Published on June 7, 2016
1. LOVE’S OWN TRUTHS Bonding and Balancing in Close Relationships by Bert Heliinger Translated from the German by Maureen Oberli-Turncr and Hunter Beaumont mZeig, Tucker & Theiscn, Inc. Phoenix, Arizona
2. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hellinger, Bert. Love's O w n Truths : bonding and balancing in close relationships / by B e r t Hellinger ; translated from the German by Maureen Oberli-Turner and Hunter Beaumont. p. cm. Includes index. I S B N 1 - 8 9 1 9 4 4 - 4 8 - 7 (alk. paper) 1. Family Psychotherapy. 2. Family — Psychological aspects. 3. Conduct of life. I. Title. R C 4 8 8 . 5 . H 4 3 4 2001 6 1 6 . 8 9 ' 1 5 6 — d c 2 1 2 0 0 1 0 2 3 7 5 5 Copyright © 2001 by Zeig, Tucker & Theisen, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced by any process whatsoever without the written permission of the copyright owner. Published by Z E I G , T U C K E R & T H E I S E N , I N C . 3 6 1 4 North 24th Street Phoenix, A Z 8 5 0 1 6 Manufactured in the United States of America 1 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
3. C o n t e n t s Preface xvii Acknowledgments xx Insight Through Restraint E x c e r p t s f r o m a L e c t u r e on Alternative A p p r o a c h e s t o H e a l i n g Story: Helping revelations 1 Scientific and phenomenological paths of discovery 2 T h e procedure 2 Restraint 3 Courage 3 Story: Resonance 3 Philosophical phenomenology and conscience 4 Psychotherapeutic phenomenology 5 T h e soul 6 Religious phenomenology 6 Story: Turning back 7 Entanglements and Their Resolution F r o m a n A d v a n c e d T r a i n i n g C o u r s e for H e l p i n g Professionals THE FIRST DAY T h e opening round 11 Adoption is risky 11 Rules of involvement 12 Story: More or less 13 T h e double displacement 13 T h e first woman 15 Happiness needs courage 16 A son's u n c o n s c i o u s identification with his m o t h e r ' s favorite b r o t h e r 16
4. VI Contents T h e difference between following someone's example and being identified with a person 26 T h e principle of minimalism 27 Individuation detracts from the intensity of a relationship 27 Love follows predetermined laws 28 Rules of priority 29 T h e priority of the first close relationship 30 T h e hierarchy in the family 30 T h e exclusive status of the intimate sphere 31 Priorities in divorce 31 T h e objection 33 Hierarchy in organizations 33 T h e decision not to have children 35 " T o be or not to b e " 3 6 T h e consequences of such a decision for the couple's relationship 36 At loggerheads 37 Children w h o get bad grades 38 Transferred grief 38 A d a u g h t e r represents h e r father's d e c e a s e d sister 39 Compensation through suffering 43 Compensation on a higher level 44 Compensation through acknowledgment and respect 45 A c c e p t i n g one's life e v e n a t the c o s t o f m a n y o t h e r s 4 5 Story: They're here 48 Acknowledged personal guilt as a source of strength 56 Saving face for one's father 57 It is easier to suffer than to accept the solution 58 T h e humble solution hurts 58 A child's interrupted movement toward his mother or father 59 Shoulder pains 62 A flea in his ear 62 T h e m o t h e r t h r e a t e n e d t o kill herself a n d h e r children 6 3 T h e consequences of murder and threats of murder within the family 71 People w h o have forfeited their right to belong must leave 72
5. Contents Questions that help and questions that don't 73 T h e therapist's responsibility when working with family constellations 74 Observing process rather than content 75 B e c o m i n g entangled in other people's confusion and other people's feelings in a family constellation 76 T h e mother's threat of suicide 77 Story: The end 78 A matter of life and death 80 T h e grave 81 T w o g r e a t - u n c l e s w e r e e x c l u d e d , a n d a n uncle w a s despised 81 T h e members of the family system 88 United in a c o m m o n fate: survivors and the deceased and victims and perpetrators 89 A wife threatened to commit suicide 90 T h e d a u g h t e r represents h e r father's f o r m e r fiancee 9 1 T h e best place for children 96 Unconscious identification with a parent's former partner 97 Preoccupation with G o d 99 W h o should have custody of the child of an addicted mother? 1 0 0 W h a t leads to addiction? 101 Addiction as a means of atonement 1 0 4 Intuition is dependent on love 105 Addiction as attempted suicide 105 T h e healing movement toward the mother 105 W h a t should be c o n s i d e r e d w h e n a child's i n t e r r u p t e d m o v e m e n t t o w a r d its m o t h e r o r father i s r e s u m e d a n d c o m p l e t e d 1 0 6 T h e parents 106 Representatives of the parents 107 T h e deep b o w 108 T h e movement toward the parents must reach beyond them 109
6. Vlll Conten ts T H E SECOND DAY Adopting the role of victim as a means of revenge 110 T h e reassurance 111 T h e compensation 111 A surprising recovery 111 Amicable feelings 112 Identifying a double shift 112 Resolving a double shift 113 T h e wrong kind of forgiveness 119 T h e consequences for the child 1 2 0 A handicapped brother and an unacknowledged half brother, both of whom died as children 121 Story: Fullness 130 A hopeless struggle 132 Taking on someone else's sadness makes one weak 132 Psychological hygiene in constellations 132 T h e stress of being happy 133 Divorce and guilt 1 3 4 Children frequently atone for irresponsible separations 134 Compulsive compensation through atonement 135 Feelings of guilt as a denial of reality 1 3 6 T h e bond created by the consummation of love 136 Within the mother's sphere of influence 137 Different ways of giving and taking in the family 138 Beloved burden 1 4 0 The father was illegitimate, the father's father was excluded from the family 141 W h e n a child takes on the role of a parent 147 Atonement for the death of a woman in childbirth 147 Story: The illusion 150 Father and son 1 5 4 U n k n o w n grandfather 154 Honoring one's mother 155 Displaced enthusiasm 155
7. Contents ix T h e d a u g h t e r is identified with h e r father's f o r m e r fiancee 156 Objective and subjective presumptuousness 161 Longing for one's father 162 Priority of the husband or wife in the family 163 T h e woman follows the man, and the man is in the service of womanhood 164 Hopeless love 165 W h a t wrong must I have done to you to make me feel so angry with you? 166 Anger as a defense against pain 167 Controlled anger 167 Different kinds of anger 167 Caution and courage 169 A son represents his m o t h e r ' s f o r m e r fiance 170 T h e systemic sense of balance 172 Different kinds of conscience 173 Story: Innocence 174 Conscience and compensation 175 Constructive and destructive equilibrium 175 T h e limits of compensation 176 Balance through gratitude and humility 177 Lasting clarity 177 Leaving the past in peace 178 All that remains of fire is ashes 179 No more back pains 180 Inequality in a couple's relationship a n d the l a w of c o m p e n s a t i o n 180 Jealousy and compensation 185 Innocence and guilt 186 Unfaithfulness and faithfulness 186 Assumed feelings of revenge 188 Reflections on innocence 188 Gifts for one's mother 188 Crises are most easily resolved after they peak 189 T h e o t h e r i m a g e 189
8. X Contents T H E THIRD DAY T h e round 193 Assumed symptoms 194 T h e appropriate measure 196 Exonerated 197 T h e high price 197 T h e base feeling, and h o w to change it 198 Peace through love 2 0 0 Secret happiness 2 0 0 A different kind of knowledge 201 Giving without taking 2 0 2 N e w perspectives 2 0 2 Futile fantasies about relationships 2 0 2 Giving and taking in a partnership 2 0 3 Letting pressure flow away 2 0 4 T h e question of religion 2 0 5 Sadness about aunts who died in a concentration camp 2 0 5 Respecting the parents of handicapped children 2 0 6 Presumption and its consequences 2 0 6 Halfway there 2 0 8 Y e s and no to having a child of one's own 2 0 9 Y e s and no to smoking 2 1 0 R e l i e f for headaches 2 1 0 Honoring one's father — and behind him, God 211 Refusal to accept atonement 2 1 2 T h e y o u n g e s t d a u g h t e r ' s identification with h e r m o t h e r 2 1 2 Inheritances with and without a price 2 1 7 I n the grip o f fate 2 1 9 A short round 2 2 9 Standing firmly on both feet 2 3 0 Wanting to escape from emotional fullness 2 3 0 Fullness and completeness 2 3 0 Story: Reunion 231 Liking and respecting 231 Equals among equals 2 3 2 Reconciliation through clarity 2 3 3
9. Contents X I R e m a i n i n g attentive 2 3 3 Self-restraint, with attentiveness and energy 2 3 4 T h e limits o f innocence 2 3 4 T h e relief of living in the present 2 3 5 Paying attention to the inner process 2 3 5 Helping victims of incest 2 3 6 H o w to help perpetrators of incest 2 4 1 Story: The stillness 2 4 2 About moral indignation 2 4 2 Story: Tlxe adulteress 2 4 3 W h a t r e d u c e s w o m e n t o size after t h e y a s s u m e t h e r o l e o f G o d 2 4 5 Story: Mercy does not last forever 2 4 5 W o m e n and m e n 2 5 4 T h e break with G o d 2 5 4 Story: Greater faith 2 5 5 T h e father's p a r e n t s w e r e killed i n a c o n c e n t r a t i o n c a m p ; t h e m o t h e r ' s p a r e n t s s u r v i v e d b y hiding 2 5 6 Life's grace 2 6 2 R e g a i n i n g a n d a c c e p t i n g a f a t h e r w h o died w h e n his s o n w a s still y o u n g 2 6 3 A p p r o p r i a t e s e p a r a t i o n 2 6 8 T h e blessing concealed in things that went wrong 2 7 2 T h e next step 2 7 3 Closeness and restriction 2 7 3 M o t h e r and child 2 7 4 D o i n g the right thing for one's aging parents 2 7 4 T h e courage to do what is appropriate 2 7 4 Perspectives 2 7 5 Story: The way of the world 2 7 6 H o n o r i n g what has been 2 7 6
10. xn Contents Laws of Belonging From a Workshop for Family Therapists T h e solution as a religious act 2 7 9 A woman who cannot have children of her own adopted a child 2 8 0 T h e price 2 8 6 T h e hierarchy o f belonging 2 8 7 Objections 2 8 7 A child's right to his or her parents 2 8 9 T h e focus is on the victim, the child, and not on the perpetrators 2 8 9 T h e next step 2 9 1 T h e solution through dissolution 2 9 2 S h o c k and dread 2 9 3 Pity and forgetting 2 9 4 Seeing and hearing 2 9 5 Identical guilt has identical consequences 2 9 6 Objections impede the solution 2 9 6 Insight and action 2 9 6 Inherited children 2 9 8 A father agreed to the adoption of his illegitimate daughter by her mother's second husband 2 9 9 Story: Heaven and earth 3 0 6 Systemic Conditions of Illness and Health From a Seminar for People with Serious Illnesses, and Their Doctors and Therapists, Held During an International Conference on Medicine and Religion I N T R O D U C T O R Y L E C T U R E : B E L I E F S T H A T C O N T R I B U T E T O I L L N E S S A N D D I S E N C H A N T M E N T T H A T H E A L S T h e fellowship of fate Family loyalty and its consequences 311 3 1 1
11. Contents X l l l T h e longing for balance 3 1 2 Illness follows the desires of the heart 3 1 2 "Better me than you" 3 1 3 Enlightened love 3 1 6 "I will go instead of y o u " 317 "Even if you go, I will stay" 3 1 7 "I will follow you" 3 1 8 "I will go on living for a little while" 3 1 8 Beliefs that cause illness 3 1 9 Love that heals 3 2 0 Story: Faith and love 3 2 0 Illness as atonement 321 Compensation through atonement is misfortune doubled 321 Healing ways of compensation 3 2 2 Reconciliation is better than atonement 3 2 3 Illness as an attempt to atone for someone else 3 2 3 Illness as a result of refusing to honor one's parents 3 2 4 To honor one's parents is to honor the earth 3 2 4 Story: Absence and presence 3 2 4 THE SEMINAR " I will follow y o u " 3 2 7 A m o t h e r follows h e r h a n d i c a p p e d child i n t o d e a t h 337 D y i n g is preferable to b o w i n g to one's father 3 4 9 L a t e r c o n s e q u e n c e s of poliomyelitis a n d a difficult p r e g n a n c y a n d birth 357 Identification w i t h a m e m b e r o f the opposite sex 3 6 6 Identification with a person of the opposite sex in homosexual love and psychosis 3 7 0 Deciding in favor of the father over the mother's lover 371 Knowledge must engender action 3 7 2 " B e t t e r m e than y o u " 3 7 2 Family constellations work through the inner picture 3 8 3
12. X I V Contents " T h e right thing" 3 8 3 Family constellations using symbols 3 8 4 O n e b r o t h e r died s o o n after b i r t h , a n d t h e o t h e r c o m m i t t e d suicide 3 8 5 Suicide out o f motives o f love 3 9 2 Blaming someone else as a defense against pain 3 9 2 Refusal to answer a question 3 9 2 Procedure in family constellations W h e n a mother has committed suicide 3 9 3 W h e n does the client enter the group? 3 9 3 H o w close may dead people stand to living persons? 3 9 4 H e r o i n - a d d i c t e d d a u g h t e r : the m a l e e l e m e n t i s m i s s i n g i n the f a m i l y 3 9 4 Children follow their father just as their mother follows her husband 4 0 1 N o c o n s i d e r a t i o n f o r m e n 4 0 6 T h e priority of the present over the past 4 1 1 F o r m e r partners are represented later on by children 4 1 1 Illegitimate children born in a marriage 4 1 2 Abortion is none of the children's business 4 1 3 W h a t happens when there is no solution? 4 1 4 A s o n h a s a serious a c c i d e n t : "I will go i n s t e a d of y o u , D a d d y d e a r " 4 1 5 A n a n o r e c t i c girl: "I'll g o i n s t e a d o f y o u , D a d d y d e a r " 4 2 0 Bouts of overeating with subsequent vomiting 4 2 5 In harmony with a higher providence and grace 4 2 6 Story: Knowledge and wisdom 427 Answers to Questions from a Friend T h e systemic dimension of problems and destinies 4 3 3 Teachers and influences 4 3 5 Family constellations 4 3 8
13. Contents x v Seeing 4 4 0 Reservations about "seeing" 4 4 0 T h e hypnotherapy o f Milton Erickson 4 4 1 Stories 4 4 1 Personal experience 4 4 2 Insights 4 4 3 Love 4 4 3 Balance and compensation 4 4 4 T h e equal right to belong 4 4 5 Causes of illness and healing in families 4 4 6 Important procedures 4 4 6 Taking the lead 4 4 7 G o i n g to the limits 4 4 7 Trusting reality, even when it is shocking 4 4 8 Stopping clients from describing problems 4 5 0 Going with the energy 4 5 1 W o r k i n g with a m i n i m u m 4 5 1 Interruptions in the work 4 5 2 Guarding against curiosity 4 5 2 N o verification o f success 4 5 3 T h e present m o m e n t counts 4 5 4 Index 4 5 7
14. P r e f a c e This book is about the natural laws constraining love in human relation- ships. T h e blind, innocent love of children is more instructive and often leads us astray. Love succeeds only when we understand these natural laws and align ourselves with them. W h e n love comes to understand and follow these laws, it becomes the fulfillment of our longing. This knowing love has a healing and gratifying effect on us, and on those around us. This book consists of verbatim transcripts of three therapeutic workshops, parts of which have been condensed. The first workshop, on entanglements and their resolution, was an advanced training course for helping professionals; it is reproduced here virtually in its entirety. This workshop introduces the reader to the technique of setting up fami- ly constellations, illustrates how people sometimes become entangled in the fates of other members of their family, and describes the consequences of such entanglements. It documents how the fate of an excluded family member can be un- knowingly taken over and continued by a later member of the family. This unknowing repetition of another's fate is what is meant by entanglement. This workshop also documents some possibilities for the resolution of entanglements. It shows how, when the excluded member is accorded due honor and respect, the wholeness of the family system is restored and love obviates the necessity for the repetition of his or her fate by a later member of the family. This is what is meant by the resolution. Readers will find here evidence for the natural laws of love operating in human relationship systems. Entanglements arise when we love innocently and are blindly obedient to these laws. T h e n it can happen that innocent "children" must atone for the guilt of "adults." Resolution is possible when our love becomes "knowing," when we align ourselves with the natural laws of love with wisdom. T h e n our need for loyalty and the equality of all family members brings healing and fulfillment. The second workshop was for family therapists. A selection from this work- shop demonstrates where abandoned and adopted children belong, what
15. XV111 happens when parents give a child up for adoption frivolously, or when a child is adopted by strangers acting in their own self-interest. The third workshop was for seriously ill people and their doctors and thera- pists. It took place at a large conference on religion and medicine. T h e constellations from this workshop shed light on systemic dynamics associ- ated with illness, serious accidents, and suicide in the fellowship of fate among members of the family. It shows how resources for healing can be mobilized, how irreversible fate can be faced and accepted, and h o w such destinies can sometimes be changed for the better. This book fulfills several purposes. First, the verbatim transcriptions of three therapeutic workshops enable the reader to participate in the step-by-step search for resolution to prob- lems. Hopefully, this participation by proxy may also help the reader to find ways of overcoming personal crises and of obtaining healing in the case of systemic and psychologically caused illness. Second, the book contains demonstrations and explanations of important therapeutic procedures, mainly in the context of family constellations, and also in connection with the resumption and completion of a previously in- terrupted movement by a young child toward the mother or father. Third, readers interested in understanding the inner posture that underlies this work may experience how liberating and healing insights are the result of a specific focused approach to knowing, which I have called phenome- nological psychotherapy. This posture is described in detail. T h e names of the participants and places have been changed and their identities concealed. T h e text is accompanied by diagrams of all the stages of the family constellations. T h e therapeutic procedures and recurring pat- terns are described and explained in intermediary chapters, and stories rele- vant to the therapeutic process are interspersed. T h e interview at the end of the book ("Answers to Questions from a Friend") is included in the hope that it will enhance the understanding of my work. It includes information about the different stages of my thera- peutic development and helps to explain the insights and intentions behind important procedures. Love's Own Truths has become a fundamental statement of my approach, which goes far beyond conventional psychotherapy and which has proved to be of practical help to many different people in their daily lives. I hope that you enjoy reading this material, and that you gain helpful
16. Preface x i x insights into "Love's O w n Truths." I wish, too, that y o u will c o m e to trust your o w n perception of your alignment with these natural laws of love with understanding so that you may fulfill your heart's desire. Bert Hellinger
17. Acknowledgments This b o o k has taken a long and arduous journey from its inception to its publication in English. I should like to thank my many friends for their help and advice. Dr. Gunthard W e b e r and Dr. Norbert Linz accompanied me through all the stages of writing this b o o k and were not content until I had arranged and presented the abundant data in a clear form. I am grateful to Professor Michael Angermaier and Heinrich Breuer for their help in collecting the data. T h e y also organized the first course described in this b o o k and recorded it on video. T h e second course was recorded by Friedrich Fehlinger, and the third by Verena Nitschke. T h e final editing of the German edition was carried out by Dr. Norbert Linz. He also conducted the interview "Answers to Questions from a Friend," which appears at the end of the book. My sincere thanks go to all these helpers. T h e English translation was the work of Maureen Oberli-Turner, a diffi- cult task because there were no English equivalents for many of the c o n - cepts described in the German text. Maureen Oberli-Turner nevertheless managed to produce a clear, readable English text, and I thank her warmly for her valuable work. Suzi T u c k e r , my editor at Zeig, T u c k e r & Theisen, painstakingly worked her way through the manuscript, making countless suggestions for i m - provement and correction. Her clear eye and deft editorial hand brought n e w life to a dangerously moribund project. Hunter B e a u m o n t has been closely involved with the transition of my work into English from the beginning. O u r discussions have brought clari- ty, differentiation, and greater precision to my writing, and have proved a valuable impetus for the further development of my work. He has also given generously of his o w n insights and formulations. In a sense, he has collaborated with me in presenting my work in English. He has completely reworked this manuscript, and it has gained much from his efforts.
18. I N S I G H T T H R O U G H R E S T R A I N T Excerpts from a Lecture on Alternative Approaches to Healing
19. I'll start by telling you a story. Helping revelations A young man seeking further knowledge sets out on his bicycle into the country- side. He is driven by the joy of exploration, and his enthusiasm knows no bounds. Far beyond his usual territory, he finds a new path. Here there are no more signs to guide him, and he must rely on what his eye can see and what his stride can measure. Now what was only an intuition becomes experience. His path ends at a wide river and he gets off his bicycle. He sees that pro- ceeding will require leaving everything he has on the riverbank, quitting the safety of solid ground, putting himself in the hands of a force that is stronger than he is and allowing himself to be overpowered and swept along. He hesi- tates, and then retreats. This is his first revelation. Riding home, he admits to himself that he understands very little that could be helpful to others, and even that little he knows, he could scarcely communi- cate. He imagines himself to be a bicycle rider following another whose fender is rattling. He imagines calling out, "Hey, your fender's rattling!" The other answers "What?" He imagines yelling louder, "Your fender's rattling!" The other answers, "I can't hear you. My fender's rattling." He realizes, "He didn't need my help at all!" This is his second revelation. A short time later, he asks an old teacher, "How do you manage to help others? Many come to you asking for advice, and they leave feeling better even though you know little of their affairs?" The teacher answers, "When someone loses courage and doesn't want to go on, the problem is seldom lack of knowledge but rather wanting safety when courage is called for and seeking freedom where necessity leaves no choice. And so he goes in circles. A teacher resists appearance and illusion. He finds his cen- ter and waits for a helpful word, as a ship with sails raised waits to catch the wind. When someone comes seeking help, the teacher is waiting where the visi- tor himself must go, and if an answer comes, it comes for both of them, for both are listeners." And then the teacher adds, "Waiting at the center is light." 1
20. Scientific and phenomenological paths of discovery There are two inner movements that lead to insight. One reaches out, wanting to understand and to control the as yet unknown. This is scientific inquiry. We know how profoundly it has transformed and enriched our lives and enhanced our well-being. The second movement happens when we pause in our efforts to grasp the unknown, allowing our attention to rest, not on the particulars, which we can define, but on the greater whole. Here, our view is wide, open to receive the infinite complexity around us. When we affirm this inner movement, for example, when presented with a landscape, task, or prob- lem, then we notice how our mind's eye is simultaneously enriched and emptied. We can tolerate such richness only when we restrain our interest in individual things. We pause in the movement of reaching out, pull back a bit, until we arrive at the inner stillness that is competent to deal with the vastness and complexity of the greater whole. This inquiry, which first orients itself in inwardness and restraint, I call phenomenological. It leads to different insights than the inquiry that active- ly reaches out. Still, the two movements complement one another. Even in an actively reaching out, scientific inquiry, we occasionally need to shift our attention from the narrow to the broad and from what is close at hand to the larger context. And similarly, insights gained by phenomenological inquiry must be tested in their specifics. The procedure In phenomenological inquiry, we expose ourselves to a broad spectrum of appearances without choosing between them or preferring one to the other. This kind of investigation demands of us not only that we empty ourselves of previously held conceptions, but also that we let go of our preferences in relation to all inner movements, be they feelings, intentions, or preferences. Our attention is simultaneously directed and undirected, both focused and devoid of focus. The phenomenological posture draws us tight and restrains us from ac- tion. In this tension, we become utterly incapable of perception, and yet prepared to perceive. Whoever endures the tension experiences, after a while, that the diversity in the spectrum of appearances clusters around a center, and suddenly recognizes connections, perhaps a system, a truth, or the next step to take. Such insight comes to us and is experienced as a gift, although it has, as a rule, its limits. 2
21. R e s t r a i n t T h e first condition for insight experienced in this way is the absence of in- tention. O u r intentions force our personal views onto reality, perhaps seek- ing to change it according to our preconceived concepts, or to influence others or to convince them. Having intentions, we act as if we were su- perior to reality, as if reality were an object of our scrutiny, rather than the reverse, that reality scrutinizes us. This makes clear what we restrain w h e n we forego intentions, even good intentions. As if we had a choice, for e x - perience shows that what we do with the best of intentions often goes amiss. Intent is no substitute for insight. C o u r a g e T h e second condition for insight experienced in this way is the absence of fear. We wear blinders when we fear what reality may bring to light. W h e n we fear what others may think or say when we report what we see, we close ourselves to further observation. And a therapist w h o is afraid to confront a client's reality, for example, the fact that the client does not have long to live, is not up to dealing with his client's reality and is appro- priately mistrusted or even feared by his client. R e s o n a n c e Freedom from fear and from intention make possible resonance with reality as it is, even with its fearful, overwhelming, and terrible side. This freedom allows a therapist to be in harmony with good and ill fortune, guilt and innocence, illness and health, life and death. And precisely through this resonance, the therapist gains insight and strength to face difficulties, and occasionally to bring adversity into harmony with reality. Here is another story: A disciple asked his teacher, "Tell me what freedom is." "Which freedom?" asked the teacher. "The first freedom is foolishness. That's like a horse that throws its rider with a triumphant whinny, only to feel the saddle girth pulled tighter. "The second freedom is remorse. Remorse is like the helmsman who goes down with the ship after he has sailed it onto a reef, rather than seek safety in the lifeboat with the others. 3
22. "The third freedom is insight. Insight comes, alas, only after foolishness and remorse. It's like a shaft of wheat that bends in the wind, and because it bends where it's weak, endures." The disciple asked, "Is that all?" The teacher said, "Many think they're seeking the truth of their own soul, but it's the Greater Soul that thinks and seeks in them. Like nature, it toler- ates many deviations, but replaces with ease those who dare to violate its truth. But to those who allow it to think in them, it allows in turn a little freedom, helping them like a river helps a swimmer cross to the other shore if he sur- renders to the current, and allows himself to be swept along." Philosophical phenomenology and conscience Philosophical p h e n o m e n o l o g y is concerned with k n o w i n g the essential in the fullness of the phenomenal world. I may k n o w the essential by c o m - pletely and fully opening my being and exposing it to the abundance of the p h e n o m e n a l world. T h e n , what is essential eventually flashes out of the u n k n o w n like a lightning bolt, and it illuminates far b e y o n d what I could have logically deduced from k n o w n premises and concepts. Nevertheless, such insights are never complete. T h e y remain swathed in the u n k n o w n , just as every Is by Not-Is. I gained insight into the essential aspects of conscience through phe- nomenological inquiry. F o r example, I had the insight that a family system has a sense of balance, w h i c h helps me to feel whether or not I am in har- m o n y with it, and if what I do endangers my membership. T h u s , in this context, " g o o d conscience" only means that I still remain a m e m b e r of my group, and "bad conscience" only means that my membership is endan- gered. If we look phenomenologically, we see that conscience has little to do with universal laws and truths, but rather is relative and changes from group to group. In a similar way, I came to understand that conscience reacts in a very different way w h e n it has to do, not with belonging, but with a balance of giving and taking, and differently yet again w h e n it guards the roles and functions that shape my life together with others. B u t even more important is the difference between the conscience we feel and the conscience that works in our lives even though we are un- aware of it. This conscience reveals itself in the fact that w h e n we o b e y the conscience we feel, we injure the conscience we do not feel, and although we feel guilt-free, the unfelt conscience sets consequences upon our a c -
23. tions. T h e tension between these two forms of conscience is the basis of every tragedy, especially in families. It is behind painful entanglements, which sometimes lead to illness, accidents, and suicide. This tension is also the force behind many painful failures of relationship, when partnerships end in acrimony in spite of deep love. P s y c h o t h e r a p e u t i c p h e n o m e n o l o g y These insights were not achieved through philosophical perception and the application of phenomenological epistemology alone. T h e y required an- other approach, which I call understanding through participation. This path to insight is possible in family constellations when they are held with a phenomenological attitude. In a family constellation, a client chooses participants in the group at random to represent important family members, for example, for mother, father, and siblings. T h e client then places the representatives in spatial rela- tionship to one another. Through the constellation, hidden and surprising family dynamics suddenly may come to light. This means that the process of setting up a family constellation brings clients into contact with infor- mation that was previously hidden. For example, a colleague recently told about a constellation in which a representative's reaction clearly suggested that the client was identified with her father's early lover. T h e client asked her father and other relatives, but no one remembered a lover. Several weeks later, the client's father received a letter from Russia. A woman there who, during the war, had been the love of his life, had searched for his address for years, and finally with the new openness between Russia and Europe, had succeeded in finding him. But that is only one side of the story, the client's side. T h e other side is that, as soon as they are placed in a constellation, representatives feel as the persons they represent felt. Sometimes, they even feel their physical symp- toms. Some representatives have even known the person's name. Such things happen, even when the representatives know nothing about the per- sons they represent except their relationship to the client. These experi- ences in family constellations suggest that clients and their family members are connected to one another within a field of information that affects them by virtue of their presence in the field. And what is even more extra- ordinary, strangers who are placed as representatives in this field can also be connected to the family's reality. This is also true for therapists. T h e proviso is that therapists, representa- 5
24. tives, and clients be prepared to expose themselves to this knowing field without intention, without fear, and without the need to interpret their experiences in terms of previous theories and beliefs, and to consent to whatever emerges just as it is. This is the phenomenological posture applied to psychotherapy. Here, too, insight is w o n through restraint, through re- straining intention and fear, and through consenting to reality as it is. W i t h o u t this phenomenological posture, that is, without consenting to whatever emerges, without exaggeration, cosmetic minimalization, or inter- pretation, family constellations remain superficial and can easily lead to false conclusions. At best, they have little power. T h e soul E v e n more astonishing than the understanding that comes through partici- pation in the knowing field, or what I prefer to call the soul that extends beyond and guides the individual, is the observation that this field actively seeks and finds resolutions. These resolutions go far beyond what we could achieve with analytic thought, and they have effects far beyond what we could achieve with well-planned action. This becomes clear in those c o n - stellations in which the therapist practices utmost restraint For example, w h e n a therapist places the essential persons in the constellation, and then, without giving them any instructions, entrusts them to an irresistible force, which moves them as if from outside, and which leads to insights and e x - periences that otherwise would have been impossible. For example, at the end of a recent constellation in Switzerland, a man told that he was Jewish. I added seven representatives for victims of the Holocaust to the constellation, with seven representatives for their murder- ers standing behind them. For the next quarter of an hour, in complete si- lence, an unbelievable process developed between the victims and the mur- derers that made clear that dying is a process that seeks completion long after physical death. Dying is complete when victims and perpetrators j o i n in death and k n o w themselves to be equally vulnerable to forces beyond their control, and when, in the end, they experience themselves at rest in the care of those forces. R e l i g i o u s p h e n o m e n o l o g y Here the levels of philosophic and psychotherapeutic phenomenology are replaced by a more encompassing one in which we experience ourselves 6
25. to be at the mercy of a greater whole. We recognize this greater whole as being ultimate and final. We could call this level religious or spiritual, but even here, I remain in the phenomenological posture, without intention, without fear, without preferences, pure in the presence of whatever comes. I will describe what this means for religious insight and religious fulfillment in a final story. It is called: Turning back A man is born into his country, into his culture, into his family. Even as a child, stories enchant him about the one who was their prophet and lord, and he deeply longs to become like his ideal. He enters a long period of training until he is fully identified with his ideal, until he thinks and speaks and acts like him. But one last thing, he thinks, is missing. And so he sets out on a long jour- ney into the most secluded loneliness where he hopes to cross the final barrier. On his way, he passes old gardens, long abandoned. Wild roses still bloom un- seen, and the fruit that tall trees bear each year falls unnoticed to the earth. No one is there to gather it. He walks on. He reaches the edge of the desert. Soon he is surrounded by an unknown emptiness. He realizes that in this desert, he could choose any direction he might wish — the emptiness remains the same. He sees that the great loneliness of this place has emptied all illusions in his mind's eye that would have led him onto any particular path. And so he wanders on just where chance takes him, until one day, long after he has stopped trusting his senses, he is surprised to see water in front of him, bubbling out of the earth. He watches it flow a little way until the desert sands soak it up again, but as far as the water reaches, the desert blooms like paradise. Still deep in wonder, he looks around and sees afar two strangers drawing near. They too have done what he had done. Each of them had followed his prophet and lord until he had become almost identical with him. They too set cut as he had done into the desert wastes, hoping to cross the final barrier. And they too at last had reached that spring. Then the three of them bend down together to drink the same water, and each feels his goal to be within his reach. Then they reveal their names, "I have become Gautama, the Buddha." "I have become Jesus, the Christ." "I have become Mohammed, the Prophet." 7
26. At last the night descends upon them, and they see the heavens Jill with shining stars, as silent and as utterly remote as ever. They are struck dumb, and one of them senses for a moment how his lord must have felt as he came to know the impotence, the futility, and the submission — and he senses too how he must have felt as he understood the inescapability of his guilt. He knows he has gone too far. So he waits for dawn, and he turns home- ward, and eventually escapes the desert. Once again he passes the abandoned gardens until at last he stops before that garden he knows to be his own. An old man is standing by the gate, as if awaiting him. He says, a If someone has found his way home from as far away as you have done, he loves the moist and fertile earth. He knows that all that grows will die and in dying nourishes what lives." The wanderer replies, "Now I follow the laws of the earth." Then he begins to husband his garden with care. 8
27. E N T A N G L E M E N T S A N D T H E I R R E S O L U T I O N From an Advanced Training Course for Helping Professionals
28. T H E F I R S T D A Y T h e o p e n i n g r o u n d HELLINGER: W e l c o m e to the workshop. I'd like to begin by asking each of you in turn to introduce yourself by telling me and the group: • your name • your profession • your family situation • and something about the problem you want to work on during this workshop. We will start looking for solutions to problems as soon as they present themselves, and we will witness the effects of each step on the persons concerned. If you have any questions about the procedure, the results, or the basic principles of the work, I will do my best to answer them. A d o p t i o n is risky CARL: My name is Carl. I live with my wife and our young adopted son. We have two children of our own, 26 and 32 years old, w h o no longer live at home. We also have three foster daughters w h o are n o w in their late 20s or early 30s. O u r adopted son is the son of one of our foster daughters. I'm a pastoral counselor, and I work with handicapped chil- dren and their families. Last year you made me aware that my work, up until then, had not been particularly effective because I had tended to see the young people primarily either in terms of their handicaps or as iso- lated individuals. I n o w realize that it is virtually impossible to help a child unless the family is aware of the problem and you work with the family as well. HELLINGER: M a y b e you should annul the adoption. Have you considered that? CARL: Annul the adoption? HELLINGER: M a y b e that's what you need to do. CARL: I can't imagine doing that. HELLINGER: Y o u have no right to claim the child as your own. Adoption is a dangerous business. I've often seen that people w h o adopt a child without a really pressing reason pay dearly for it, either by losing a child 11
29. of their o w n or by losing the partner. It's as if they sacrifice them as compensation. W h o wanted the adoption? CARL: My wife and I both did. HELLINGER: W h y isn't the child with his mother? CARL: His mother came to us with her 4-month-old child and left him in our care because she wanted to live with some friends. HELLINGER: That's peculiar. It would have been a service to take on the child as a foster son, but I'm not sure whose needs are met by the adoption. T h e child's needs would have been met with a good foster h o m e , so maybe the adoption is carrying things too far. CARL: I find that difficult to understand at the moment, particularly since the child can continue his relationship with his mother just as it was before the adoption. HELLINGER: His relationship with his mother can't be the same as it was before you adopted him because you've relieved his mother of her re- sponsibilities, and his father too. W h a t about him, by the way? CARL: His father is Turkish and is n o w living with his second wife, w h o is also Turkish. He has other children with her and has broken off the relationship with this child. HELLINGER: W h y can't the child go to his father? Are you afraid he will b e c o m e a Muslim? He should! CARL: He can as far as I am concerned. HELLINGER: T h a t definitely needs to be cleared up, why he can't go to his father. A good place for a boy is with his father. CARL: I must think about it. HELLINGER: Do you k n o w what happens w h e n you "think about it"? It's like the priest w h o said when he had finished his spiritual exercises: " D a m n it, after these exercises, it always takes me six weeks to get back into the rut."* R u l e s o f i n v o l v e m e n t BRIGITTE: My name is Brigitte. I am a psychologist in private practice. I have four daughters from my first marriage. I divorced my first husband, * This intervention may seem abrupt, but I was reacting to nonverbal cues that hinted at Carl's ambivalence, and his reaction later confirmed my intuition (see page 62). This is a good example of how knowledge of the conditions love requires helps to orient a therapist trying to understand the complexity of a client's communication. 12
30. w h o later died. I married again, and I have two stepdaughters from this marriage even though I keep my husband at a distance because I feel he drains my energy. I'm here to learn without exerting myself unduly. HELLINGER: T h e two aims are mutually exclusive. W h a t do y o u really want? BRIGITTE: I don't feel I could bear to get too deeply involved at the m o m e n t . HELLINGER: It's dangerous for anyone to take part in a workshop like this w h o is not ready to face up to the risk of personal involvement. It also inhibits intimacy for the others in the group. So I must warn you, it's not possible to take part in the w o r k we do here merely as an observer. BRIGITTE: That's not what I meant. B u t it's a very big group, and some of my students are a m o n g the participants. That's w h y I w o u l d like to keep a rather l o w profile. B u t I ' m prepared to do what's required in order to participate. HELLINGER: I've told you the conditions for being here, and you have understood them. B u t I would still like to tell you a story. More or less A professor of psychology in America sent for one of his students, gave him a dollar bill and a hundred dollar bill, and said: "Go into the waiting room. You will see two men sitting there. Give one of them the dollar and the other the hundred dollars." The student thought to himself, "Another of his crazy ideas!," but he took the money, went into the waiting room, and gave one of the men sitting there the dollar bill and the other the hundred. What he didn't know, however, was that the professor had already secretly told one of the men: "In a few minutes, someone will come and give you a hundred dollars," and the other: "In a few minutes, someone will come and give you one dollar." As luck would have it, the student gave the dollar bill to the man who had ex- pected a dollar, and the hundred dollar bill to the man who had expected a hundred. HELLINGER with a grin: Strange. N o w I'm wondering w h y I told that story. T h e d o u b l e d i s p l a c e m e n t CLAUDIA: My name is Claudia. I ' m a psychologist, and I w o r k as a psy- chotherapist and as an expert witness on family affairs in legal cases. I also 13
31. give courses for people whose driving licenses have been revoked and w h o have been ordered by the courts to undergo counseling in order to get them back. I'm divorced, and I'm rather embarrassed about this b e - cause I was married for only six months. I don't really consider myself to have been either married or divorced. HELLINGER: Y o u were married, you can't escape that fact. Have you any children? CLAUDIA: N o , no children. HELLINGER: W h y did you get divorced? CLAUDIA: Because it was dreadful. We hadn't k n o w n each other very long, and we decided comparatively quickly to get married, and then I felt it was terrible. HELLINGER: Y o u felt it was terrible? W h a t about your husband? CLAUDIA: I did my best to make it terrible for him too. HELLINGER: And which angry woman from your family system were you imitating? CLAUDIA: My mother, definitely. HELLINGER: Let's look for someone else. T h e question is: W h i c h w o m a n in your family of origin was justifiably angry with a man? W h e n s o m e - thing like you have described happens, the dynamics of a double dis- placement are often at the bottom of it. Do you k n o w what that is? CLAUDIA: N o . HELLINGER: I'll give you an example. During a course given by Jirina Prekop in which she was demonstrating "holding therapy," a w o m a n felt an irrational hatred of her husband. Jirina instructed the couple to hold each other closely. Suddenly the woman's face changed and she became furious with her husband. I said to Jirina: " L o o k h o w her face has changed. Y o u can tell with w h o m she is identified from her expression." She had suddenly taken on the appearance of an 80-year-old woman (she herself was only 3 5 ) . T h e n I said to the woman: "Pay attention to the expression on your face! W h o had a face like that?" She replied: " M y grandmother." " W h a t happened to your grandmother?" I asked. " S h e ran a restaurant, and my grandfather used to drag her around by her hair in front of all the patrons. And she put up with it." Can you imagine h o w the grandmother really felt? She was furious with her husband but she didn't express it, and n o w her granddaughter had taken over her repressed anger. That was a displacement of the sub- j e c t , from the grandmother to the granddaughter. B u t instead of making her grandfather the target of her anger, she took it out on her husband. 14
32. This was a displacement of the object, from the grandfather to the hus- band. It was a less dangerous outlet for this woman because her husband loved her enough to tolerate it. That's what's known as a double dis- placement. But neither she nor her husband was aware of what was really going on. Did anything like that happen in your family? CLAUDIA: I don't know. HELLINGER: If something similar did happen, you would owe your hus- band a lot. CLAUDIA: Hmm. HELLINGER: Exactly. Claudia laughs. HELLINGER: Did that strike home? CLAUDIA: Not really. But I was just thinking that I'm glad my husband's okay. HELLINGER: That's what happens when you feel guilty. But we'll have to find out if what I have said is true when we work in more detail. At the moment, it's just a hunch. T h e f i r s t w o m a n GERTRUDE: My name is Gertrude. I am a doctor in general practice. I'm single, and I have a son who is nearly 19. HELLINGER: What about his father? GERTRUDE: My son hasn't seen him for about five years. HELLINGER: What is his father's situation? GERTRUDE: He's married and they have three children. About five years ago, he had a daughter by another woman. But that's their problem. I haven't spoken to him for five years. HELLINGER: Was he married when you got to know him? GERTRUDE: He's been married three times. He was married when we became close, I think it was for the second time. They were at the point of getting divorced. Actually, we had been together at school, but then we went our separate ways. He went to live in in another city, and he got married there. The second time he married as a favor, to make it possible for the woman to get out of Hungary. Then he divorced her and married for the third time. HELLINGER: You cannot marry someone as a favor without its having consequences. Did you have an intimate relationship with him before he married for the first time? 15
33. G E R T R U D E : Y e s . H E L L I N G E R : T h e n y o u are his first w o m a n . Y o u have priority over all the others. Isn't that a g o o d feeling? G E R T R U D E : Y e s , but it's difficult. H E L L I N G E R : W h a t ' s so difficult about it? G E R T R U D E : I don't care about it. N o t any m o r e . H E L L I N G E R : B e i n g the first doesn't depend o n feelings. G E R T R U D E : O h ? H E L L I N G E R : It's a fact that exists independently o f feelings. Happiness needs courage H E L L I N G E R : I'll tell y o u something about happiness. Often, happiness seems dangerous because it tends to make people lonely. T h e same is true of solutions to problems. Solutions are often experienced as danger- ous because they may make people lonely, whereas problems and unhap- piness seem to attract company. Problems and unhappiness often attach themselves to feelings of i n n o c e n c e and loyalty, whereas solutions and happiness are often associated with feelings of betrayal and guilt. N o t that such feelings of guilt are reasonable, but they are experienced as betrayal and guilt all the same. That's w h y the transition from the problem to the solution is so difficult. B u t if what I've said to you just n o w is true, and if y o u accept it as such, you'll have to change your w h o l e orientation. A S O N ' S U N C O N S C I O U S I D E N T I F I C A T I O N W I T H HIS M O T H E R ' S F A V O R I T E B R O T H E R H A R R Y : I am trying to get used to this concentration on family relation- ships. My name is Harry. I am a management consultant, and I'm also w o r k i n g on a dissertation on the philosophy of religion. I live alone. I have t w o daughters from my first marriage. I did marry a second time, but I've b e e n separated from my second wife for the past seven years. W e ' r e still married and my wife and I m e e t o n c e a year. My daughters are 30 and 27 years old. H E L L I N G E R : A n d what do y o u want to achieve here? H A R R Y : I'd like to gain some insight into h o w involved I should get in human relationships of any kind. I have b e c o m e very m u c h of a loner, and I have the feeling that I am missing something because of it. I have a great surplus of love and I don't k n o w what to do with it. 16
34. HELLINGER: W e ' l l set up your family of origin. Have y o u ever set up a family constellation, and do you k n o w h o w it is done? H A R R Y : N o t according to any particular scheme, but I've thought out a sort o f framework. HELLINGER: W h e n people think out a framework like y o u have, it only serves as a defense, and so does most of what they tell a therapist about their problems. It only starts to be serious w h e n they actually set up their constellation. O k a y , w h o could represent your father? H A R R Y : R o b e r t could, because . . . HELLINGER: Y o u don't have to explain y o u r reasons for choosing s o m e - one. H o w many siblings have you? HARRY: T w o , and one half sister. B u t I didn't g r o w up with my half sister. HELLINGER: W h o s e child was she? H A R R Y : M y father's. HELLINGER: W a s he married before? H A R R Y : N o , afterward. He married again after the divorce, and then my half sister was born. My m o t h e r did not marry again. HELLINGER: W h o is your parents' first child? HARRY: I am. HELLINGER: W a s either of your parents previously married or engaged or involved in a close relationship? H A R R Y : N o . B u t m y m o t h e r would have preferred another man, w h o then b e c a m e my godfather. HELLINGER: W e ' l l need him. Is there anyone else important? H A R R Y : My mother's brother is extremely important. HELLINGER: W h a t happened with him? H A R R Y : My m o t h e r really wanted to live with him, and she tried to model me after him. HELLINGER: Is he a minister or something of that sort? H A R R Y : N o . He was a famous actor. HELLINGER: Y o u r m o t h e r wanted to live with him? H A R R Y : Y e s . S h e really preferred him to my father. HELLINGER: W e ' l l go into that later on. First of all, we'll set up a family constellation with your father, your mother, your siblings, y o u r father's second wife, your half sister, and the man w h o m your m o t h e r w o u l d have preferred. C h o o s e s o m e o n e from the group to represent each per- son: m e n for m e n or boys, w o m e n for w o m e n or girls. T h e n place t h e m in relationship to each other according to what feels right to y o u at the m o m e n t . Put your m o t h e r at the correct distance from y o u r father, for 17
35. example, and turn her to face the way you feel is right. Do it without talking, from your center and in contact with your feelings at the m o - ment, otherwise it w o n ' t work. Harry sets up the constellation of his family of origin. HELLINGER: N o w walk around the constellation and make any corrections that m a y be necessary. T h e n sit down where you have a g o o d v i e w of the constellation. In the following graphics, males are represented by squares, and females by circles, for example: 18 The symbols for the persons who are setting up the constellation or for whom the constellation is being set up are shaded, and their identifications in the leg- end are printed in hold type. The notches show the directions in which the per- sons are facing. Where not otherwise noted, the subsequent questions are addressed to the rep- resentatives of the persons in the constellations, who also answer in the roles of the persons they are representing. For unknown reasons, representatives often experience strong physical and emotional reactions in constellations that they feel to be connected to the persons they represent. Tliose reactions guide the work, and when they lead to good resolutions for the client, we assume that the reactions do reflect to some degree the hidden family dynamics. It is important not to make assumptions about the reactions beyond their ability to facilitate resolution.
36. Diagram 1 F Father M Mother 1 First child, a son (= Harry) 2 Second child, a daughter 3 Third child, a son 2W Father's second wife 4 Fourth child, daughter of the husband's second marriage MPP Mother's preferred partner HELLINGER: H o w is the father feeling? FATHER: I feel very isolated here. My previous family is far away, and there is something behind me that I can't see. HELLINGER: H o w is the m o t h e r feeling? M O T H E R : I have contact with my former husband. B e f o r e that I felt para- lyzed, turned in on myself. HELLINGER: H o w are y o u feeling now? M O T H E R : I feel helpless. Incapable of action. HELLINGER: A n d what do y o u feel about the other man, Harry's g o d - father? M O T H E R : He is standing behind m e , but he's also breathing d o w n my neck. I have m i x e d feelings about him. MOTHER'S PREFERRED PARTNER: I also have m i x e d feelings. I am at- tracted to her and I like her, and I have a relationship with her. B u t I 19
37. don't feel it's g o o d within this framework. I feel rigid and incapable of moving. HELLINGER: H o w do the others feel? FIRST CHILD: W h e n I was put here, I had the feeling that s o m e o n e was going to grab me, strangely enough, by my calves. T h e r e was a feeling of warmth. It also feels as if a dog might be going to bite m e . It's a warm feeling, but dangerous as well. T h e r e ' s a certain warmth going out from me toward my father, but it doesn't seem to reach him. I have virtually no contact with my siblings behind m e . My father's second wife and my half sister don't seem important. SECOND CHILD: I felt fine w h e n my mother was standing next to me as the constellation was being set up. N o w I don't feel so good. T H I R D CHILD: I can see my parents, but I can't make up my mind what to do. I feel drawn toward my father, but I can't leave my present position. SECOND WIFE: I am wondering w h y my husband doesn't turn round and face m e . HELLINGER: H o w is the half sister feeling? F O U R T H CHILD: At first I felt excluded, and I experienced my father as threatening. I've b e e n feeling better since my mother came and stood b e - hind m e . B u t my father is standing in my way. F I R S T CHILD: Since I've b e e n standing here, the front part of my body has g r o w n quite warm, as if my batteries had b e e n recharged, and I feel I'd like to grab at something. HELLINGER to Harry: N o w add your mother's brother to the constellation. 20
38. Diagram 2 MB Mother's brother H E L L I N G E R : W h a t has changed? F I R S T C H I L D : I am drawn to the left, toward my mother's brother, and I am wondering what he's doing there. W h a t does he want? H E L L I N G E R : D o you feel better or worse? F I R S T C H I L D : T h e energy I had before is draining off toward the left. I feel torn. It's not good. There's still some energy going toward my father. Everything behind me seems to be highly charged, and some energy is going off toward the left. M O T H E R ' S B R O T H E R : I don't really k n o w what I am supposed to be doing here. . M O T H E R : I feel enclosed. H E L L I N G E R : And how! M O T H E R : Yes. She laughs. H E L L I N G E R to Harry: W a s he married, the actor? H A R R Y : N O . And he's been dead for some time. Hellinger rearranges the constellation. 21
39. Diagram 3 HELLINGER: What has changed for the second wife? SECOND WIFE: I like seeing them all standing there. I have the feeling it right like this. FIRST CHILD: Suddenly, everything seems clear. This is a good place to be FATHER: I can n o w turn toward my present family more comfortably. Hellinger changes the constellation again. He asks the mother's preferred partner to leave the constellation because he no longer seems to be important. 22
40. Diagram 4 H E L L I N G E R : H o w is that for the father? FATHER: I feel fine like this. I can l o o k at my first wife. My marriage with her was an unsuccessful attempt. My n e w relationship feels right to m e , and it feels g o o d to have my children so close. H E L L I N G E R : H o w do the others feel? THIRD CHILD: I would like to have m o r e contact with my mother. SECOND CHILD: Here in the circle it's okay. F I R S T CHILD: I feel fine. Suddenly m y half sister and her m o t h e r seem to belong. I don't mind my mother's going away. MOTHER: I would like to be able to see my children. MOTHER'S B R O T H E R : I feel fine here. I'd like to do something, something spontaneous. H E L L I N G E R to Harry: W h a t do y o u think about this constellation? H A R R Y : W e l l , I can't recognize the actual situation in it at all. B u t that's probably not the point. It could have b e e n a g o o d solution if everyone had agreed to it. B u t it never happened, so it seems Utopian to m e . H E L L I N G E R : Commentaries like this often serve only to t h r o w doubt o n the solution. All I wanted to k n o w was h o w y o u feel w h e n y o u l o o k at the constellation. H A R R Y : I am not very enthusiastic about it. B u t I can't help feeling: " W h a t a pity it wasn't like that." Perhaps I really shouldn't say anything at all. 23
41. Hellinger turns the mother and her brother around so that they are facing the family, and places the mother on the left of her brother so that she is standing closer to her children. Diagram 5 H E L L I N G E R to the people in the constellation: Is that better o r worse? F I R S T C H I L D : W a r m e r . S E C O N D CHILD.- W o r s e . M O T H E R : It's b e t t e r for m e . M O T H E R ' S B R O T H E R : For m e too. H E L L I N G E R to the group: Well, this w o m a n certainly took her husband for a ride. She never really wanted him. That's w h y she ought to turn around and face the other way. She has forfeited her chance of facing in his direction. Hellinger turns the mother and her brother around again and places the mother behind her brother. 24
42. Diagram 6 HELLINGER to the people in the constellation: How's that? MOTHER: It feels right like this. HELLINGER: Exactly. to the group: N o w you can see with w h o m Harry is identified. N o w his mother is standing in exactly the same relationship to her brother as she was standing to her oldest son in the first constellation. Harry is identified with her brother. F I R S T CHILD: I feel a shudder running up and down my spine, and the words "Poor Mother!" came into my mind. HELLINGER to the group: There is a drama being acted out in this family that neither the husband nor the children can influence. We don't k n o w why it's happening, but there's nothing we can do about it either. T h e only solution for Harry is to stand next to his father. HELLINGER to Harry: W o u l d you like to go and stand in your place? HARRY: Yes. Harry stands in his place in the family constellation. HELLINGER to the group: Here we see that love follows set laws to which relationships must conform if they are to succeed. Any deviation causes disorder and problems that can only be overcome by compliance, and not, for example, by love alone. 25
43. to Harry: This constellation offers an image of resolution to what's going on in your family. N o w I will tell you what to do with this image. T h e image of your family you've been carrying around in your mind up until n o w was an image that caused disorder and pain. We have rearranged it and shown you a good solution for all concerned. N o w you have the chance to superimpose the new image onto the old one. If you manage to do this, you will be a changed person, without anyone else having to change. Y o u will be different because you will be carrying an image of your family in your mind and heart that will enable you to relate to the members of your family quite differently. In the position that you were in at the start, identified with someone you
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