by Humberto del Pozo, September 1999, Santiago Chile (translated from Spanish)
What is the family psyche?
Bert Hellinger: We observe when we work with the family that they are driven by a common principle or force, and I call that a family consciousness. We can observe that a circumscribed number of people are subject to unconscious drives to behave in a certain way. If in a family one member has been excluded or forgotten, for example a child that died early, and is no longer counted among the siblings, then later on, in the next generation only, another member takes up the same fate of that child.
This person then wants to die, with nobody knowing why.
And we do a family constellation. That means that in a group, a person selects representatives for the members of his family – including one for himself –and places them in relationship to one another, following only his own intuition. And as soon as those people have taken up their places, they feel like the people they represent, without knowing them. So by means of the Family Constellation, we get a real picture of what is going on in the family.
How does this therapy work for the unconscious behaviors you mentioned?
Bert Hellinger: Let’s say in this example, the person selects a person for his father, mother, his/her siblings and one for himself. Then he sets them up in a space, and they are all looking in one direction. That is very strange. So when we see that, we know immediately somebody has been forgotten or excluded.
Then they suddenly remember, “Oh Yes! There was a sister who was handicapped and died after three months…”
Then I select a representative for the dead sister and I place her in front of the others. And they all feel relieved, for she can now be included. And another child who has later became ill, for instance, of diabetes, has now a greater chance to deal with that illness in a positive way. Continue reading Unraveling Family Secrets: An Interview with Bert Hellinger on Family Constellations