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Lake, D.A. (1987). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XXXVIII, 1983: The Revival of the Sibling Experience during the Mother's Second Pregnancy. Janice Abarbanel. Pp. 353-379.. Psychoanal Q., 56:414.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XXXVIII, 1983: The Revival of the Sibling Experience during the Mother's Second Pregnancy. Janice Abarbanel. Pp. 353-379.

(1987). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 56:414

Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. XXXVIII, 1983: The Revival of the Sibling Experience during the Mother's Second Pregnancy. Janice Abarbanel. Pp. 353-379.

David A. Lake

To illustrate how a mother's own childhood sibling experience organizes her relation with her firstborn and affects her capacity to prepare the child for the change in family structure, Abarbanel compares two mothers during their second pregnancies and postpartum periods. One recalled her own intense rivalry with her sister, fourteen months older, for the limited attentions of her distant, hypochondriacal, career-preoccupied mother. She felt she and her sister were poorly differentiated in her mother's eyes, and to distinguish herself, she came to see herself chiefly in opposition to her sister. Vowing not to lose herself in her own children, she withdrew from her daughter, enrolled her in a series of distracting outside activities, and did not prepare her for the new baby. She reversed her experience with her own mother and treated her daughter as a representative of her older sister, a hated, dangerous rival. Her daughter developed a sleep disorder and became oppositional, regressed, and depressed. By contrast, the other mother had experienced reciprocal closeness with her parents and older sister. She was therefore attuned to her own daughter's reactions in anticipation of the birth. Her daughter, in close interaction with her mother, was able through play to try out for herself roles of proud big sister, pregnant mother, guardian of her own possessions, and infant. She greeted the birth of the new baby largely with pleasure. Sibling constellation in a mother's nuclear family may be powerfully recreated in her experiences with her own children.

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Article Citation

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

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