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Engel, G.L. (1975). The Death of a Twin: Mourning and Anniversary Reactions. Fragments of 10 Years of Self-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:23-40.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:23-40

The Death of a Twin: Mourning and Anniversary Reactions. Fragments of 10 Years of Self-Analysis

George L. Engel

Whether out of diffidence or awe few analysts have followed the example of Freud and reported on their own self-analysis either as process or as a source of data (Kramer, 1959); (Ticho, 1967). This paper is such a contribution. It concerns the self-analysis of anniversary dreams and parapraxes which occurred over the 10-year period following the sudden and unexpected death of the author's identical twin brother (1963–73) and as he approached and lived through his own 58th year (10 December 1971 to 9 December 1972), the age of his father at the time of his sudden death in 1928. Particular attention is devoted to the striking instances in which dreams or symptomatic behaviour occurred on anniversaries of which the author was unaware at the time but recognized later. Opportunity is also taken to discuss the psychoanalytic literature on twins in the light of the author's personal experience as a twin, particularly the unique aspects of the object relationships and of the mourning processes following the death of one twin.

An important motivation for the study was the writer's long-standing interest in the relationship between anniversaries, the giving up–given up complex and the onset or exacerbation of illness (Schmale, 1958), (1972); (Engel & Schmale, 1967). These touch on the concepts of the timelessness of the unconscious (Freud, 1915), the unconscious sense of time and mechanisms whereby anniversaries reactivate old repressed and unresolved conflicts (Hilgard, 1953); (Pollock, 1970), (1971a), (1971b), (1972); (Mintz, 1971).

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