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Anisfeld, L. Richards, A.D. (2000). The Replacement Child: Variations on a Theme in History and Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. St. Child, 55:301-318.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 55:301-318

Applied Psychoanalysis

The Replacement Child: Variations on a Theme in History and Psychoanalysis

Leon Anisfeld, D.S.W. and Arnold D. Richards, M.D.

This paper reviews the literature on the replacement child syndrome and examines its historical, theoretical, and biographical ramifications. Although a replacement child in a literal sense is one conceived to take the place of a deceased sibling, the concept may be extended to many other situations in which a child is put in the place of someone else in the family system. In his experience of survivor guilt for his deceased brother Julius, Freud may be regarded as such a metaphorical replacement child. The collective tragedy of the Holocaust gives the replacement child concept a special meaning, since the children born in its aftermath had to fill the void in the lives not only of individual parents but of the Jewish people as a whole. One of the coauthors of this paper, Leon Anisfeld, was born after World War II to parents who had lost previous spouses and children, and his personal experience as a replacement child informs the theoretical issues considered here.

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