Hellinger’s task is about spiritual reconciliation.
Amongst the many reasons why reconciliation is so
important: It plays an essential role in healing psychosis.
peace is re-established we can start again, we can make
Constellations revealed a common error. We assume we are
assume that what goes on inside us is ours personally. Each one
of us is unique, yes, but how many other individuals make
themselves felt, heard, even seen, from inside us, this is a big question.
For only in our physical appearance are we individuals,
beneath that we are so deeply connected to so
many people, and so many traits of theirs are alive in us!
are the people down our ancestors’ line, but also our
incarnations’ line, where each one comes with a crowd of
ancestors as well. So how can we tell what is ours
we find is that we are very complex in our soul. Complex
often in a burdened sense, whilst many issues are not
reconciled. Many of our “personal” traits settle down,
as the people who created them in us are reconciled. We
become more and more empty, and free, free to love.
of Bert Hellinger’s great achievements: His unravelling of
the Psychotic puzzle in a way that can actually cure it. It
can happen, as usual, through reconciliation.
even more, the ancient Greeks already knew about the origin of
Psychoses. The other people who knew
about them were the old women in the villages, in Russia for
instance. My explanation of why they understood it, is:
“They saw the beginnings of it.” Where people live in
peaceful harmony there is no need for psychosis, for there
are no dark secrets. So psychosis shows us what we need to
do in our normal life also.
is a field that has a big part of my interest, as in
psychosis we can see the issues very clearly: the key lies
in healing the past.
Memories of traumatic events may fade into silence, or as
they did in the past, into fairytales, folklore songs, and
myths that can hardly be deciphered. But the memories are
also kept alive in the distorted recall of some people, who
are then called psychotic, and also in a range of symptoms in many family members. These
people hold the key to so much in our soul.
psychotic people are at the extreme end of the line. They
can be possessed to a degree where they are unable to relate
to their environment. Other people cannot understand what is
going on inside them, and they themselves can’t understand
it either. Too much is going on at once. It can be very
terrifying. At times they have very little of a shared world
with other human beings, even less than it seems. If
are not understood and helped to regain clarity, they and
their families suffer greatly, but if they are helped, their
healing brings healing to many others also. Many souls can
then benefit from the healing of the event about which they
have had some subconscious knowledge. This can have reached
them through voices, visions, even smells and distorted
sensations and unusual physical complaints.
Greek word Psychosis, and the old /Greek tragedies give it
away. Psych- means soul again, and – osis
means more of, even too much. So the person who expresses
psychotic behaviour is augmented by at least one other soul.
This invading soul is nearly always dead, and has no one to
tell the horrible secret that they must bear.
horrifying thing about it is that the psych-otic person can
be so deeply under the spell of the invading dead person,
and even persons, that they may feel forced to act out what the voice tells
them to do. A deeply psychotic person may be in an episode
where they can barely perceive any outer reality. There may be the voice of a murderer who feels guilty and is unable to
find a way to peace, and this ‘voice’ may tell its host,
to go and jump from a bridge, or to commit suicide in some
other way. Or the dead person is very angry with a murderer
and wants to kill him or her. This may also lead to murder.
Prisons are full of such murderers, and only recently is
there a beginning of an acknowledgment of this fact, at
least in Australia. Someone may express total despair. The best that psychotic murderers can
hope for is to be put on drugs that numb them so much that
they are rendered unable to harm others. It is also known
that murders and accidents happen again in places where they
occurred earlier on. This is something like a place-bound
psychosis that can overwhelm people who are vulnerable to
these impressions. Often the symptoms are quite clear. What
these psychotic people say, at least in the beginning,
points to the tragic event.
Psychosis can occur when something happened that was not
actually murder, but perhaps someone was accused of having
caused the death of another person. When someone comes to me
because of a psychotic relative, my first question is: What
was the first unusual behaviour, the first strange
statements this person made, the first talk about a voice.
person in severe psychosis has been drawn into a connection
with a covered- up murder, or something similarly
frightening. In outright psychosis we have the dead present
in a living person, even quite violently. And in the milder
direction we can broaden the topic even much wider than
that: Most people carry painful memories of people who died
a long time ago. In fact, we have no symptoms without real
events. Symptoms are the reminders of painful events.
Symptoms may be deceivingly harmless.
diagnosed as psychotic, or as I heard it often from
“diagnosed “ people, who introduced themselves to me:
‘I am a paranoid schizophrenic.’ This is a severe
verdict. This person is seen as dangerous, and they can be.
I think it is important not to diagnose psychosis versus not
psychosis, but rather as a
continuum of severe to very mild. We call it
psychotic when the communication is barely intelligible and
threatening, and the poor recipient suffers from massive
confusion, all the way to mixing up family members with some
other, dangerous people who need to be fought or killed. The
only way we can really help the psychotic person is to
befriend the souls of the people who were involved in the
traumatic, murderous event in the past.
means, these people are invaded by disincarnated souls.
actual, living person is hearing voices, seeing things, and
is tormented in many ways, so that they cannot find their
sense of identity whilst they are invaded. It is all the
more terrifying as nobody wants to hear what they hear
inside. Well, it is frightening and confusing to others as
well. Some religious people then want the “bad” spirits
to be cast out of the invaded person. This is the less
helpful version, as the restless soul will go elsewhere.
invasion is comparable to what happens when a person is
tormented badly by other people who are as alive as they are
human capacity that lets some people hear and feel very
distressed, confused, even violent souls,
is the same capacity as the one that allows us to
communicate with our ancestors.
we call psychosis is that which deals with dreaded events,
with dark secrets, with the victims and perpetrators
involved in it. Here, some people are witnessing on an inner
level what is still in turmoil. The murderers are not yet
regretting what they
did, the victims are still frightened and perhaps want to
take revenge, and to bring the secret to the attention of
the living, the perpetrators want to prevent that by any
means. So, where we have psychosis, one individual has to
bear and witness this turmoil, and even to act out both side
literally simultaneously. What a dreadful strain, most of
all on the psychotic person, but also on their family and
tires of relating to the poor recipient of this turmoil, and
resorts to chemical tranquillisers. Not being heard adds
another dimension of terror to the psychotic person. It is
called paranoia. This means not having a single soul on
earth that you can really trust. This is hell on earth.
is not a sign of worry at all if our ancestors, especially
near and dear ones, talk to us, and we listen, and respond.
But many people have a deep fear of any capacity to
communicate with the dead because they are afraid of being
haunted themselves, by very unhappy souls, so that they may
end up psychotic, too. But there is not much we can do to
prevent the contact, other than heavy use of chemicals.
Instead, we can talk to them kindly, we can tell them we see
their distress. We can calm them down.
know enough Chinese and Russian people who find this
friendly exchange with the dead quite normal, and so it is.
In fact, it is wonderful to be in harmonious communication
with our people, here or over there. And this capacity seems
to be coming out in the open more, so it can be refined and
become helpful. Well, it is one of the cornerstones of
family-constellations, and here we have a very protected
space in which everybody involved can be heard and seen,
acknowledged as a human being with a special fate.
A friend brought a young lady to me to look at her symptoms.
She was very frightened, and one never knew what could
trigger her into a panic attack. The family background did
not reveal anything. I asked what had happened in the
family. Then the friend mentioned that she had had a severe
car accident, and after that she had these symptoms. When I
inquired further, I heard that the ordinary medical coma
specialists, no psychiatrists at all, had found that the
patients often returned to consciousness with a
“personality change”, and sometimes with
“psychosis.” That was their observation. A human being
in coma is very vulnerable to being invaded by unhappy
souls. The traumatized, unconscious brain has no defences. I
know a few people who have a similar problem.
form of a mild and only temporary exchange with a dead
person is perhaps also what quite a few Chinese people have
experienced. I have been told about older women who make
themselves heard quite forcefully. Perhaps quite often very
tenaciously, so that the person into whose ears they scream,
gets very distressed and feels truly haunted. I had a taste
of that in Kuala Lumpur when someone finally brought a lady
to me who was acutely suffering from this kind of distress.
we sat down together in a big comfortable armchair, and I
asked the lady about this woman who was so angry in this
poor lady’s head. It became clear it was a very upset
grandmother who had not had anyone to listen to her story.
So she presented her complaints in a rather forceful way
that terrorised the granddaughter. Gradually, step by step,
we befriended and calmed the grandmother down by making her
feel that we were listening to her, and that she was welcome
to tell her painful story, but please, more gently. In the
end grandmother and granddaughter were lovingly reconciled.
Well I hope they have good communication from hereon. This
was not exactly Bert’s way, but rather nearing Marshall
Rosenberg’s compassionate communication style, but it is
still based on Bert’s insights. In a workshop we could
have done this as a constellation, but the lovely big
armchair naturally provided the closeness that calmed both
grandmother and granddaughter.
operate on the soul level, under the guidance of spirit.
In a constellation we are all a bit like puppets, available
to what wants to be shown through us. No thinking. But
awareness of what is at the moment. We can feel when we move
because a movement takes us along. Then we follow.
has distinct qualities. A soul is some subtle sphere that is
more or less conscious of itself. The soul is part of
evolution. The quality of consciousness can vary greatly. A
soul can be injured, but also healed. A soul may be fairly
unconscious or quite alert. A soul may be paralysed or
lively. A soul can go through the range of states that we as
humans go through. A soul stores memory, happy ones and also
trauma. Therefore it is quite possible to represent a soul.
The soul of a family knows what is in need of reconciling,
and it will take us there.
has understood that we are deeply connected to our
ancestors, something that receives far less attention in
western countries, except with minorities that feel
us in the West, here we already have a problem with our
concept of the individual. How do we know that the problem
for which an individual seeks help, is that individual’s
problem? Why does this person not change? The individual may
just bear the symptoms of some painful event in the past.
is healing? Healing means to make whole. It is deep, un-reconciled wounding that took away our wholeness.
Every healing deals with a conflict. One heals a
conflict through reconciliation. We become whole when the
people who belong to us feel whole together with us. That
this is so, we can see because when the reconciliation has
happened, we do not need to revert to the unhealed state,
for we have understood something on a very deep level, there
where love is restored.
the level of psychotherapy, there are some essential
insights that differ from all other approaches.
may even go as far as finding causes. Every traumatic event
consists of at least two players: The one who caused the
suffering, and one who suffers. Yet the analytic part is
usually seen as the cure. It goes like this: “Now you know
what it is all about. Now you can put it in the past.”
knowing is a useful step on the way, but the real healing
happens through reconciliation.
Are the ancestors willing to regret what they have done, to
forgive each other, to find peace with each other? Most of
the time they have been longing for this, deep down.
of western psychotherapy looks at disturbances, unwanted
behaviour, etc in the person, as that which needs to be
The person with the symptoms, which are considered the
illness, is called psychotic, if the symptoms are strong.
The medical profession, and indeed everyone else, want
psychotic people not to hear voices, let alone express them.
The intention is usually to get rid of unwanted symptoms,
with a wide variety of methods. This is tedious work and
usually it does not bring lasting results. When a person
does not exhibit symptoms, people are relieved and call it
Family-constellations have revealed this as an error, because
the psychological disturbances are symptoms which are
expressed through the symptom bearer. This rarely brings
the desired result.
real causes cannot be seen in the symptom bearer, but in the
They can only be seen in those who experienced the actual
events, traumatic occurrences. These are the souls that are
represented in the constellations.
have not yet seen a symptom that did not have a story to
tell and a longing for healing.
really means, making whole, bringing together what needs to
symptom bearing is particularly painful to witness in those
who are called “mentally ill”.
of us are a little bit “disturbed” in some sense, as we
all bear symptoms of real life events. In most cases, we may
not even be aware of it.
this can come from different sources. It can be a past life
of our own that makes itself felt in this life, or else it
can be in some ancestor line of ours. Depending on the
severity of the events, this can go back even 1000 years and
more, especially at places where much bloodshed occurred.
Sometimes these events are still told, in the form of a
out about the real events can be very relieving for the
symptom bearer, but the real healing happens when the
conflicting parties are reconciled.
in its real form is a response to trauma. Each symptom tells
a story and is calling out for help, for the parties
involved to be deeply reconciled.
the end all reconciliation is a reconciliation with fate, or
insights clearly lead us to the understanding that there is
not just the individual soul. Families also share a soul,
and they are even members of different soul groups. So we
clearly also have a family soul. Bert often draws a ring
around three generations, but often it also goes much
further, depending on the severity.
countries also have a soul, but this is another topic.
how does Bert do this work? In the spirit of Wu Wei, of
emptying ourselves of what goes on in ourselves. We let go
of all intentions. We are just the puppets on the strings
that are held by wise hands. We become pervious. We hand
over to greater powers. It is really quite simple. We offer
ourselves up to feel the feelings of another human being,
and to allow the feelings being transformed, through all the
needed steps. First the presentation of the traumatic event,
and then gradually, the healing.
Bert’s process allows this quite easily. The deeper our
surrender to not-knowing goes, the deeper we can go with the
constellation process. Not knowing leads us to deeper
knowing. We are offering ourselves to a process of
transformation. An individual representative opens up
to one other soul, but also to a greater soul that can work
through this person. We have learned to surrender in trust
and openness. In a group of experienced representatives and
with a constellation practitioner who is comfortable with
the magic silence, the process of reconciliation occurs as
if on its own. It is a spiritual
practice in which all participants benefit greatly.
Every representative gains much from experiencing what it
feels like to be the person they represent. True empathy
happens that wipes away differences and prejudices.
is another bit of the magic: The actual persons who are
represented, but not physically present, will perceive what
is going on, no matter where on the planet they are.
is a wonderful thing to help individuals and families, but
how much more wonderful will it be, when we follow the dream
that we can gradually expand this spirit of reconciliation
into larger communities.
is the beginning of a new era where we can start again, in a
spirit of brotherhood.
used to go together with very strict rules which often
become internalised, even by many. This creates a very a
harsh conscience that one must obey, for fear of death. To
compensate for this fear, one can suppress it and develop a
taste for power. This is how it is perpetuated.