My sister develops cancer as soon as his daughter is pregnant.

My sister develops cancer as soon as his daughter is pregnant. To punish himself?

My sister has ovarian cancer, which began when her daughter was pregnant. She does not know who her real father is, when the whole family knows it. My sister had a recurrence of this cancer at the birth of the second child of this same girl. Today, his condition is not good. Do you think, like me, that she is punishing, by cancer, the secret imposed on her daughter? Should she tell him about it? Am I allowed to shut up? Mathilde, Aix-en-Provence.

Claude Halmos



Thank you, Mathilde, for your questions. In spite of their precision, I do not think that one can answer it by simple "yes", "one" or "it is necessary".

Indeed, they bring into play heaps of suffering, and this, over three generations : your sister, her daughter and the descendants of it. Not to mention the preceding generations, because it is necessary that your parents had, themselves, a particular story so that your sister finds herself, with her daughter, in such a secret. Nevertheless, I think that, suffering for suffering, it would be better to tell the truth. Your grandnephews whom you say, in your letter, "hyperactive" are probably not by chance.

How to stay in place when you do not know what is your true place? And your niece does not have a chance of depression every pregnancy. As for your sister, the hypothesis of a link between her illness and guilt is obviously not excluded. Perhaps you could try talking to your sister and maybe even ask her to be present when she talks to her daughter? To help them put words on so much suffering and avoid, past the first movement, the judgments that are always sterile.

Psychoanalyst, author of Speaking is living (Nil), Claude Halmos replies each month to four letters selected from an abundant mail, of which we publish excerpts.


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