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Agger, E.M. (1988). Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Sibling Relationships. Psychoanal. Inq., 8(1):3-30.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 8(1):3-30

Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Sibling Relationships

Eloise Moore Agger, D.S.W.

Much has been written about the significance of parental figures in early human development. Interactions with the primary maternal object are thought to determine the child's progress along the separation-individuation continuum, the establishment of object constancy, and the emergence of a coherent sense of self. The mother-child dyad does not, however, exist within a void; fathers and siblings represent significant variables which affect maternal attitudes and behavior on both conscious and unconscious levels. Infant/child observation research tells us that the child's sensory perceptions of siblings can occur almost as early and with as much frequency as those of the maternal object. While the mother is usually the first love object and the immediate source for identification and early learning, the existence of actual siblings as well as internal sibling representations within the mother's psyche exert a sizeable effect upon the child's ego development. This may occur even before the father's presence is recognized as an accountable force.

In addition to preexisting siblings who form the context into which a child is born and will adapt, the subsequent births of siblings threaten family equilibrium and require further ongoing assessment and adaptation by the individual ego.

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