The dreams and existential questions of those, who came into being in order to replace a dead person, pivot around a central cry: Who am I? If conceived, born or designated as a replacement child, such an individual may suffer – even as an adult – from a rarely recognized unconscious confusion of identity, compounded by grief and survivors’ guilt. From before the child is born, the archetypal forces of death and life are joined in a fateful constellation; the soul of the replacement child bears the shadow of death from the very beginning of life. Hope for the replacement child lies in an emergence of true self as soul recreates original life. Analysis can help the replacement child experience a ‘rebirth into true life’, not as ‘the one who returned’, but as a psychologically newborn individual; the path of individuation countering the replacement child’s identification with the dead. Jungian analysis offers unique concepts for understanding and healing the replacement child; C. G. Jung himself was born after two stillborn babies and an infant that lived only five days.
By Kristina Schellinski