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Abend, S.M. (1986). Chapter 6: Sibling Loss. The Reconstruction of Trauma: Its Significance in Clinical Work, 95-104.

Abend, S.M. (1986). Chapter 6: Sibling Loss. The Reconstruction of Trauma: Its Significance in Clinical Work , 95-104

Chapter 6: Sibling Loss Book Information Previous Up Next

Sander M. Abend, M.D.

There can be no disputing Dr. Rothstein's observation that the evolution of psychoanalytic theory has resulted in changing views of the impact of trauma on psychic development in general, and on pathogenesis in particular. So much is this the case that the material presented in this chapter does not lend itself to an exploration of one of the issues which Rothstein regards as fundamental; that is, the question of how we can weigh the relative significance of the actual traumatic event against the importance of the subjectively experienced, fantasy influenced elaborations of it in patients' minds. As will be demonstrated, that is in part a function of the nature of my material itself, since it differs in crucial respects from the usual examples of traumata occurring in early childhood. In two of the cases, the sibling deaths, which proved to be so important, took place when the patients were adolescents, in the third case, before the patient was born.

The approach to the subject of trauma in this chapter is shaped very much by what Rothstein has referred to in the introduction as my “organizing theory.” I am in fundamental agreement with the view expressed by his quotation from Kris (1956a) which both underlined the influence of patterns of inner life on the perception and memory of “real” events, and indicated Kris's conviction that analysis is concerned with those patterns rather than the events themselves.

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