Reviewed by Erin N.
Dr. Manné, Buddhist Psychologist, has written a guide detailing the method of therapy created by Bert Hellinger: Family Constellation. This method operates on the premise that all behavior patterns are the result of the families we are born into. The constellation method claims that each family has an “energy field” and that everyone within it holds a unique position. This position determines our ability to cope with stress, feel happiness, engage in healthy relationships, etc. This energy field that holds all the family members in place is created by the family’s history, thus the actions of previous generations (even if there had been no direct contact) influence an individual’s place in this energy field. The constellation method helps clients discover their place in the energy field, why they are placed where they are, and how to heal from any damage brought about by it.
Family Constellations provides a great deal of case studies to illustrate how this method works. Despite the disclaimer at the end of the book stating that “no method can resolve all problems,” Dr. Manné’s book provides details on how the constellation method can be used to help a client deal with death, divorce, war, incest, adoption, as well as other incidents. The Foreword, written by Bert Hellinger, claims that this book was “long-awaited” and that “it is such easy and beautiful reading.” Hellinger goes on to say that this book provides many “hints on how to make our lives and are relationships richer and more fulfilling.” It certainly is very detailed and easy to understand, even to those whose background is not in psychotherapy.
Family Constellations provides a unique view on the causes and solutions to many of life’s problems.
Erin fell in love with the written word as a small child and subsequently spent most of her life happily devouring literature. She works as a freelance news, marketing, and technical writer. Erin lives just outside of Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, children, and grandchildren.
Interview with Joy Manne
As you state throughout the book, the “constellation method” was created by Bert Hellinger, a German psychoanalyst. Since Hellinger has written a great deal of literature about this method, what is the purpose of your book?
Manne: Hellinger says in his foreword to my book that it is a long-awaited introduction. Its purpose is to be accessible and it is succeeding. The book, which first came out in French, has become the introduction of choice for French constellators. Hellinger’s books are inspiring and irreplaceable, and they are written for professionals. Many of them are transcriptions and discussions of constellations and their integration done in seminars. My book presents the rules and patterns that govern the family system, allowing readers to understand their own personal position within that system, and thus avoid doing harm to themselves and others in their family and outside it.
Delving into the controversial subjects, you state that the constellation method has revealed that homosexuality is caused by an individual identifying with a family member of the opposite sex. Does this imply that homosexuality can be “cured?
Manne: Homosexuality may be caused by an individual identifying with and trying unconsciously to replace a family member (for example, for a man, his sister or a mother or grandmother who died young and who hasn’t been mourned). Illnesses too are caused through an individual identifying with a family member of the same or of a different sex. Homosexuality is respected. Illnesses are respected.
This is a method that avoids judgments and focuses on the healing that is revealed by truth, when before there has only been pain, and no love. Healing does not mean not being homosexual. Healing does not mean not being ill. Healing comes from seeing and experiencing the underlying dynamic, integrating it and coming to peace with it.
Judgments have no place in constellations. Family Constellations is absolutely not a means of controlling and changing other people.
Your PhD is in Buddhist psychology, what exactly is that?
Manne: My PhD is in the Theravada Buddhist texts in Pali, a language related to Sanskrit, and concerns textual issues (philology) and also the psychology (case histories in particular) in these texts. It was awarded by Utrecht University in Holland and has been published as a series of articles. It has no formal title bestowed by the university, so I call it “Buddhist Psychology” to give people an idea of what I studied, what my specialist field is, and what the most important influence in my life is.
You regularly conduct the family constellations in Switzerland and Poland. Do you plan to branch out to other countries? Are there other constellation practitioners available in other countries?
Manne: I love this work, so if I’m invited by reliable organizers I will be pleased to travel to work in other countries. Yes, there are organizations in many countries now. These can easily be found through Google.
This book was provided free of any obligation by North Atlantic Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.