How Our Siblings Shape Us
With all due respect to nurturing parents everywhere, new research on family dynamics reveals that siblings have a potent influence on personality development. Our report brought poignant reflection from readers on how the presence--or absence--of siblings leaves an indelible mark
Your report on sibling relationships resonated with me [July 10]. I'm the middle child, between two brothers, and I have always been affected by my relationship with them. We grew up close, and now we are in touch each week. In times of discord, I don't like to go away angry at either of them. As my brothers and I have always said, "We can't stay mad at one another for more than an hour. We're family."
Siblings make us who we are. What has always seemed like common sense has finally been confirmed by scientific research. When I was preparing the dreaded tell-us-about-yourself essay for college applications last year, I submitted a draft to satisfy a class assignment, and my teacher told me that I had written a great essay--about my brother. It's hard to describe who you are only in terms of yourself when the people you've grown up with are the ones who made you that way.
To say that "siblings make you who you are" is simplistic nonsense. Our development is influenced by parents, grandparents, distant forebears, teachers --and on and on, ad infinitum. All the people we encounter make up a complex community that shapes each one of us.
JOHN R. THURSTON
Eau Claire, Wis.
The article did not mention what the loss of a sibling can do to those who are left behind. When my elder sister died suddenly, the effect was devastating. Losing your only sibling is much like losing half of yourself. If you lose your parents, you are an orphan; if you lose your spouse, you are a widow; but there is no term to describe a sibling who becomes an only child because of a cruel twist of fate.
KRISTIN MOSES MURRAY
Can Gitmo Be Fixed?
The reports about the treatment of suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay are disturbing [July 10]. Restraining a person in order to force-feed him via a nasogastric tube is revolting. As a doctor, I am shocked that our government engages in this abuse; as a Muslim, I am frightened that presumed religious fundamentalists have been so psychologically and physically tortured that they have tried to kill themselves (suicide, according to Islam, sends one straight to hell); and as a U.S. citizen, I find it morally unacceptable that inhuman acts are committed in our country's name.
SALEM SAMRA, M.D.
New Haven, Conn.
The detentions at Gitmo are immoral, illegal by international standards and profoundly un-American. It's time to shut down this abomination before we create even more enemies than we already have. We should try the detainees we can't immediately clear, punish the ones we convict and promptly release the rest. Any possibility of extracting useful intelligence from the detainees passed years ago.
Liberty vs. Security