Sibling differentiation, identity development, and the lateral dimension of psychic life
Last week in UK politics some commentators remarked how “brotherly love took a backseat to a lust for power” as the Miliband brothers competed against each other for the position of Labour party leader. Shortly after Ed took the crown David announced his decision to quit front bench politics. This competition has prompted observations regarding the dynamics of their relationship and inevitably their sibling rivalry.
From the time of Freud onward, the mainstream psychoanalytical view of sibling rivalry is that both are inherent to the human condition and infused with parental dynamics. This article examines sibling differentiation and identity development, recognizing how a child amplifies differences with siblings to reduce rivalry with them. Our relationship with siblings is structured around a particular psychic challenge: to find one’s unique place in a world of similar others.