Siblings not always harmonious

The relationship between siblings is not always harmonious - and in many cases family members can drift apart in later life. This is the suggestion of a new book by Jeanne Safer called Cain's Legacy, which explains why close bonds formed in childhood are sometimes broken as people get older.

The Times Modern supplement in The Times (6 February 2012) has looked at the book and noted there are numerous famous examples of two brothers or two sisters falling out. It gave the biblical incident of Cain murdering Abel, but also considered recent competitive relationships, such as Ed and David Miliband, Rhodri and Ryan Giggs and Noel and Liam Gallagher.

Ms Safer explained some individuals cannot be their adult selves around their brother or sister, as rivalries from their younger days resume, while many simply do not feel comfortable in each other's company.

She observed conversations can turn into a "walk on eggshells", adding: "There is a numbingly repetitive, even compulsive quality about these exchanges."

At the Society's 2009 Annual Conference, Liz Wright of De Montfort University and Professor Tony Cassidy, a Chartered Psychologist from the University of Ulster presented research that suggested those who grow up with at least one sister tend to become a happier and more balanced adult.