The aspects of the issue stemmed from the results have given birth interesting considerations that, besides being in line with the literature of the field, have provided a series of relevant elements useful to put forward innovative heuristic hypothesis.
The first interesting outcome, even though only descriptive, is the evident valence of the sibling relationship – mostly with elder brothers – as an effective resource, especially in terms of scaffolding. It emerges how considerable is the role of a brother – especially the elder – as a guidance for his sibling in coping traumatic events. Effectively, facing the reaction set off by a traumatic event, and realizing what really happened, requires a very challenging effort at emotional, cognitive and practical levels as well.
It seems to be also newsworthy the result related to the gender-different reaction to the event analysed, which ascribed higher levels of anger and stifled emotional stress in males (Karos et al. 2007).
As for the statistically significant negative correlations, those between the Anxiety scale and the Scaffolding and Decision-making factors lead to hypothesize that, the more considerable is the perception of helpfulness of the sibling relationship as a resource, the lower is the anxiety level suffered by the child who experienced the event. Hence, both support and decision-making process could play a mediational role for the anxiety factor.
The results relating to the correlations between the scales of Depression and Anger, and the three factors of the sibling relationship as a resource (i.e. Scaffolding, Emotional Sharing, and Decision making), seem to show that the complexity in itself of the relationship – founded on cognitive and affective factors – would promote a restraint of emotional feelings (Howe et al. 2001).
The data regarding the correlation between the Post Traumatic Stress scale and the Scaffolding and Decision Making factors, as well as that between the Dissociation scale and Decision Making factor, suggest that the possibility for a child to be guided by a sibling in the elaboration of tasks, in decision-making and problem solving processes, seem to be very helpful to cope the post traumatic stress and its consequent risk of not being able to assimilate the experience into his own history. Hence, the sibling relationship could be the keystone to go beyond the ineluctability of the event itself, not excluding and/or avoiding it, but redefining it as a critic moment in his life, rather than as impairment. Moreover, such considerations would seem to be in line with some recent studies on the developmental potentialities of the sibling relationship (Lecce et al. 2007; Lecce and Pinto 2004). The final point to stress is the correlation between the factors of the sibling relationship of the BRQ and the levels of the scores of the TSCC-A scale, whereas the high scores obtained by the BRQ would suggest that the perception of the sibling relationship induce some reference models that allow the processes investigated through the clinical scales to be kept at low levels.
To recapitulate, it seems that the sibling relationship is a real resource to be protected especially during difficult moments. In particular, it can be thought that the children involved, while reminiscing the quality of the bond with their own brother in respect of the event experienced, had gave it great credit and, therefore, they had perceived the elder brother in terms of scaffolding, emotional support and as reference model from whom they have learned new ways of coping the critical event. The sibling subsystem, effectively, “is the first social laboratory where children learn to negotiate, cooperate and compete with each other” (Minuchin 1976).
This research paper, even though in line with the reference national and international literature of the field, seems to provide innovative aspects regarding further studies, as well as intervention/treatment guides in the field of the Psychology of Emergence.
The first development plan – undertaken by the authors – could be the possibility to use the frame of the research project to investigate different conditions of trauma that imply the involvement of family system such as conditions of trauma-illness, trauma related to invasive and/or non-invasive pharmacology treatment, that often give birth to real developmental post-traumatic disorder (Perricone Briulotta 2012; Perricone et al. 2012; Perricone et al. 2013a, [b]; Perricone et al. 2010a, [b]). Moreover, the study allows to hypothesize intervention of psychological rehabilitation and specific trainings including methodological field research, that deals with the sibling relationship as a resource.
Children were involved after their parents had signed the declaration of informed consent according to the D.LGS. 196/2003 art.13 related to their personal and other people’s data protection. Written informed consent was obtained from parents for publication of this report.