Friday, August 12, 2011

Freud the narcissist - and his siblings

Now here things get intersting:

Here is an interesting article on siblings, with Freud as an example on unconscious feeling's towards one's siblings.
The role of siblings in mental life may have first been underemphasized by Freud, who may have had his own reasons for such downplaying. For example, Freud as a child had a private bedroom filled with books while all of his siblings lived together in one other, crowded room.
 And in another place:
As noted by the authors, the index of the complete standard edition of Freud's works has no reference to sibling (although Siberia is referenced).

Freud had five sisters and one brother. He was the eldest, in his view (and his mothers) the first in every way in that family. He wrote about sibling rivalry from the point of view of jealousy,  and said "The elder child ill-treats the younger maligns him and robs him of his toys; while the younger is consumed with impotent rage against the elder, envies and fears him. " (see link)

This depiction of brothers and sisters has no room for love, mutual support  or even family feeling. As usual, Freud is taking his own experience and assuming that this is the general experience of humanity at large. He appears to be unable to see that all families are not like his: that is is very unusual to be treated as a "golden child" by your mother and separated from your siblings as extraordinary and worthy of special treatment. He experienced no sense of guilt or unfairness that his six siblings must share a room while he had his own space: he had an inbuilt sense of entitlement - that this particular parental devotion came to him as his right, and he just received it without demur.  A sense of entitlement is a sign of narcissism.

Now Freud was born in a caul, which means the amniotic sac remained over his face at birth.   Caulbearers were at that time - and still are- considered to have special gifts, which of course served in to increase his stature within the family.  He was highly intelligent, probably gifted, and top of his class at school for many years.

Freud would satisfy many of the criteria for narcissism. He claimed that all children are narcissistic  at first. Maybe so, but some of them learn eventually that they are not the most important person in the world.  Others don't and take their egotism to the grave.

Freud was also a healer, with special gifts of healing, and he made a difference to the world. It would be easy to find evidence that he was a womb twin survivor, many of whom become effective healers. The main clue that he had an identical twin is that when his father died he experienced a great personal crisis and began to look inside himself and carry out a self analysis. 

This from TIME magazine: 
Freud was a man unusually preoccupied with death. His concern stemmed partly from the painful heart attacks he suffered when he was still in his 30s. The ailment, never definitively diagnosed, was the cause of continuing anxiety. Indeed, Psychoanalyst Ernest Jones, Freud's most authoritative biographer, thought that the symptoms themselves were due to "anxiety hysteria," while Schur believed that Freud may actually have had a coronary thrombosis. Freud was also profoundly affected by the deaths in his own family, beginning with that of his brother Julius when Freud was only 19 months old. When his daughter Sophie died, he spoke of "the monstrous fact of children dying before their parents." On the death of Sophie's son at the age of four, he mourned: "Everything has lost its meaning for me."
Oedipal Conflict. Yet to Freud, a father's death was always "the most important event, the most poignant loss, of a man's life." His own father died when Freud was 40. The complexity of his grief was related to his work at that period: just after his father's last illness, Freud became aware of the Oedipal conflict and the "ambivalence in man's relationship to beloved and revered parents.

My research shows that the identical twin survivor does become fixated on the death of the same sex parent and grieves for a long time.   (See more in this book) If the same sex part does become the substitute twin, then this is not at all surprising.

When we come to think about the death of  Freud, even more evidence will come to light that this man was a womb twin survivor, but that is for tomorrow....


  1. Encourage your children to participate in activities they siblings rivalry really like. Do not expect to always join activities to do together, and where they will compete against each other.

  2. Thanks. This post was not so much about sibling rivalry and about the one sibling (Sigmund) who stood apart from his siblings. Self-isolation and feeling different is common among womb twin survivors.