Brothers & Sisters: Myth and Reality

Brothers & Sisters: Myth and Reality

Brothers & Sisters: Myth and Reality

Brothers & Sisters: Myth and Reality


Growing up, we typically spend more time with our brothers and sisters than we do with our parents. In an age of divorce, mobility, and alienation, the sibling bond is often the only one that really lasts.

Given that brothers and sisters are such a fundamental aspect of human existence, it is remarkable that they have received so little in-depth attention in the field of psychology.

Henry Abramovitch's Brothers and Sisters explores the tension between the myth and reality of brothers and sisters in a variety of cultures and through the poignant brother-sister stories in the Bible. Abramovitch looks at the developmental sequence in the sibling relationship as brothers or sisters struggle to find their place with each other, concluding with a very personal account of his own relationship with his brother and sister.


Brothers and Sisters is an important and timely volume. I first met the author in 1990 at a conference on “The Archetype of the Healer” organized by Anthony Stevens and held at Oxford University. At that time I felt an immediate, brotherly bond with Henry, so it is gratifying for this book to come to the Fay Series, which I have edited.

The sister-and-brother relationship is fundamental to our global community. I put the female first here because that’s where we all originated. And for the survival of our increasingly complicated world, love for our brothers and sisters is the right way and the way of justice. Henry Abramovitch offers a true understanding of the depth and breadth of this topic. He even includes the erotic or taboo in love and marriage in a historic revelation of the fact of royal incest—in Egypt, Peru, and Hawaii—and draws special inspiration from the siblings stories in scripture, from Cain and Abel through to the sisters and brothers who are the children of Job.

The book made me think more deeply about my own sister and brother. I come from a family of five children: three girls and two boys. We liked and loved each other as sisters and brothers are inclined to do. I have one older and two younger sisters and a younger brother. Despite sibling rivalry, which can lead to conflict and even death (as Cain and Abel taught us), our relationship taught us to get beyond divisiveness. Like brothers and sisters in a nuclear family, the world family must transcend war and establish peace in our difficult and beautiful civilization.

Perhaps it is synchronicity that Texas A&M University is developing a “Peace Campus” in Nazareth, the Arab capital of Israel. Nazareth . . .

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