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Lake, D.A. (1987). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XXXVIII, 1983: Development-Promoting Aspects of the Sibling Experience: Vicarious Mastery. Sally Provence and Albert J. Solnit. Pp. 337-351.. Psychoanal Q., 56:413-414.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XXXVIII, 1983: Development-Promoting Aspects of the Sibling Experience: Vicarious Mastery. Sally Provence and Albert J. Solnit. Pp. 337-351.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:413-414

Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XXXVIII, 1983: Development-Promoting Aspects of the Sibling Experience: Vicarious Mastery. Sally Provence and Albert J. Solnit. Pp. 337-351.

David A. Lake

The authors propose that the sibling relationship offers the child a potentially rich opportunity for experiencing social exchange and solution of interpersonal conflicts. They illustrate this with the example of the development of a four-and-a-half-year-old boy and his two-and-a-half-year-old sister. The older child initially viewed the new baby as one who takes away what he values, but he gradually moderated his aggression. The authors show how this came about. He gradually identified with his parents as caretakers and through a process of expanding empathy

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(and projective identification) became an expert on what the baby needed. When the older child ridiculed, scolded, and pushed his sister, he was regressing and experiencing castration anxiety. For the younger child, on the other hand, a sibling was a part of the given environment. The authors trace her attachment to her brother, her fascination with him, and her vigorous attempts to imitate him. Ambivalent tendencies evolved in association with her envy of his bodily skills, penis, and toys, all of which she actively tried to possess for herself. When her brother began school, she displayed a marked separation reaction. Where there are relatively unambivalent parent-child relationships, the sibling experience of developmental closeness enhances empathic communication and vicarious experiencing of the other; practice mastery and the development of a community of interests further self-definition and confidence in the strength of self and family.

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Article Citation

Lake, D.A. (1987). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XXXVIII, 1983. Psychoanal. Q., 56:413-414

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