Accepted Paper:

"Love from the roots": the natural laws of family in FamilY Constellation Therapy  

Author:

Silvia Vignato (Università Milano-Bicocca)

Paper short abstract:

Ethnography of "family constellation" performances both in international and all-Italian groups points to what can be considered as a lack of ancestorship generating suffering in “western” industrialized countries. Discourses on a "naturally" structured person often in contrast with different national politics and religious imprint intertwine in anchoring conflicting patterns into individuals’ intimacy.

Paper long abstract:

What is the nature of family? Why is ritual therapeutically effective when one goes against such "nature" and suffers?

Family Constellation Therapy, a systemic approach addressing individual suffering through rituals, offers answers to such questions. Bert Hellinger, a former missionary who founded the method, says he drew inspiration upon observing Zulu healing rituals involving ancestors, in a sort of reverse ethnopsychiatry. FTC therapy is cherished by many European psychologists: attuning to the nature and the laws of families, as Hellinger's theory goes, seems healing to both therapists and patients.

In this paper I draw on ethnography of FCT performances both in international and all-Italian groups in order to underline what can be considered as a lack of ancestorship generating suffering in "western" industrialized countries.The starting point of this research being the Osho Meditation Resort in Pune (India) and the FCT I observed there, in a specific devotional (albeit unintentionally so) context, I will focus on the relationtip between ancestorship, local history and divinity as it is theorized by both participants and therapists. FTC ethnography questions the anthropological literature about "ethnic" persons observed to be irretrievably rooted in kin and local relationships. It points to an urge for anthropologists to study what their dominant discourses consider as a "naturally" structured person and how the national politics and the religious imprint intertwine in anchoring conflicting patterns into individuals' intimacy. Thus, a form of psychotherapy becomes a legitimate anthropological field of observation.

Panel W036
Moralities of nature