chapter  Eight
28 Pages

The influence of sibling relationships on couple choice and development

ByElspeth Morley

This chapter contends to demonstrate the interdependence of the vertical with the lateral, while being in constant juxtaposition. It shows that it is in the unconscious choices and development of couple relationships that this staircase of alternate lateral and vertical is theoretically and clinically at its crucial interface. The chapter explores Freud’s clinical practice. Freud contemplates retreat or death, unable to proceed to the qualitative couple relationship; one which could retain its own sexual coupledom, while graduating to the next vertical step of producing a “third”, an individuated child. Juliet Mitchell argues that the microcosm of the failure to give up autonomy and to embrace the lateral sharing of siblings, real or imagined, lies at the root of the global phenomenon of human conflict in all cultures, races, and institutions. Straying out of the psychoanalytic “family” there are also important links for couple therapists with other therapies, particularly the systemic and psychosexual therapies.