: integrative sibling relation

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CHAPTER FIVE

Moses, Aaron, Miriam: integrative sibling relation

Chava Yanai-Malach

he presence of siblings has an important influence on the psychic development of the individual. This issue connects to the relational theory that emphasises the transition from an authority relation between therapist and client to a more mutual relation, from a vertical relation to a relation that is conducted also on the lateral axis.

Psychoanalytic theory emphasises the parent–child relation as the main family drama. However, interestingly, storming dramas occur between siblings and enable further understanding of the formation of the human psyche. The presence of siblings enables mechanisms such as splitting, projection, and projective identification to exist on additional levels, and, through them, contributes to the growth of an integrative and mature psychological state, including shaping and establishing of self identity.

In this chapter, I argue that every individual must go through states of jealousy, competition, love, identification, and concern in the sibling relation on his or her path to integrative personality. I propose to examine the problematic sibling relation as a reflection of internal elements that remain split, as opposed to a normal relation, which indicates better personal integration.

 

Chapter Seven - The Disabled Child's Siblings and Parents: The Ghost Sibling

ePub

Nancy Taloumi

 

 

 

 

This chapter refers to the way the existence of a diseased child affects the psychic development of his brothers. In the case examined, the healthy child identifies with the diseased brother and in his phantasy is persecuted by him to become the same.

Identification with the sibling plays an important role in the mental development of the child. It allows the child to approach his parents and this facilitates the identification with them. The sibling functioning as the mediator of the mental identification procedures, a passage through the identifications with other objects, constitutes the basis for the mutation of further identifications for reaching out to others and to society.

Kaës (2008) argues that the sibling complex is not only a displacement for the avoidance of the Oedipus complex, and neither is it limited to the complex of the intruder, which could be its paradigmatic form. It is characterised not only by hatred, envy, and jealousy, but also includes these dimensions and many equally important others, such as love, ambivalence, and identification with the other as both one's double and different from one. The sibling complex is a transformation of the Oedipus complex. The rivalry triangle within the sibling complex differs from the oedipal triangle through the objects that comprise it (love and hate relationships among them, the emergence of jealousy, envy, and violence, and the channels that are open within the relationships, including prohibitions and their violation). The identification process that is associated with the Oedipus complex can be compared to the process of the sibling complex, whose specificity lies in the possibility of mediation and opening to other objects and other structures. The sibling relation plays a protective role in understanding the primal phantasies of sex difference and castration anxiety because the generation difference is not an issue, as it is in the relation with parents.

 

CHAPTER SIX The disabled child’s siblings and parents: dealing with the impact of the birth of a disabled sibling: a case study

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CHAPTER SIX

The disabled child’s siblings and parents: dealing with the impact of the birth of a disabled sibling: a case study

Marie-Ange Widdershoven

Introduction uring her conference discussion about “Siblings in development”, held at the London Centre for Psychotherapy in 2007,

Juliet Mitchell stated: “When the mother is expecting another baby the child feels this baby as a reproduction of itself, like a narcissistic birth” (Mitchell, 2009, p. 84).

Reading this, I started to think about, and perceive in another way, my clients who grow up with a disabled sibling. How does the child feel about the birth of this sibling? Does it feel that this narcissistic birth is like a reproduction of itself, and how does it cope with it?

It has been found by a large number of authors that the birth of a disabled sibling generates a multitude of different feelings, such as rage, isolation, uncertainty, resentment, embarrassment, envy, and guilt. Anger and guilt are the most often mentioned and are found to be the most damaging (Atkins, 1991). The loss of the ideal sibling evokes feelings of guilt about being the normal child and strengthens the struggle between the life and death instincts.

 

Chapter Eight - The Disabled Child's Siblings and Parents: Their Predicaments

ePub

Maria Papagounou

 

 

 

 

Therapists, in their clinical practice with parents of autistic and psychotic children, listen to the parents gradually unfold the story of their relation to their child. They express their difficulty in talking about this relation and even in finding ways to broach this subject. Therapists also face the various ways in which parents do, or do not, present their healthy child in the sessions.

For the child it is the words spoken by those around him about his ‘illness’ that assume importance. These words, or the absence of them, create the dimension of the lived experience in him. At the same time, it is the verbalization of a painful situation that makes it possible for him to bestow a meaning on what he is living through. (Mannoni, 1987, p. 61)

This difficulty in putting “illness” into words is not limited to the sick child, but often spreads to the healthy sibling, the parents themselves, and their social relations.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN The disabled child’s siblings and parents: the ghost sibling

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CHAPTER SEVEN

The disabled child’s siblings and parents: the ghost sibling

Nancy Taloumi

his chapter refers to the way the existence of a diseased child affects the psychic development of his brothers. In the case examined, the healthy child identifies with the diseased brother and in his phantasy is persecuted by him to become the same.

Identification with the sibling plays an important role in the mental development of the child. It allows the child to approach his parents and this facilitates the identification with them. The sibling functioning as the mediator of the mental identification procedures, a passage through the identifications with other objects, constitutes the basis for the mutation of further identifications for reaching out to others and to society.

Kaës (2008) argues that the sibling complex is not only a displacement for the avoidance of the Oedipus complex, and neither is it limited to the complex of the intruder, which could be its paradigmatic form. It is characterised not only by hatred, envy, and jealousy, but also includes these dimensions and many equally important others, such as love, ambivalence, and identification with the other as both one’s double and different from one. The sibling complex is a transformation of the Oedipus complex. The rivalry triangle within the sibling complex differs from the oedipal triangle through the

 

Chapter Nine - A Family under a Microscope: About the Influence of Family Ties through DNA

ePub

Françoise Daune

 

 

 

Introduction

Winnicott (1957) believes that life is a series of experiences of great intensity. Freud (1914c) noted that the individual finds himself divided between two necessities: to be at once himself and, at the same time, to be a link in a chain in which his will is superfluous.

These two needs have been particularly evident to me over the course of my many years working with cancer patients and their relatives. A positive diagnosis of cancer and the treatments it entails are potentially traumatic events in a patient's life. They shift the basis for identity, stir narcissism, and challenge relations to self and to others. Cancer and its treatments underline the patient's mortality—the human condition of being an end in oneself. But the patient is also a link in a chain, whether it be during the search for a bone marrow transplant donor or for the mutation gene in the case of the genetic transmission of some cancers.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT The disabled child’s siblings and parents: their predicaments

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CHAPTER EIGHT

The disabled child’s siblings and parents: their predicaments

Maria Papagounou

herapists, in their clinical practice with parents of autistic and psychotic children, listen to the parents gradually unfold the story of their relation to their child. They express their difficulty in talking about this relation and even in finding ways to broach this subject. Therapists also face the various ways in which parents do, or do not, present their healthy child in the sessions.

T

For the child it is the words spoken by those around him about his

‘illness’ that assume importance. These words, or the absence of them, create the dimension of the lived experience in him. At the same time, it is the verbalization of a painful situation that makes it possible for him to bestow a meaning on what he is living through. (Mannoni,

1987, p. 61)

This difficulty in putting “illness” into words is not limited to the sick child, but often spreads to the healthy sibling, the parents themselves, and their social relations.

 

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