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Morley, E. (2013). The Sibling Relationship—A Force for Growth and Conflict, by Joyce Edward, Jason Aronson, 2011.. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 3(1):108-111.

(2013). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 3(1):108-111

The Sibling Relationship—A Force for Growth and Conflict, by Joyce Edward, Jason Aronson, 2011.

Review by:
Elspeth Morley, M.A.

In her introduction to her excellent well-researched book on siblings, the New York psychoanalytic psychotherapist and clinical social worker, Joyce Edward, tells us that between 1920 and 1980 there were fewer than 150 articles on the hitherto extraordinarily neglected topic of siblings listed by PsychInfo (the US database of psychological literature). The stream of articles and books on the subject then accelerated until, between 2000 and 2010, there were over 5000 listed by that database, of which more than 800 were from the American Psychoanalytic Association. So she can conclude that we no longer have to assert that writing psychoanalytically about siblings is as if invading theoretically virgin territory.

Psychoanalytic studies of siblings in the UK have also increased in number, if not as prolifically as their American counterparts. However, it may be important to recognise that the continued interplay, theoretically and clinically, of American psychoanalysis with psychotherapy, psychology, and social work, in all of which Edward is herself highly qualified and experienced, enables her to write a book about siblings which is refreshingly free from the need to justify itself in its adherence to orthodox psychoanalytic (Freudian) theory. (This contrasts with the British psychoanalyst Juliet Mitchell's Siblings (2003), brilliant and groundbreaking a book as it may be, which determinedly maintains the universality of Freud's oedipal complex on the “vertical” parent/child relationship, which Mitchell proposes can be juxtaposed with the equally universal “trauma” of recognising the existence of siblings (or peers) on the “horizontal” relationship plane.

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