Les frères des enfants atteints d'une maladie neurologique chronique: Difficultés et besoins émotionnels

Translated title of the contribution: Brothers of children with a neurological desease: Difficulties and affective needs. Study of a clinical sample

U. Balottin, C. Termine, M. Quadrelli, S. Brondolo, S. Baratelli, F. Zambonin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. Feelings of envy and jealousy among brothers belonging to families with a child affected by a chronic neuromotor impairment have rarely been studied and literature on this subject is sparce. The interest of this work arises in particular from our experience with families and children suffering from this kind of disability. Aims of the study. The individuation of frequency and characteristics of overt or «hidden» emotional problems in brothers of handicapped children. Needs of the handicapped child lead to the partial disinvestment of the «healthy» one. We therefore focused our attention on the defensive mechanisms involved. Method. The work was carried out in the Rehabilitation Unit of our Department of Child Neuropsychiatry. We selected all the families in which a son exhibited severe neuromotor impairment, and we proposed some sessions with the parents and the healthy children. Only 10 families with 11 children accepted these sessions. We asked the other families to fill-in the Achenbach checklist (CBCL). Assessment of the 11 children seen was made with talks, drawing and playing sessions, and with an interview of the parents at the beginning and at the end of the sessions. Results. We present the data of 33 CBCL filled-in and returned and of 11 psychodiagnostic observations. The CBCL showed 6 pathological and 5 borderline (with high psychopathological risk) total T scores. Among the 11 clinically observed children, 4 revealed a relevant psychopathological profile, so an individual psychotherapeutic therapy was proposed. These children expressed their emotional problems by difficult peer relationships, attention and concentration deficits and failure at school. Moreover, we found a significant correlation between a relevant child psychopathology, the fragile personality structure of the parents, and problems in the parental couple. Conclusions. These data stress the importance that must be given to emotional problems of handicapped children's brothers. Very often these children aren't able to express these problems, because either the parents' mental space is full of fears for the sick child's prognosis and care, and their «free» time is filled with hospitalisations, check-ups and rehabilitation. Our experience shows that giving attention and space for thoughts encourages emotional and relational movements, with a transforming value that leads to enhanced integration of emotional experiences.

Translated title of the contributionBrothers of children with a neurological desease: Difficulties and affective needs. Study of a clinical sample
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


  • Children with neurological chronic disease
  • Family
  • Healthy brothers
  • Psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuroscience(all)


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