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Burlingham, D.T. (1945). The Fantasy of Having a Twin. Psychoanal. St. Child, 1:205-210.

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(1945). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 1:205-210

The Fantasy of Having a Twin

Dorothy T. Burlingham

A common daydream which in spite of its frequency has received very little attention to-date is the fantasy of possessing a twin. It is a conscious fantasy, built up in the latency period as the result of disappointment by the parents in the oedipus situation, in the child's search for a partner who will give him all the attention, love and companionship he desires and who will provide an escape from loneliness and solitude.

The same emotional conditions are the basis for the so-called family romance. In that well-known daydream the child in the latency period develops fantasies of having a better, kinder and worthier family than his own, which has so bitterly disappointed and disillusioned him. The parents have been unable to gratify the child's instinctual wishes; in disappointment his love turns into hate; he now despises his family and, in revenge, turns from it. He has death-wishes against the former love-objects, and as a result feels alone and forsaken in the world. This is a situation the child cannot endure; he seeks a way out of his loneliness and finds solace in a daydream. He creates a new family in imagination and builds up a wonderful life around these new imaginary parents who fulfill the wishes (though not the crudely sexual ones) that were denied by the real parents. If these daydreams are analyzed, the resemblance of the new imaginary parents to the real ones can be recognized although they are very much disguised. Details contained in the fantasies can be traced back to experiences of an earlier period of the daydreamer's life, when the child was still happy, before emotional conflicts had disturbed him, when he felt completely secure in the possession of his parents, dependent on his mother, proud of his father, and when there was no need in his life for other consolation.

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