A patient, Emily, is enraged at her brother for being the favorite of their parents. She has internalized a mental representation of her brother and it is unconsciously displaced onto friends, classmates, colleagues at work, etc. It is difficult for her to accept that her parents singled out her brother and treated him with obvious favoritism. He did not cause the rivalry; it was foisted upon both of them by their parents. Thus working out relationships between siblings involves working out feelings about parents as well. Sibling relationships take place in the context of a “family script” which involves a complex set of relationships between each child and each parent as well as between the children. The parents can be long gone, but the internalized relationship with siblings and parents is carried around with us--often unconsciously.

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