Translated by Katja Schütt and Alan Schmukler
All homeopaths know “hopeless cases“. We believe that these cases carry an (unconscious) key within themselves to remain hopeless, as if they express a kind of loyalty or attachment to their failure. With the systemic perspective we can find access to this key and the hidden attachment to disease or misfortune.
This attachment becomes visible in family constellations. Administering the correct remedy allows movement in the whole system, which alleviates the patient or makes a solution possible. Sometimes the constellation reveals that another member of the family needs the remedy and not the client himself. When the client takes the remedy, knowing that his father is actually in the need of this remedy, then he takes something from the father, or one could even say, that he takes the father.
In our practice we work together on each case, one as homoepath and the other as a systemic family therapist, which allows us to converge both perspectives. We noticed during our work that both therapies fit each other well, and that homeopathy actually developed from a systemic philosophy. It is not used as a systemic healing method because the user sticks to his linear thinking – to the principle of cause and effect. This is a loss, because the systemic perspective can save many detours and provide security in the complex area of homeopathy. In homeopathy, systemic family constellations are often only used as a working instrument. But this does not necessarily imply a change in attitude. Systemic work first of all, means adopting an attitude which views disease and cure not only in the family connection of cause and effect, but makes connections between the individual and a larger whole.
That which is excluded, is the key.
Everything belongs to the system. The system needs completeness. However human nature and society sometimes refuses this completeness. For example, inheritance rights have been refused to illegitimate children in the past, and possibly still today. Many religions claim their exclusive validity and refuse others. Moral and social rules dictate excluding those people from society who violate prevailing law. Also attitudes, actions or persons, which don’t fit the value system, can be excluded. For example people with homosexual tendencies are often excluded from the family, as are those who drink too much, or create problems in the family. Often they are called the black sheep and they are seen as threats to the current system. Excluding them is done to provide safety. But the system perspective “thinks“ differently and brings that which is excluded back into the system through the back door – with the desire for completeness.
The child that includes that which is excluded.
A single mother comes into the practice with her son. He lies, betrays and steals. She did not bring him with her, as she did not want the conflict to escalate.She wants a remedy for him. Exhausted she describes the problem.
M: Currently I only have conflicts with my son. The worst is that I have lost my patience. He behaves terribly and I immediately become angry. I could freak out when looking at him. I fear he could end like his father.
H: How did his father end?
M: We separated because he only lied and betrayed me. He drank a lot and took several drugs. He stole from me and all the others. He could not stop and all the time I was taken in by his lies, again and again. He does not have contact with us anymore. I did not want this. I don’t know where he is currently. Now my son also has started drinking and telling me lies, which makes me furious.
H: Please tell me more about your son’s father.
M: He was born illegitimately and given up for adoption by his young mother. I met him while on vacation in India. He was a good looking, charismatic man. He was intelligent, but somewhat odd and manipulative. At that time I liked his odd side, because I knew my parents wouldn’t like it. He also took drugs, which was quite fascinating for me at that time, because it was thought to be spiritual and to expand consciousness. My parents found this all impossible.
A little systemic work with the empty chair displays her rejection of the child’s father. It becomes obvious that the son represents the father in the system. The son represents that which is excluded.
H: Then the behavior of the father, of your separated spouse, reappears in your son as if he were present.
M: I don’t like that at all.
H: In this way your son unconsciously includes his father, who is not given a place by yourself, in the family… although, or even because you have done everything to prevent this.
M: What shall I do?
H: Give this man a place in the family. Anyway, he has a place – one which does not do good in the moment.
M: This man never did any good.
H: I don’t believe this. I have heard before, that there was a time when this was different. It is your pain, your disappointment about this man – but he remains the father of your son. If this man would not have been, your son would not exist. He also had some good aspects. Why is it not allowed for both to exist – the good and the bad? Of course, it is because you are angry with him. But this has nothing to do with your son. This is your pain and disappointment. How does your son look at him…at a father who is only bad. And what does this mean for him? Maybe this part of him is bad, like his father who does not have anything good. It is bad for him that things went this way then.
M: (The mother is weeping.) I was angry about you for a long time. Now this can come to an end. Now I leave you in peace and give you into the hands of your fate.
We prescribe Lachesis 30C for the mother. She loved the man because he was odd, charismatic and was a provocation for her parents, a provocation which she did not want to show openly by herself.
The following symptoms point to the remedy:
Mind, deceitful, sly
Mind, morphinism, drug addiction (Katja : I thought this was the father’s symptom?)
Mind, kleptomania (Katja : I thought this was the father’s symptom?)
Mind, insolence, impertinence
Mind, contradict, disposition to
After eight weeks the conflicts diminished considerably, and mother and son were in a good relationship. The father again got a place in the family, which made the son free. He can become like his father or different. But if the father is excluded then the boy “has“ to become like his father, because he undertakes the task in the system to include the excluded part. The mother bears the key. Therefore she gets the remedy to accept the father. Today she hates the traits which she loved at a former time – a dynamic which is often found in relationships.
For homeopaths who treat themselves, it is always worthwhile to consider the remedy that they actually considered for their partner. Here also it is to accept what is being excluded from oneself… and allow it to remain in the partner.
The family anamnesis is an inherent part of the homeopathic anamnesis. The expansion in systemic terms, means asking for a fate other than the disease. Losing one’s home, early deceased siblings and accidents can play an important role. However, this only becomes important if there is a connection to the current symptoms and life conditions. The family history often allows us to draw conclusions about the possible dynamic of the client.
There are cases where children or adult clients describe certain symptoms, anxieties or perceptions which cannot be explained within their life and present biography. Why does a little child fear dark hairs? Why does a child paint war pictures although he has never been in the war? Why does a child who has grown up in secure conditions, dream of being persecuted and murdered? Why does a child have delusions of wild animals when having a fever? We can consider them unconnected and translate into repertorization rubrics. Or, we can see them as hints for a systemic relation and follow this trail, checking to see whether they offer possibilities to strengthen the client, provide a deeper cure, or help us find the central remedy. Often these symptoms are caused by family traumas or history, which are blocked or forgotten because they were too painful. The child won’t express the experience again. We can include the symptoms and occurrences of the original history, as our client is like the receiver of a radio program, the receiver of an old, unsolved story, who becomes alive through him… and which can be cured and resolved through him.
Case: Sina is suffering from chronic cough
A mother comes to my practice with her two daughters. Sina is four years old and has suffered from a cough since the age of six months. It is a dry, irritative cough, which sometimes aggravates until she vomits mucus. The cough causes retching, but she does not always vomit.
Mother: So it is during the day and night, sometimes less sometimes more, but it never disappears completely. She had a club foot when she was a baby and went on her tiptoes for a long time. At home we have become accustomed to her cough, but the teachers in the kindergarten frequently ask me to do something. I have already given her everything possible. I don’t know what to do anymore. ——–
In this case we first made the usual anamnesis including her family anamnesis and could not discover any connections with the cough. We started treatment with the remedies listed in the rubric “Stomach, vomiting, mucus“ and had given almost all the remedies over time, without any success. There was only a slight amelioration but never a real, permanent cure. After giving Thuja, the following situation was present: The mother made an appointment for her daughter Anna and brought both daughters with her into the practice. When I wanted to examine Anna, her four year old sister positioned before her with her legs apart, fixed me staying with her hands on her hips and said: “No. Nobody will touch my sister!”
There was no chance to examine Anna as Sina was fighting like a desperate animal for her young. We again asked for the family history, but could not find any useful information. With the mother’s permission we made a family constellation in a supervision group. Sina’s deputy put herself on her tiptoes and started coughing without telling them these symptoms.
Scene from the family constellation
Dep.: Abbreviation for deputy
Dep. Sina: Everything is so terrible! I want to scream but I can only cough. That pisses me off. I have to be careful; danger seems to be everywhere.
A another woman and man are placed into the field. The deputy woman immediately goes to the ground, the deputy man stands before the lying woman and is looking to Sina‘s deputy.
Dep. Sina: It makes me anxious that the woman is lying there, but the man even causes more anxiety. First I thought I could trust him, but now I know that I cannot trust anybody here. I would like best to steal away and scream, but I fear to be seen and that the same happens to me as to the woman. Everything around me seems to be huge and threatening.
Mind – delusions – danger, of
Mind – hide, desire to
After doing this constellation we prescribed Stramonium 1M.
We again review the case completely and find a seemingly unimportant symptom which the mother had mentioned casually : “ She doesn’t like men with dark hair…“.
We tell the mother about the occurrences of the family constellation and make no further interpretations. She cannot see an inner picture that fits the constellation.
Three days later the mother calls me to tell me that the daughter woke up screaming during the last three nights and could not be calmed down. She also weeps when sleeping. The cough is unchanged. This all seems weird to the mother and she fears that the condition remains. We calm her and ask her to wait. After a week the nightly screams and the cough slowly get better. After the repetition of Stramonium 1M the screaming and cough disappear completely. We will never know what caused these symptoms, which is not really of importance.
Curiosity and zealousness of the therapist
Often we believe we have to know exactly everything to understand the case and find the remedy, and adhere to the part of the anamnesis which is accessible to our daily consciousness. However, considering dreams allows us to consider the revelations of the unconsciousness. The information gained from family constellations also lies beyond the consciousness and imagination of the client. They reflect the connections which the client cannot tell us, a for example in Sina’s case. It is not important to know which person was lying on the floor and who the man was; whether he killed the woman or how the situation could be interpreted. We don’t know this and nobody knows the exact history of the past. It is sufficient to tell the mother what has happened during the constellation, without valuation or interpretation. It is important to understand Tina’s dynamic. Often this information helps finding the remedy. More than this we don’t need to know. If we can’t gain access to the case, Thuja is often a useful remedy to bring light into the darkness.
As soon as the therapist feels zealous to solve something and the urge to find a solution, he is challenged by the feeling which he had when he was a child, and which reappears now. Maybe it is the feeling of “Mama, I help you to assert yourself against Papa”, or the desire “To help Papa with his sadness.” Then the helper loses the focus. His curiosity and zealousness increase and let him ask for things which are not necessary to find a solution. He gets a closer relationship with the client than necessary to find a solution. This means disrespecting the client, because it is not about ourselves. So zealousness is somewhat infantile and often becomes immoderate. As zealousness makes us blind, we may invade into something where respect would be necessary, going beyond boundaries although moving in certain boundaries – always turning in a circle. The therapist needs a certain attitude towards the client. He has to respect others’ differences, and that they are woven into their patterns of fate, from which result different requirements and limits (Hellinger 2005). Those who are zealous are pretentious. They take something in their hands and conduct with the purpose to control something. Their zeal defies the boundaries of the client, and the way he is integrated into his life. By doing this the therapist makes himself bigger than he should be, considering the system into which he intrudes. Finally, the pretentiousness will overstrain him. It will go beyond his powers, as he does not respect the boundaries.
Also those who are zealous deserve our attention; we look at them with respect – from a certain distance. But curiosity and intention disturb the impact of the solution: Do I ask for the effect of a remedy to know whether I was helpful, or do I give the patient and remedy room to act? I take my place calmly and wait for the development of the case, looking in the direction shown by the remedy, and putting my zest for action and zeal aside. As soon as I focus on myself, thinking, “I want to help and have to be successful“, I influence the system, the client and homeopath, and therefore the impact of the remedy.
The story of the lost key
A bent over man seems to be looking for something on the street. Another man comes along and asks what he is looking for. He answers that he has lost his key. After looking with him for the key by the light of the lantern, the other man asks him, whether he has lost the key here. The seeker answers “no“ and continues searching for the key. The other man is confused and replies: “Why do you look for the key here by the light of the lantern if you have lost it elsewhere? “The seeker answers: “Because here is the most light.“ (Carriére 1998).
With systemic work we have the chance to find the key in the dark as it sheds light on the connections which we would never have known using the classical homeopathic anamnesis.
Carriére J-C: Der Kreis der Lügner. 1. Auflage München Zürich: Diana-Verlag; 1998: 259; 384
Knorr M: Aufstellungsarbeit in sozialen und pädagogischen Berufsfeldern – Die andere Art des Helfens. 1. Aufl. Heidelberg: Carl-Auer-Systeme Verlag; 2004: 103-106
Knorr M, Grüter K: Stationäre Unterbringung im Heim. In: Zander B, Knorr M: Systemische Praxis der Erziehungs- und Familienberatung. 1. Aufl. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht; 2003: 122- 138
This article was published in: Systemische Homöopathie mit Familienaufstellungen – Lösungswege für unlösbare Fälle: Vieten T; Knorr M; Haug Verlag; Oktober 2010
@ republication with friendly permission of the author and publisher.