Houston Psychoanalytic Society

Meet the Author

Conflicting Siblings

Online Discussion with

Juliet Mitchell, MA, FBA

Friday, October 14, 2022
12:00PM - 1:30PM Central Time

Live via Zoom

*Pre-Registration required for Zoom invitation

Registration Fees

All HPS Members: $50

Non-members: $60

Instructional Level: Intermediate to Advanced



Two-year-old girls as well as boys have tantrums; both are reacting violently – even dangerously --to the arrival or prospect of a sibling; both genders are subject to the mother’s law which is the same law for both of them. How do girls come to receive violence and to have non-violence as a definition of their womanhood while boys perpetrate violence as a defining descriptor of their manhood? This is just one of the questions, certainly a major one, about our psycho-social world. An ‘answer’ does not have to do primarily with the usual suspects, children and their parents (patriarchy) but, instead, with sisters and brothers (fratriarchy). (Quoted from Juliet Mitchell)


In 2003, Juliet Mitchell published her groundbreaking book, Siblings: Sex and Violence. She expanded the traditional psychoanalytic emphasis on the vertical dimension of parent-child relationships to assert the importance of the lateral dimension of brothers and sisters. She also focused on concepts of sibling trauma and the Law of the Mother. In the 20 years since then, she has continued publishing and refining her ideas about gender and sibling relationships, influenced by a variety of psychoanalytic theories in conjunction with feminist thinking. Her new book, Fratriarchy: The Sibling Trauma and the Law of the Mother, forthcoming in 2023, describes how the collective social world and the individual family world mirror one another. This presentation and discussion with Juliet Mitchell offer a rich opportunity to engage with a deep thinker who has contributed foundational concepts to psychoanalytic theory.


After attending the program in its entirety, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe and distinguish the vertical and lateral dimensions in psychoanalysis.
  2. Describe what is meant by sibling trauma, the “law of the mother,” and fratriarchy

Author and Presenter

Juliet Mitchell, MA, FBA trained as a psychoanalyst in the 1970s and worked full time in private practice in London and then Cambridge. She also held an academic post at Cambridge from 1996 until 2008. She is currently Professorial Research Associate in the Psychoanalysis Unit at University College London, where she established and directed the M/Phil and PhD programs. She still writes and teaches worldwide.


Books by Juliet Mitchell (partial list)

1974 Psychoanalysis and Feminism (Random House)

2000 Mad Men and Medusas: Reclaiming Hysteria and the Effects of Sibling Relations (Penguin)

2003 Siblings: Sex and Violence (Polity)

Forthcoming in 2023 Fratriarchy: The Sibling Trauma and the Law of the Mother (Routledge)


Journal Articles by Juliet Mitchell (partial list)

2006 From Infant to Child: The Sibling Trauma, the Rite of Passage, and the Construction of the “Other” in the Social Group. fort/da, 7 (2): 35-50

2013 Siblings: Thinking Theory. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 67: 14-34


Related References by Other Authors

Bailly, L. (2022). The maternal covenant role and the function of the mother in the social field. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 103: 26-45.

Balsam, R. H. (2013) Sibling interaction. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 67: 35-52.

Gilmore, K. (2013). The theory of sibling trauma and the lateral dimension. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 67: 53-65.

Photo of children from Shutterstock

1302 Waugh Dr. #276, Houston, TX 77019
(713) 429-5810

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of American Psychoanalytic Association and the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, as a co-sponsor of Houston Psychoanalytic Society. The American Psychoanalytic Association is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The American Psychoanalytic Association designates this Live Activity for a maximum of 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION FOR ALL LEARNERS: None of the planners and presenters for this educational activity have relevant financial relationship(s)* to disclose with ineligible companies* whose primary business is producing, marketing, selling, re-selling, or distributing healthcare products used by or on patients. 

*Financial relationships are relevant if the educational content an individual can control is related to the business lines or products of the ineligible company.

-Updated July 2021-

Houston Psychoanalytic Society is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Houston Psychoanalytic Society maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

HPS, through co-sponsorship with the Center for Psychoanalytic Studies, also offers approved CEs for social workers, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists.

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