Suffering: a destiny? The point of view of Family Constellations

Healing & Meditation

An essay by therapist Anurag on illness, the Morphogenetic Field, and Family Constellation.

trees and families

The collective mind of the family

Illness is certainly an individual matter. People fall ill for a thousand and one reasons.

Its origins may also have roots in the family. I am not talking about the DNA as the core for triggering genetic disease. I am talking about the collective mind of the family. You cannot measure or sequence this ‘mind’ in a laboratory. We can, however, bring it to the surface through Family Constellation. We can bring to light unconscious links of suffering with family members, sometimes even family members unknown to us.

First I would like to define what I mean by ‘mind’. It is a programme. Or rather the programme of programmes, containing instructions on how to live our lives. It is a programme that can learn, and can therefore be modified through awareness. Some of these instructions are about how to relate to the world, created in childhood through the relationship with our parents. And there are instructions that precede this relationship. They come from much further back. They originate in the history (or destiny) that marked our family, even generations ago.

We assume that we think and act as individuals, but this is not so. We are part of systems. Human systems are comparable to biological systems, with dynamic relationships between the components and a common goal: the continuation of the system. We are subject to the laws that govern its functioning and structure, whether we want to be or not.

Difficult fates and resonances

As part of a system, we resonate with other members of the system. The system can influence our state of well-being or discomfort. Difficult fates of ancestors can be passed on to descendants. By ‘difficult destiny’ I mean that of an ancestor who has suffered some kind of trauma that has put a strain on the whole emotional system. Examples of such traumas might be: death of a parent at an early age, war, loss of siblings at an early age or through accident or murder. Family Constellations can bring all this to the surface.

Transgenerational trauma

Such a trauma can cause an echo in the family, affecting not only the member who has suffered it. It has entered the collective mind and caused adaptation mechanisms. Trauma is known to cause suffering. How can this suffering be passed on from generation to generation? Suffering can affect the mind or the body. In many cases we can speak of diseases of systemic origin because they are connected to the family of origin. I am not referring to specific diseases that can be precisely labelled as genetic diseases. In these, if a certain gene is present there is a probability that the subject will develop that disease.

I am referring to what in the Systemic Constellations is technically called ‘wanting to follow’. These are unconscious tendencies where we repeat a pattern of suffering, but not so much as to replicate the specific disease. In fact, it is more correct to speak of symptoms with a systemic connection.

We are linked to the family of origin by the need of belonging, which translates to blind love.

Belonging is an unconscious need that makes us feel less alone; protected and united within our group and its fate. Illness can therefore have a blind link that makes us feel ONE with our family. Blind love is the definition given by Bert Hellinger, the father of Family Constellation.

How does a trauma that happened in previous generations affect our lives 50 or 60 years later?

The Morphogenetic Field

Trauma is a systemic memory. Rupert Sheldrake, in the field of biology, investigated how ‘information of species’ is transmitted. He came to the controversial conclusion that there is a Morphogenetic Field. This differs from species to species. Through this field, the learning by individuals is transmitted to the whole species. This means that what happens to one individual is processed and transmitted to all. The information is contained in the Morphogenetic Field. There is no need to have personally witnessed the response given by the individual which has led to the learning of a new behaviour. When we speak of Family Constellation we are dealing with a Morphogenetic Field in action. Sheldrake himself made the statement that we learn not only by imitation and repetition, but also through the Morphogenetic Field.

Phenomenology and Family Constellation

During a Constellation session or workshop, these traumatic transgenerational memories can surface. We are outside the field of psychology. We are in the field of phenomenology. That is, we cannot know in advance what the field will show us and what resonances between us and certain ancestors it will highlight. The Constellation is nothing more than a visual-spatial representation of our system. What emerges from this representation is the individual’s internalised blueprint of the relationships between the members of the system. With Constellations we bring to awareness the unconscious links that drive us to repeat the unfortunate fates of those who have come before us. If we are able to close the circle of suffering, without judgement, we can open up to a more conscious love.

Family Constellations as a tool for well-being

Awareness can defeat mind patterns. I use Family Constellations in personal growth and meditation groups. For me, they are not a healing method. They cannot replace a consultation with a doctor and appropriate medical treatment. They can, however, shed light on what might lead us to share suffering. We can then feel better and our mind can find peace. Our relationship with the world will definitely improve. The Constellations are not a substitute for medicine, as some might want to believe. They can relieve us and have a preventive function, because they show us our unconscious tendencies. When the mind relaxes, the body is also happier.

Of course, we can avoid falling into the trap of blind love. Often, Family Constellations make us look with compassion at those who have gone before us. We understand the movements of the spirit, driven by blind love. They help us to put things in order and understand certain behaviours for which we could not find a logical explanation. We can find peace and reconciliation with our roots.

First appeared on the Italian homeopathic medicine blog (24 April 2021) and was re-published on Siddho’s blog:


Anurag is the co-founder, together with Siddho, of Osho Tao Essence Institute in Milan. They travel worldwide giving workshops and trainings in various modalities.

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