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Abend, S.M. (1984). Sibling Love and Object Choice. Psychoanal Q., 53:425-430.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:425-430

Sibling Love and Object Choice

Sander M. Abend, M.D.

The importance of sibling rivalry and its consequences in mental life was one of the earliest discoveries of psychoanalysis. In contrast, the love ties which exist between siblings have commanded far less interest, no doubt because it was readily observed that the appearance of such material in patients' associations primarily served defensive functions. There are circumstances, however, in which the libidinal bonds between siblings come to assume a powerful and lasting significance in the development of certain individuals. I have analyzed two patients whose preferences in love partners in adult life were profoundly influenced by persistent unconscious attachments to older siblings.

The responses of colleagues during the several years which have elapsed since I first described these cases confirms that individuals of this type are not so infrequently encountered as might be imagined, although no one analyst is likely to see enough such cases to permit him to undertake a study in depth of the conditions which determine this unusual course of libidinal development. Perhaps this explains why no clinically based reports of this observation appear in the analytic literature, so far as I can determine, although it is true that actual brother-sister incest, occurring in much more disturbed individuals, has been described (Reich, 1932). I have consequently decided to present this material as a brief communication.

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