Neglect of Siblings

Neglect of Siblings

The Neglect of Siblings in Depth Psychology

Juliet Mitchell, Siblings: Sex and Violence, Cambridge, UK, Polity Press, 2003 Reviewed by Henry Abramovitch

Psychoanalytical theory seems to have colluded with wish to be the only child.1

Oedipus was an only child.2

Juliet Mitchell, Professor of Psychoanalysis and Gender at Cambridge University, is well known in psychoanalytic circles for her books Psychoanalysis and Feminism (1974) 3 and Women: The Longest Revolution (1984).4 She was also the Editor of The Selected Melanie Klein (2000)5 and (with Michael Parsons) of Enid Balint’s Before I was I: Psychoanalysis and the Imagination (1993).6 Her latest work documents the neglect of siblings in depth psychology. The strength of the book lies in her re-analysis of a number of well-known cases in the psychoanalytic literature. She convincingly demonstrates that significant sibling material was ignored, distorted, or reinterpreted as part of vertical, mother-child dynamics. One of the most shocking omissions concerns a case presented by Enid Balint, which mentions but then entirely ignores the fact that the patient was sexually abused by her brother over a period of six years. Mitchell documents similar neglect in the works of analysts Freud, Klein, Bion, Winnicott, and Herbert Rosenfeld, as well as in the work of Simone de Beauvoir.

Given that brothers and sisters are so fundamental to human experience, their neglect in depth psychology is surprising. I suspect that the most important reason for the neglect of siblings in Western societies is the tacit expectation of early sibling separation. As Charles Nuckolls, an anthropologist who studied village culture in South India, has written, “Siblings in an Euro-American context are culturally expected to leave home and separate for life. Important decisions about economics and social life are expected to be made along with one’s parents, spouse, friends, or work associates, but not primarily with one’s siblings.”7He reported that Western indifference to sibling relationships is nothing less than extraordinary to his Indian informants. South Asian villagers frequently inquire about the siblings of their visitors and typically express shock when confronted with answers like “I don’t know.” Or “I haven’t seen my brother/sister for years.”8 I suspect that a depth psychology of brothers and sisters will emerge not from the sibling-deprived West, but from the sibling-centered Third World.

A Birth Order Bias

Mitchell’s main concern is with psychoanalytic theory (although she does mention Jung once). She does not discuss how the sibling experience of the founders of depth psychology may have influenced their theory, and I believe this is a serious omission. Both Freud and Jung were successful, secure firstborns who were relatively unconcerned with either their own siblings or sibling issues, in general. Their theories reflect this birth order bias. Freud was the beloved first born of his mother. He wrote that, “a man who has been the indisputable favorite of his mother, keeps for life the feeling of being a conqueror, that confidence of success which often induces real success.”9 He did have many brothers and sisters but the ‘First Freud’ received very special treatment. He was the only child to have his own room and lamp. When he complained that his sister’s piano playing distracted him from his studies, his mother had the piano removed. Not surprisingly, he interpreted the dream image of rodents as intrusive presence of unwanted younger siblings.10

Sigmund, as a very young child, was greatly influenced by the birth and sudden death of his infant brother, Jules. Jules was born when his older brother was 17 months, and he died when Sigmund was not quite two years old.11 It is very possible that this brief sibling relationship may even have played a formative role in the development of Freud’s psychoanalytic theories. Writing to a confidant, Freud confessed: “I welcomed…my younger brother (who died within a few months) with ill wishes and real infantile jealousies…his death left the germ of guilt in me.”12 His lifelong concern with guilty feeling may have its origins in his own guilty feelings as a sibling survivor.13 Strangely, Freud himself ignored the importance of being a sibling survivor in some of his best known case histories, such as “Dora” and “The Wolfman.” The “Wolfman” in his autobiography claimed that his depression was triggered, not by witnessing a primal scene (as Freud had argued), but by the suicide of his sister, with whom he had formed “a very deep, personal, inner relationship” and considered his “only companion.”14

Jung, in contrast, was an only child for his first nine years until his sister was born. She never did play much of an active role in his life. Jung wrote: “At bottom she was always a stranger to me, but I had great respect for her.”15 Jung’s experience seems typical of siblings born more than seven or eight years apart, which might represent the psychological limit of sibling kinship libido. Siblings growing up too far apart do not go through developmental phases together, nor do they share core emotional experiences. They often grow up as “sibling-strangers.” Jung and his sister did have a strongly polarized identity. Writing in his autobiography, Jung notes: “…my sister, [had] a delicate and rather sickly nature, in every respect different from me…I was rather emotional, whereas she was always composed, though very sensitive deep down.”16 This relationship may well have contributed to his thinking concerning the nature of different psychological types.

Nonetheless, Jung, like Freud, did have a strong emotional reaction to the birth of his sister, an experience for which he was totally unprepared:

My father brought me to my mother’s bedside, and when she held out a little creature that looked dreadfully disappointing: a red, shrunken face like an old man’s, the eyes closed, and probably as blind as a young puppy, I thought. On its back the thing had a few single long red hairs which were shown to me—had it been intended for a monkey? I was shocked and did not know what to feel…The sudden appearance of my sister left me with a vague sense of distrust .…17

The birth of a younger sibling raised feelings in Jung that he may have never fully understood. Jung’s sister, “as though born to live the life of a spinster,”18 never married but lived with their mother. Unmarried siblings often are fated to look after aging parents. Jung’s sister did not survive an apparently harmless operation, and he “was deeply impressed” when he discovered how “she had put all her affairs in order beforehand, down to the last detail.”19

I believe that the birth order bias of Freud and Jung may also have influenced psychodynamic theory itself. Freud’s theory of the “family romance” is very much the story of a firstborn child in the most nuclear of families. Some of the most famous clinical case studies of children, for example, Freud’s “Little Hans,”20 Axline’s “Dibs: In Search of Self,”21 and, as we shall see, Donald Winnicott’s “The Piggle,”22 are all case studies about the psychology of the firstborn child.

No Room in the Theory for Anyone Else

Mitchell does not provide a theoretical perspective on why siblings have been so neglected in psychoanalytic theory, but I suspect it may have to do with the increasing importance of the mother-infant interaction. Starting with Jung, psychoanalytic theory turned away from Freud’s concern with Father and the Oedipal triangle and gave increasing emphasis to Mother. This trend was further developed by the important contributions of Melanie Klein, Margaret Mahler, Donald Winnicott, Ronald Fairbairn, Michael Fordham, Thomas Ogden, Erik Erikson, and many others. Each emphasized how early mother-infant interaction was the critical phase for psychological development. Within their theoretical formulations, whether of the “facilitating environment” (Winnicott), “maternal symbiosis” (Mahler), “de-integration process” (Fordham), sense of “Basic Trust versus Mistrust” (Erikson), or the schizoid (Fairbairn), paranoid and depressive (Klein) or “autistic-continguous” (Ogden) positions, there is simply no place for siblings. Siblings, therefore, had no representation in psychic reality. They were psychologically absent, at least, in theory.

Theories serve not only as models of the workings of the psyche but also as maps which point out what is important to notice: what is essential and what is incidental; what is signal and what is noise. As a result, even the best of theories has an unconscious bias to exclude data that lie outside its framework. One theory’s chaff is another theory’s wheat. As a result, case histories regularly fail to report sibling status altogether. When they do note a birth order, they lack theory that specifies how brothers and sisters may play a role in the life of the psyche.

Mitchell discusses Donald Winnicott’s account of the psychoanalytic treatment of a little girl, Gabrielle, known as “The Piggle.” This case deals with the emotional shock of a toddler over the birth of a younger sister. After over a year-and-a-half of treatment, the mother wrote to Winnicott saying: “My anxieties were very intense at the time of [the sister] Susan’s birth–I forgot whether I told you that I have a brother, whom I greatly resented, who was born when I was exactly the same age as Gabrielle was when Susan was born.”23 Winnicott had neglected to ask the mother if she had any siblings, although it is now widely thought that parents may unconsciously recapitulate their own troubled sibling experience with their own children. Winnicott makes no comment on the mother’s dramatic revelation, nor does the revelation influence the treatment. Winnicott is widely regarded as one of the most seminal thinkers, yet he seems to have no way of thinking about siblings, even when the Piggle insists on being called by her younger sister’s name. In retrospect, it seems that Susan likely played the role of the Piggle’s “shadow sibling.” A shadow sibling receives the projection of all that is unwanted or unacceptable in oneself and is both envied and hated for having those very qualities. A shadow sibling is, therefore, the opposite of the ideal sibling, a compensatory negative and unconscious figure. These shadow figures may exert an intense but hidden impact on the relations with an actual brother/sister, when they are not differentiated from the real one. Elsewhere, Winnicott did note how the birth of a younger sibling may provide an older child with an opportunity to experience how sibling hate can be transformed, in time, into sibling love. This seems certainly true of the Piggle, Gabrielle, whose mother wrote towards the end of treatment:

Gabrielle is very close to Susan, handles her with great circumspection, cajoles her, is often the mediator between her and us. We are struck by how often she will try and get her way by deflecting Susan’s attention or by some inventiveness, rather than by direct attack, though sometimes she is miserably, and helplessly consumed by jealousy, and Susan can no nothing right. The other day, in the middle of a fierce fight, she suddenly kissed Susan and said: “But I like you.” This is very different from Susan, who alternately looks up to Gabrielle fervently and ruthlessly wants to destroy her superiority.24

Research suggests that Gabrielle’s experience is rather typical.25 Within Winnicott’s perspective, nevertheless, unconscious sibling dynamics between brothers and sisters are absent.

Mitchell is most convincing in her discussion of the work of Melanie Klein, which she knows so well. She shows that missed sibling dynamics pervade Klein’s most famous case studies: Gunther and Franz (1926)26, Erna (1932)27 and Richard of Narrative of a Child Analysis (1961).28 Mitchell concludes, “Melanie Klein’s work is a fascinating instance of the repression of siblings from observation and theory.”29 Unconscious sibling dynamics may also lie at the heart of Klien’s work; she was the youngest of four children. Klein’s biographer, Phyllis Grosskurth, quotes her as saying, “I was very keen to get some attention and to be more important than the older ones.”30 Klein viewed envy, which lies at the heart of her theory, as innate, arising spontaneously in the infant from birth in response to the maternal breast. Grosskurth, however, suggests that envy embodied her own experience as a powerless baby sister. Later as an adult, she claims Melanie envied her sister Emilie, “for seeming to have the fulfilled emotional life that she herself craved, as well as, —in the face of all her troubles—a certain serenity….”30 On the other hand, Melanie had an exceptionally close relationship with her brother Emmanuel, whom she called “the best friend I ever had.” Grosskurth concludes: “Brother and sister, were twin souls, sharing the same sorts of moods and reactions. He was her surrogate father, close companion, phantom-lover—and no one was able to replace him.”31 This idealized relationship may have been further complicated by Emmanuel’s early death, just when Klein was on the verge of adulthood and married life at twenty-one. The impact of this relationship, I suspect, may be found in her view that childhood sexual relations between children, especially brothers and sisters, often has “a favourable influence upon the child’s object relations and capacity to love.”32 I wonder whether Klein’s unconscious feelings toward her own siblings played a hidden, but significant, role in her theory as they did in her life.

Jung understood the psychological importance of brother and sister archetypes. In Answer to Job, he wrote:

Yahweh had one good son and the one who was a failure. Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, correspond to this prototype, and so, in all ages and in all parts of the world, does the motif of the hostile brothers, which in innumerable modern variants still causes dissension in modern families and keeps the psychotherapist busy.33

Emma Jung gave two, lost lectures on “the brother motif” to the Psychology Club in Zurich.34 With only a few exceptions, Jungians however, have not followed up this lead.35 Von Franz, Edinger, and other Jungians view sibling dynamics as subjective intra-psychic symbols of individuation and have little to say about real siblings or their unconscious representation. This neglect of siblings is all the more surprising since Jungian psychology takes much of its inspiration from mythology and fairy tales where sibling stories abound. For example, in Grimm’s fairy tales, the youngest son who at first appears to be the despised simpleton emerges as the victorious hero 92% of the time.36 He is interpreted symbolically as representing the undervalued, inferior aspect of the personality. Edward Edinger, author of The Bible and the Psyche: Individuation Symbolism in the Old Testament, writes that the twins Jacob and Esau represent the division with the psyche between “ego and shadow and ego and Self.”37 Siblings in dreams and fantasy are likewise understood as symbols of different parts of the personality, typically anima, animus, or the shadow.

One place where siblings are beginning to find their place is in clinical psychiatry. DSM-IV added the new diagnostic category of “Sibling Relational Problem”38 to indicate a growing awareness of the importance of siblings in mental health. A negative relation with a sibling may set down a lifelong pattern of troubled relationships, as explained in a widely used textbook of psychiatry:

Problems arising from sibling rivalry can occur with the birth of a child and can recur when the children grow up. Competition among children for the attention, affection, and esteem of their parents is a fact of family life. That rivalry can extend to others who are not siblings and remains a factor in normal and abnormal competitiveness throughout life. In some families, children receive labels early in life, such as “the good child” or “the black sheep,” and may turn those labels into self-fulfilling prophecies. In good sibling relationships the pleasures of companionship and the bonds created by kinship and shared experience outweigh feelings of rivalry.39

The persistent, positive role of siblings is supported by current research that shows how siblings function to protect each other, especially early and later in life. Think how Hansel and Gretel provide each other with a profound sense of security when lost in the forest; and how they work together to kill the “witch” and find their way home. A positive relation with a sibling, for example, is one of the key indicators of successful aging and longevity. In contrast, “To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old.”40 Sibling order may even play a crucial order in marriage.41 Growing up, we typically spend more time with our brothers and sisters than we do with our parents, and our relationship with them usually lasts longer. In an age of divorce, mobility, and alienation, it has been argued that the sibling bond is often the only one that really lasts.42

The limitations of Mitchell’s work are noteworthy. Her database is somewhat thin, including classic papers in the psychoanalytic literature, one case of her own, and a few seemingly, random observations. For example, she makes much of seeing babies crying as she waits for her flight in a Bombay airport. She recalls a family story of being left as an infant by her mother who went off to teach a class in botany and gather rare plants. But these recollections do not seem especially apt or illuminating. Much of the book itself has nothing to do with siblings but is focused on the subject of her previous works on hysteria, gender issues, and intricacies, if not minutiae of psychoanalytic theorizing. In fact, overall, one learns little about brothers and sisters themselves or how they may be represented in the unconscious. Indeed, her subtitle, Sex and Violence, drawn from classical drive theory reveals how traditional her concerns really are.

When she uses ethnographic material, she appears out of her depth. For example, she mentions that ancient Egyptian royalty practiced brother-sister marriage, but she adds incorrectly that the practice was widespread in that culture. She does, however, miss the archetypal dimension of such royal incest. As a cultural fantasy, there is a profound sense of intimacy that comes from combining origin and eros, in the body of single, familiar person. “The Song of Songs” gives expression to this unique yearning: “Ah, why are you not my brother, nursed at my mother’s breast!” and “My sister, my promised bride, you ravish my heart. ”43 The archetypal image of brother/sister-lover so central to ancient Egyptian love poetry, gives symbolic expression of this “inner marriage” with the ideal sibling. It is vital, however, to distinguish between brother-sister incest as a romantic fantasy and brother-sister incest as sexual abuse.

Mitchell does mention the importance of sibling transference and counter-transference. In one telling example, Mitchell reveals how Melanie Klein’s patient Richard drew a fish and called it by the name of his older brother, who was away in uniform during World War II. Richard then quickly covered up his brother-feeling by saying the fish was Mrs. Klein. Klein was successfully distracted from the brother to herself. The evidence was there, but she failed to see the sibling wound. I have often met colleagues who had successful analyses, but who remain with painful sibling wounds. In the absence of theory to guide us, we do not attend to what we are not trained to find. In The Primitive Edge of Experience, Thomas Ogden presented a clinical illustration of a twenty-three-year-old female graduate student who had a brother toward whom she felt was like “just another tenant in the boarding house.”44 This patient related to Ogden in a similar fashion, and yet, surprisingly, he never conceptualized her lack of emotional connection to him in terms of a sibling transference. Moreover, he confessed that he “would often forget that the patient had a brother.” Imagine an analyst forgetting that the patient had a mother! Ogden seems unaware of both her sibling transference and his own sibling counter-transference.

In my clinical work, I have often been surprised by omission of details about siblings, especially when patients discuss other therapies they have had, or when colleagues talk about their own case material. As one woman explained, “I wanted to talk to my analyst about a problem I had with my brother. But he insisted that the real issue was my sexual fantasies about my parents.”45 Another woman told me that the one time she consulted a therapist, “we never discussed my being a twin or my problematic relationship with this twin and yet … being a twin has had an impact on all the other relationships in my life and is the central point to explore in working out any unresolved conflicts.”46 Clearly, these analysts appear not to have worked on their own sibling material. But I suspect that the origin of such dramatic neglect derives from an institutional bias against sibling conflicts. Candidates often develop a strong loyalty to the theoretical orientation of their teachers and supervisors. In an unconscious effort to find favor with our analysts and supervisors, we may focus on what will please them, even on occasion at the expense of our analysands.

Comparative Resources

Mitchell’s work does not stand alone. It is part of a growing literature noting the importance of siblings in psychic life, psychotherapy and analysis. Such studies come from a wide variety of theoretical backgrounds, sadly none of them Jungians. Here are seven resources I found helpful. Bank and Kahn’s The Sibling Bond was the first book to review systematically the psychodynamic literature about siblings, to examine Freud as a sibling, and to put forth a typology of attachment patterns between brothers and sisters.47 It is well written and full of clinical examples, and it remains an excellent starting point. Kahn went on to co-author a collection of essays, Siblings in Therapy: Life Span and Clinical Issues, which deals more specifically with clinical practice.48 The main disadvantage is the lack of a coherent theoretical focus, but this is more than made up by the great diversity of clinical material. For example, I was very struck by how one “business therapist” specialized in dealing with the emotional problems found in family firms. Volkan Vamik49 is well known for his work on mourning, linking objects, political psychology, and a fascinating account of a psychoanalysis (which I reviewed in this journal50). He has co-authored a book on unconscious sibling fantasies.51 I found this book annoying at times, since it is rooted in dogmatic, classical drive theory with a strong emphasis on psychopathology and reductive analysis. Nevertheless, Vamik is helpful about preverbal fantasies, such as, how womb fantasies can be connected to murderous rage, especially but not exclusively in twins. Two volumes of The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child were devoted to siblings.52 Finally, Prophecy Coles (2003) begins The Importance of Sibling Relationships in Psychoanalysis with the account of an insight into a bitter sister transference between her and a difficult analysand, which allowed for a therapeutic breakthrough.53 She goes on to review the work of Freud and Klein, some literary siblings, but she also discusses the importance of positive sibling transference and Oedipal sibling triangles.

Most recently Leon Anisfeld and Arnold D. Richards wrote about “The Replacement Child: Variations on a Theme of History and Psychoanalysis.”54 A replacement child is born soon after the death of another child, but before that child has been adequately mourned. In a real sense, the replacement child takes its place and represents an attempt to fill the void. Their parents’ unresolved grief is folded into the replacement child, who may then suffer from an inner emptiness and a confused sense of identity. I am delighted that a recent graduate of Jung Institute in Zurich, K. Schellinski, did her thesis on the replacement child.55

Beyond Only Children

Mitchell’s book is something of a call to arms. Sibling dynamics could become a driving force toward new clinical theory and practice, as feminism, abuse, and trauma continue to be. How do sexual abuse, gender, and individuation look when seen from the sibling point of view? Becoming aware of the importance of siblings in the psychological lives of our patients, we will begin to pay more attention to sibling status and sibling transferences. Analysts will regularly report birth order of their analysands as well as examine how their own birth order might impact on the quality of the analytical relationship. Theoreticians can begin to better conceptualize how brothers and sisters are uniquely represented in the unconscious. The interplay between “inner siblings” and “outer siblings,” both personal and archetypal, is another area worthy of further exploration. I am particularly interested in how only children have fantasy siblings or more tragically, how individuals mourn the loss of a brother and sister, both early and late in the life cycle. Training institutes will become better adept at understanding the sibling dynamics, both positive and negative, among their trainees. The bitter history of relationships between competing schools of depth psychology, whether Jungians and Freudians, or Developmental and Archetypal Jungians, I have often felt resembles a family fight between brothers and sisters, quarrelling over their inheritance. On the positive side, nothing symbolizes an ideal relationship more than the telling phrase, “She is like a sister,” or “He is like a brother.” Brothers and sisters play an important role in social life, in archetypal imagery, as metaphors, and undoubtedly in the collective unconscious. It may be time for Jungians to return to our roots and rediscover brothers and sisters.


1Prophecy Coles, The Importance of Sibling Relationships in Psychoanalysis, London, Karnac, 2003, 1.

2 Louis Stewart, The Changemakers: A Jungian Perspective on Sibling Position and Family Atmosphere, London: Routledge, 1992, 17.

3 New York, Basic Books, 1984/2000.

4 New York, Random House, 1984.

5 London, Penguin, 1987/2000.

6 London, Free Association Books, 1993.

7 Charles W. Nuckolls (Ed.), Siblings in South Asia: Brothers and Sisters in Cultural Context, NY and London: Guilford Press, 1993, 4.

8 Nuckolls, Siblings, 31.

9 S. Freud, “The History of an Infantile Neurosis” (1918), Standard Edition, Vol. 17, 156. Freud was firstborn for his mother but not for his father who had married twice prior to his marriage with Sigmund’s mother. There were two adult sons from father’s first marriage living nearby. One of these half-brothers played an important role in an early memory of the future inventor of psychoanalysis:

I was crying my heart out, because my mother was nowhere to be found. My brother Philip…opened a cupboard for me, and when I found my mother was not there either I cried still more, until she came round the door, looking slim and beautiful. What can that mean? Why should my brother open the cupboard for me when I knew my mother was not inside it and that opening it, therefore, could not quiet me? Now I suddenly understand. I must have begged him to open the cupboard. When I could not find my mother, I feared she must have vanished, like my nurse not long before. I must have heard that the old woman had been locked, or rather ‘boxed’ up. (P.C. Vitz, Sigmund Freud’s Christian Unconscious, New York, Guilford Press, 1988, 22).

10 Ernest Jones, Sigmund Freud: A Life and Work, Vol. 1, London, Hogarth Press, 1953, 17-18.

11 S. Freud , “Some Introductory lectures on Psycho-analysis,” (1916-17), Standard Edition, Vols. 15-16, 153. Seven months after his baby brother Julius died on 15 March 1858, a baby sister, Anna was born (31 December 1858). At the same time, Sigmund’s beloved nanny (Resi) “turned out to be a thief.” Freud’s half-brother Philip “went himself to fetch the policeman, and she got ten months.” (Vitz, 114). The unconscious association of the loss of the nanny and the birth of a sister likely influenced his emotional attitude to the many closely spaced siblings that followed, altogether eight over a period of only ten years. (Stewart, 123-7). For a fuller discussion of Freud’s relation to his siblings, see Bank and Kahn, The Sibling Bond, New York, Basic Books, 1982.

12 S. Freud, The Origins of Psychoanalysis: Letters to Wilhelm Fleiss, Drafts and Notes 1897-1902 (Eds. M. Bonaparte, A. Freud, and E. Kris), New York, Basic Books, 1959, 219.

13 In “Totem and Taboo” (Standard Edition, Vol. 13), Freud did discuss a “just so” storin which the joint murder of an authoritarian patriarch brings about the unity of brothers. This “fantasy” generated much controversy but had little or no clinical impact. Robert Paul (Moses and Civilization: The Meaning Behind Freud’s Myth, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1996) provides an updated if apologetic discussion of “Totem and Taboo.” He argues that Freud’s primal horde most resembles a gorilla family, in which one dominant male controls a harem of females, while unattached males wait their chance to displace him.

14 The Wolf-Man (Pseud.), “Recollections of My Childhood,” in M. Gardiner (Ed.), The Wolf-Man, New York, Basic Books, 1971, 3-21. Other cases in which Freud mentions but underestimates the significance of siblings include “Dora” and “Little Hans.”(See endnote 20). Elsewhere he does note that a sibling is often a person’s first love object, e.g. “Psychoanalysis has taught us that a boy’s earliest choice of objects for his love is incestuous and that those objects are forbidden ones–his mother and his sister.” (Coles, quoting Freud 1916-17, 17). This certainly seems true for the “Wolfman,” whose symptoms began after his sister and he engaged in various sexual activities, including her holding his penis while telling stories, as well as her tormenting him with a picture of the wolf. Following Freud’s example, most psychoanalysts have tended to see sibling love as a defense against Oedipal feelings.

15 C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, New York, Random House, 1963, 25.

16 Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 25.

17 Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 25.

18 Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 112.

19 Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 112.

20 “Little Hans,” in: Sigmund Freud, The Pelican Freud Library, Volume 8, Case Histories I, Middlesex and New York, Penguin Books, 1909/1977, 167-305.

21 Virginia M. Axline, Dibs: In Search of Self, New York, Ballantine Books, 1973.

22 D. W. Winnicott, The Piggle: An Account of the Psychoanalytic Treatment of a Little Girl, London, Hogarth Press, 1978.

23 Winnicott, The Piggle, 161.

24 Winnicott, The Piggle, 177.

25 See especially the work of Judy Dunn and her associates: J. Dunn, C. Kendrick, and R. MacNamee, “The reaction of first-born children to the birth of a sibling: mothers’ reports,” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 1981, 22, 1-18; J. Dunn and C. Kendrick, Siblings: Love, Envy and Understanding, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1982; Judy Dunn, Sisters and Brothers: The Developing Child, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1985; and J. Dunn, “Psychology of Sibling Relations,” in: N. J. Smelser and P. B. Baltes (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, , Oxford, Pergamon, 2001, 14063-14066.

26 In: Melanie Klein, Love, Guilt and Reparation : And Other Works 1921-1945 (The Writings of Melanie Klein, Volume 1), London, Free Press, 2002.

27 In: Klein, Love, Guilt and Reparation.

28 London, Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1961.

29 Siblings, 114.

30 P. Grosskurth, Melanie Klein: Her Work and Her World, London, Maresfield Library, 1985, 13.

30 Grosskurth, Melanie Klein, 62.

31 Grosskurth, Melanie Klein, 39.

32 M. Klein, “The sexual activities of children” (1932), in The Writings of Melanie Klein Vols. 1-4, London, Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1975, 118-9.

33 C. G. Jung, CW 11, ¶629.

34 Personal Communication, Emmanuel Kennedy, 2004.

35 Stewart produced a study of how birth order position affects styles of political leadership and described his reaction to the birth of his only sibling, born when he was six-and-a-half. His recollection of the birth has the quality of a “flashbulb memory:”

On the day my brother was brought home from the hospital I was wearing my red bandana around my neck, had my toy pistol on my belt and my uncle’s marine hate on my head. My mother and father came into the room. My father (himself a first born) was carrying the baby. In a jovial voice he said, “This is your brother; see, he has no chin, he looks like a fish!” I could only agree with my father…for many years after the fateful day of my brother’s birth, I did my best to ignore and neglect him.

Stewart, as if taking up the cue from his father, apparently tried to continue to live as an only child. Not surprisingly, he recalls a dramatic experience during his early teenage years that touched a deep chord, when he came across a novel in which the hero calls out in bitter irony, “Am I my brother’s keeper!” After college, their relationship changed dramatically and evolved into “a lifelong friendship and collaboration in our closely related fields” (Stewart, Changemakers, ix). Presumably being away from the family system and the negative sibling attitude of his father allowed him to redefine the relationship. Stewart does not discuss how this sibling dynamic may have influenced his work as a clinician.

Mario Jacoby does discuss the distinction between an outer and an inner sister in connection with a dream (Mario Jacoby, The Analytic Encounter, Toronto, Inner City Books, 1984). John Beebe, a Jungian analyst in San Francisco, writes about his archetypal sibling counter-transference as a “transference brother, a fellow sufferer enjoying a respite from the arduousness of adulthood, and a model for the animus that will relate to some creative aspect of her personhood…experiencing the Self …[as] an ‘organ of acceptance.’” See: J. Beebe, “The Case of Joan: A Classical Perspective,” in: The Cambridge Companion to Jung, P. Young-Eisendrath and T. Dawson (Eds.), Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997, 196.

36 See: B. Sutton-Smith, and B.G. Rosenberg, The Sibling, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970. Sutton-Smith and Rosenberg, in this pioneering textbook, developed a shorthand notation for indicating the place of a sibling within the overall birth and gender order. Moses, as the third child, following an eldest sister and middle brother would be represented as: FMM3. The birth order is listed by the number, the gender by letter. The scheme, however, has not really caught on. There is no widely accepted way of describing sibling sequence and birth order.

37 Edward Edinger, Ego and Archetype, London, Penguin, 1986, 36.

38 A diagnosis of “Sibling Relational Disorder” is given “when the focus of clinical attention is a pattern of interaction between siblings associated with clinically significant impairment in individual or family functioning or symptoms in one or more of the siblings.” (H.I. Kaplan and B.J. Sadock, Synopsis of Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, Baltimore, Wilkins and Williams, 1997, 346.) The comparable but more restrictive category in the International Classification of Disease, 10th version (ICD-10) is “Sibling Rivalry Disorder.”

39 Kaplan and Sadock, Synopsis, 346.

40 Yann Martel, The Life of Pi, Toronto, Random House, 2001, 141.

41 Toman reported that the best marriages were between individuals of different birth orders, especially if they had siblings of the opposite sex, e.g., older brother with younger sisters marrying a younger sister with older brothers or vice versa. Higher rates of marital discord and divorce were found when marriage partners had the same birth order or had no siblings of the opposite sex. The marriages of two only children were particularly prone to difficulties. See: Walter Toman, Family Constellations: Its Effect on Personality and Social Behavior, New York, Springer, 1976.

42 Bank, S. and Kahn, M.D. The Sibling Bond, New York, Basic Books, 1982.

43 “Song of Songs”, 8:1 and 4:9, Jerusalem Bible.

44 Northvale, NJ, Jason Aronson, 1989, 95.

45 Francine Klagsburn, Mixed Feelings: Love, Hate, Rivalry, and Reconciliation Among Brothers and Sisters, New York, Bantam Books, 1992, xii.

46 Personal Communication, Rosalie Siegel, 2003.

47 S. Bank and M.D. Kahn, The Sibling Bond, New York, Basic Books, 1982.

48 M.D. Kahn and K.G. Lewis, Siblings in Therapy: Life Span and Clinical Issues, New York, Norton, 1988.

49 V.D. Volkan and G. Ast, Siblings in the Unconscious and Psychopathology: Womb Fantasies, Claustrophobia, Fear of Pregnancy, Murderous Rage, Animal Symbolism, Christmas and Easter “Neuroses”, and Twinnings or Identifications with Brothers and Sisters, Madison, CT, International Universities Press, 1997.

50 Henry Abramovitch, “Pyschoanalysis Observed,” The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal, 1990, 9 (4), 23-38.

51 Volkan and Ast, 1997.

52 L. Ainsfeld and A. Richards, (Eds.), The Replacement Child: Variations on a Theme of History and Psychoanalysis, in The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Vol. 55, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 2000. See also The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, Vol. 38, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1983, especially the article by A. B. Colonna and L.M. Newman entitled “The Psychoanalytic Literature of Siblings,” 285-309.

53 Coles, Importance, 2003.

54 in: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2000.

55 K. Schellinski, “Oh, Brother”: A Jungian Perspective on the Challenges and Opportunities Faced by a Replacement Child, Diploma Thesis, C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich, 2002. She presented her findings at the 2004 IAAP congress in Barcelona.

Abstract: This review of Juliet Mitchell's Siblings: Sex and Violence documents the neglect of siblings in depth psychology and discusses how sibling material was missed or actively avoided in many of the classical cases in the literature. The reviewer discusses how the firstborn founders of psychoanalysis may have had an unconscious birth order bias which may have directly influenced their theories since psychic life is typically described from the perspective of an eldest or only child. The review discusses a growing literature which stresses the importance of the sibling bond in psychotherapy, within the transference as well as for understanding unique aspects of sibling life, such as the "replacement child", or shadow siblings. The importance of dealing with sibling material within analysis is emphasized.

Keywords: siblings, sisters, brothers, psychoanalysis, transference-countertransference, birth order