“Feeling that I have to do everything right”

How Pim got stuck because of the loss of his deceased brother
How Pim got stuck because of the loss of his deceased brother

Teacher Pim Huijbregts (28) was always a doubter, perfectionist, insecure. He recently discovered that his deceased brother Martijn, whom he never knew, plays an unexpectedly large role in his life. Psychotherapists see that the death of a child can have a significant impact on the brothers and sisters born afterwards and gave that phenomenon a name: Elvis children. “The sadness in our family is there and will always remain there.”

A full-page article appeared on 12 of September 2023 in the Algemeen Dagblad, a nationwide Dutch newspaper, presenting Ard Nieuwenbroek and his forthcoming book on Elvis Children, living in the shadow of a sibling. The article features teacher Paul under the headline that unconsciously wanted to make up for the loss of his sibling.

You can see the article (in Dutch), here. An English translation is also available on the site.

Life as a Replacement Child

Life as a Replacement Child
The fact that her brother died before she was born and no one talks about it haunts Johanna throughout her life. She feels like a surrogate child. © Unsplash/Andrii Leonov

This podcast titled: Life as a Replacement Child – in the Shadow of my Brother (in German) was published on 25 September 2023 in Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and features a German interview with Johanna Glaser, author of Federn haben eine starke Mitte (translated: Feathers have a strong centre).

You can listen to the podcast (in German) on Deutschlandfunk Kultur here, and on Spotify (also in German) here.

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Are You A “Spare” Like Prince Harry?

What Is A Replacement Child

Newsweek spoke to three people who call themselves a ‘replacement child’, to find out how being the ‘other’ child affected their childhood, and how it has shaped them as an adult.

Read the full Newsweek article here.

The Replacement Child As An Adult

The replacementchildforum.com is pleased to be able to share a training presentation for analysts and therapists by Co-Founder Kristina Schellinski who was invited by the Société de Psychanalyse, Active Intégrative.

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Ein Leben als Ersatz

(A life as a substitute)

Johanna Glasers Bruder starb vor ihrer Geburt, sie war ein „Ersatzkind“. Heute kämpft die 58-Jährige um einen eigenen Platz im Leben.

Johanna Glaser’s brother died before she was born, she was a “surrogate child”. Today, the 58-year-old is fighting for her own place in life.

Read the complete article in its original German here.

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January 13, 2023

James Joyce, replacement child

Further to Declan Kiberd’s review of The Cambridge Centenary ‘Ulysses’ (December 23 & 30), the book’s chronology doesn’t indicate the death of Joyce’s parents’ first son, John. I have written about Joyce as “replacement child” – his father saying Joyce “usurped the cot of his older brother” – and how the dead brother seems to haunt Joyce all his life. Ulysses revolves around the death of Molly and Bloom’s baby son; Stephen is “a changeling, split between the true Irish son and the fraudulent outsider”; “The Dead” is about Gretta’s “first love”, who had died, “a young boy … very delicate”. There is a deep resistance to the “replacement child” concept, even though it can have a profound effect on the surviving child. We see echoes of it in so many writers, including Freud, Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot and George Eliot.

Mary Adams
Beckenham, London

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Louise Glück and the trauma of being a replacement child

The effects of having your life overshadowed by the death of a sibling before you were born should be examined, writes Mary Adams

Mary Adams Trauma
Photograph: Tim Gainey/Alamy

The effects of having your life overshadowed by the death of a sibling before you were born should be examined, writes Mary Adams.

Read the complete letter-to-the-editor, featured on The Guardian.com, here.

The Unconscious Suffering of The Replacement Child

Kristina Schellinski on Louise Glück and Annie Ernaux, and Jim Cosgrove on why overdoing the labelling of children as ‘replacements’ is offensive.

Annie Ernaux
Annie Ernaux, winner of the 2022 Nobel prize in literature, has described herself as a ‘replacement child’. Photograph: Tt News Agency/Reuters

Re Mary Adams’ letter (Louise Glück and the trauma of being a replacement child, 2 December), children born into grief or even conceived in order to replace a missing sibling deserve recognition and compassionate help to heal their trauma.

«Mon existence tenait à la mort d’un bébé»: le lourd héritage des enfants de «remplacement»

My existence depended on the death of a baby”: the heavy legacy of “replacement” children

They were born after the death of a brother or sister; consciously or not, to fill a void. They are called “surrogate children”. How do you build your own identity when you come into the world to replace someone who has disappeared, when you grow up in the shadow of a dead person?

You can read the entire Le Figaro article (in the original French), here.

Preferred Health Magazine – Winter 2021

Anxiety over sickness and death during the pandemic may trigger depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for al of us, and especially for those who identify as Replacement Children.


Read Replacement Child Forum’s co-founder Judy Mandel’s complete article here.