This article casts an anthropological look on one particular systemic psychotherapy which draws its inspiration both from ethnographic experience and from Christian Catholic religion. This therapy is called Family Constellation and is a good therapy in the sense that it heals, as it is maintained by both therapists and clients. It relies on an idea of a ‘‘natural’’ or ‘‘true’’ family and it is practiced by psychologists as well as by ‘alternative’ therapists, intensively in Europe and parts of Asia but all the more so in other bits of ‘the West’. Its main feature is that it works through ritual and through what, in anthropology, would be called possession by a spirit, most likely an ancestor. On the one side, Family Constellation Therapy (FCT) deals with a specific idea of ancestrality seen as both ‘natural’ and ‘good’, and this defines the individual-cum-ancestors’ primacy over any wider social structure. Sociality, citizenship and state are mainly constructed as dangerous though historically unavoidable disturbances to nature and, ultimately, to health and morality. On the other side, precisely because it includes history as a specific set of ancestral relationships, in its practice FCT rescues any ancestorship as moral. FCT ethnography shows that, as Strathern says, in the age of individualism and contrarily to expectations, the individual appears as a relative (2005: 8), and that this, for the middle-class patients of the FCT, seems a good way to retrieve some power over themselves. This questions why and how they have lost it.

Vignato, S. (2008). The Natural Ancestors. An Ethnography of Family Constellation Therapy. QUADERNS-E, 12, 1-29.

The Natural Ancestors. An Ethnography of Family Constellation Therapy

VIGNATO, SILVIA
2008

Abstract

This article casts an anthropological look on one particular systemic psychotherapy which draws its inspiration both from ethnographic experience and from Christian Catholic religion. This therapy is called Family Constellation and is a good therapy in the sense that it heals, as it is maintained by both therapists and clients. It relies on an idea of a ‘‘natural’’ or ‘‘true’’ family and it is practiced by psychologists as well as by ‘alternative’ therapists, intensively in Europe and parts of Asia but all the more so in other bits of ‘the West’. Its main feature is that it works through ritual and through what, in anthropology, would be called possession by a spirit, most likely an ancestor. On the one side, Family Constellation Therapy (FCT) deals with a specific idea of ancestrality seen as both ‘natural’ and ‘good’, and this defines the individual-cum-ancestors’ primacy over any wider social structure. Sociality, citizenship and state are mainly constructed as dangerous though historically unavoidable disturbances to nature and, ultimately, to health and morality. On the other side, precisely because it includes history as a specific set of ancestral relationships, in its practice FCT rescues any ancestorship as moral. FCT ethnography shows that, as Strathern says, in the age of individualism and contrarily to expectations, the individual appears as a relative (2005: 8), and that this, for the middle-class patients of the FCT, seems a good way to retrieve some power over themselves. This questions why and how they have lost it.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
Anthropology; ethnography; therapy; psychotherapy; ancestrality; Europe; family; ritual
Antropologia; Etnografia; terapia; psicoterapia; ancestralità; Europa; famiglia; rito
English
Vignato, S. (2008). The Natural Ancestors. An Ethnography of Family Constellation Therapy. QUADERNS-E, 12, 1-29.
Vignato, S
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/10281/6780
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