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Surviving loss of a twin in childhood: a case study

Ward, Siobhan (2018) Surviving loss of a twin in childhood: a case study. Other thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

My research investigates the impact on the survivor of loss of a twin in childhood. Using the qualitative method of thematic analysis applied to a single case, I analyse a published biographical account of surviving this traumatic loss. My findings point to the extreme emotional suffering involved. Among the defences employed to protect the survivor from the anguish of separation and from survival anxiety and guilt, the dead twin is internalised. The trauma and the dead twin are encapsulated in the psyche, unaffected by Time. They are experienced as holes in the psyche and contact with them is avoided. The result can be a half-life for the adult survivor, with a sense of his secret self as wounded, weak, frightened, inhibited, and haunted. This impact of the traumatic loss endures until it is actively mourned and integrated, so far as possible, into the survivor’s life. My findings indicate that external and internal containing objects are needed for this task. It is through mourning that the surviving twin dis-identifies from his dead twin and re-finds the living twin as a life-giving and loving internal object. Through mourning, other containing and protective internal objects are rediscovered and reconfigured. The result is an enlivening of the survivor and a new sense of himself as emotionally capable and contained. In my conclusions regarding the clinical implications of my findings, I suggest that there needs to be recognition of and respect for the survivor’s great sorrow. Above all, treatment needs to be about connectedness and finding a way to the lost good objects. Lastly, I suggest how future research might test the implications of my findings for other kinds of loss of a twin and sibling loss in general.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Uncontrolled Keywords: twin loss; twin death; twin survivorship; sibling loss; sibling death; sibling survivorship; loss of a child; traumatic loss; loss of the good object; recovery of the good object; post-traumatic identification; survival anxiety; survival joy; survival guilt; sibling love
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Siobhan Ward
Date Deposited: 15 May 2018 10:30
Last Modified: 15 May 2018 10:30
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/21913

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