This post is a subject assignment submitted by a trainee for Foundation Training 2016 (Cape Town).
Theory cannot be removed from observation of what is present phenomenologically in the client system.

It has been included here as a resource for students and graduated facilitators:


From a Family Constellation’s perspective Bi-Polar is seen as a family (or systemic) rather than a personal “issue”. Recalling her work with Hellinger, on a five day intensive on “Psychosis in the Family,” Krista Jarrard says:

Day after day, client after client we saw the same hidden dynamics revealed in the Constellations. Someone in the client’s family lineage had experienced a difficult fate, usually a murder. This led to someone in the current generation identified with both the victim and the perpetrator, causing a deep inner conflict, and carrying the burden of Schizophrenia, Bi Polar or possibly Autism.” 1

Hellinger said:

So-called psychosis is not an illness, it is a systemic entanglement that can be untangled and restored to order through family constellations. A member of a family was responsible for the death of another person, and that this person and also the victim were excluded. Then someone must represent this person and the victim at the same time… This makes the person crazy in a way. But when the people of this family reconcile and come back into the family, the crazy person becomes free from this craziness.” 2

Whether this death is accidental or intentional says Jarrard,

In every case the perpetrator … must be seen and included… and it is this movement that brings peace and resolution to the family.” 3

Stephan Hausner writes:

The basic question is who belongs to the system and has been excluded? Everyone we exclude comes in through the back door.” 4

As Hellinger notes;

No one is more often excluded than a murderer and also their victim.” 5 and “the dead here clung to the living because of their unresolved issue. Setting it up heals the past and reaches back into the present.” 6

As is consistent with the systemic approach, he goes on to say:

You need only work with a member of the family, not the schizophrenic (or bi-polar) person.” 7


In The Healing of Individuals, Families and Nations, by John Payne, 8 a case study is given of a young man, Paul, diagnosed as bi-polar and suffering from extreme depression – attributed to his parents’ divorce and his father’s rejection of his homosexuality. Payne’s immediate sense was of “something dire in his mother’s family.” 9 It emerged overtime, that many in the family suspected his great grandmother of murdering her own child. Paul was clearly identified with the dead child and his life was reflecting that.

In another case study,10 Payne cites the example of Stephan, a young man of mixed Jewish and German ancestry, strongly identified with both his great-aunt who had been in the concentration camps and the camp commandant who essentially forced her to either kill her own child or watch him be burned alive. Stephan was carrying both perpetrator and victim energy and unable to choose between the two. He had been diagnosed as schizophrenic. In both cases, after several constellations, the men’s mental states improved. 11

In working with violent death (and other personal fates that may seem heavy to us) Hellinger says

If …we feel sorry or have pity on them … we deny that everybody has his own destiny and that this destiny is, for him, the right one. If we have pity, we accuse the forces that act behind. In a way, we behave in a superior way, as if we could know what is right and good. We impose our judgments regarding their fate on them… We must bow to each individual person and to whatever their fate or destiny might be. Then we become humble, when we ourselves are in real agreement with the fate of the other person. Not because we think right and wrong but because we follow the movements of these other forces and wait to be shown the next step.12

If I nonetheless attempt to understand how it feels to be a torture victim or some other victim of a violent death, then I’m being presumptuous. This attempt at insight does not do my life – or probably my death – any service. I remain in my own life and in my own death when the time comes. In this way I respect what these victims have suffered without interfering in their suffering or their fate.” 13

The same applies to the perpetrators:

Many descendants of survivors of the Holocaust have perpetrator energy because they exclude the perpetrators. Even the murderers are human beings and they are not worse than the others. They are entangled and follow their conscience… To reject them will make you like them. There is no solution but to give all the honor of being a human being like myself. A murderer who is accused, can never change. Only if you can say, “I love you” can they change.” 14




  1. Jarrard, Krista. (1/4/2012)
  2. Hellinger, Bert. (2010)
  3. Jarrard, Krista. (1/4/2012)
  4. Hausner, Stephan (2008)
  5. Hellinger, Bert. (2003)
  6. Hellinger, Bert. (2003)
  7. Hellinger, Bert. (2003)
  8. Payne, John.L. (2005). The Healing of Individuals, Families and Nations. Findhorn, Scotland: Findhorn Press. Chapter 2: Illness
  9. Ibid
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  13. Payne, John.L. (2005). The Healing of Individuals, Families and Nations. Findhorn, Scotland: Findhorn Press. Chapter 2: Illness
  14. Hellinger, Bert. (2003)
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