One area of psychology that has been often neglected in research and in counseling is the importance of relationships with siblings and how this affects other areas of one’s life and relationships. Freud did not even mention Siblings in his work as a topic of exploration, except to mention he would put his siblings on an island (p. 29). Quoted in the video below is the statistic that one third of adult siblings experience sibling strife. Safer deals specifically with the experience of having a sibling or siblings with an illness or ‘abnormality’ that was difficult and wounding for a “Normal One.” The book is very insightful and validating of that experience. However, there is also the experience of one’s own ‘abnormality’ and struggles in identifying with humanity as we all are ‘Abnormal’ and broken in some areas. In my opinion there is balance in blaming one’s siblings and family, acknowledging the wounds and healing, and seeing one’s own role in the problem. She has a lot of insight into the stigma that comes with family problems specific to sibling strife when she says, a “damaged sibling a disavowed part of self.”
Although, from the moment we are born we are little individuals with thoughts and feeling in our own right, we begin as a part of this family. Unless we are adopted, it’s the one family we get and the first place we learn, among many things, to attach to others. Adoption comes with its own wounding, even at a very young age. The wounds from our families come with their own set of stigmas and beliefs that guard our acknowledgement of them and healing. We can all admit that we can learn a lot from research of our families- for the benefit of the human race! Do not neglect your siblings! One of my cousins, once, at a family reunion while smoking a cigarette in the driveway said to me, “They should do a research study on our family. Seriously. They would learn so much!” Now, my family has a very rich heritage and fame in its line, but I do not let this get in the way of healing the wounds. We also are all so unique, not one an exact twin. This is not “Gatica,” if you remember that movie where DNA mapped out one’s life status and discrimination. Often people, out of their own wounding will deny and put up a front that there is a ‘perfect’ family. However, if you do not acknowledge the wounds they can not be healed.
If you have a sibling consider them in celebration of Siblings Day! What good memories do you have of your sibling or siblings?
Safer, Jean. The Normal One.
“There is no gene for the human spirit”