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Family and family relationships
Fundamentally your family depicts the values, attitudes and emotional or social responses you have absorbed from them; the acceptance or tensions you feel in relationship with them; the support or pain you feel from parents and siblings.
From your family you learn most of the positive and negative patterns of relationship, social skills and attitudes towards living that you carry into daily events. Father’s uncertainty in dealing with people, or his anxiety in meeting change, may be the roots of your own difficulties in those areas. If your mother is unable to develop a warm feeling contact with you, you might lack the experience of being able to love.
Growing up means you need to meet and integrate the many behavioural, emotional and even physical traits you have absorbed. For instance the absence of a father or mother’s love or presence can be as traumatic as any powerfully injuring event.
Example: They curse and cry until all their disillusionment and rage and heartbreak is dispelled. But then finally they see their parents as they really were. One patient looked back at her domineering neurotic mother and for an instant she saw her surrounded by all her flaws and all her virtues. And for the first time she found forgiveness and understanding for the flaws, and gratitude for the virtues. Her mother was not a goddess, not even a very good mother, but she was the woman who had borne and nourished her. Without denying the pain she had suffered at her mother’s hands, the patient could now say, “Yes, that woman is really my mother, and I am really her daughter.” And in accepting this reality which neither she nor anyone else could change, she discovered an almost mystical joy. Then she looked at her incompetent, rather befuddled father and thought, “This is my father; I shall never have another,” and again the radiant warmth and gratitude surrounded her. For the first time, her psyche, done with its wandering to the far lands of illusion and denial, had come home to accept the real terms of its existence, and had found peace in them. Quoted from LSD Psychotherapy by Caldwell.
What, in the way I live and love have I absorbed from my family?
Are there particular ways I respond to relationships or work that arise out of family events?
Is the way I succeed or fail in love an example of what I learned from my parents?
The whole background of experience that makes up your values and views. This background arises out of thousands of different obvious and subtle things such as social status; amount of books in the home; how parents feel about themselves; how they relate to life outside the family; whether dominant roles are encouraged; what nationality parents are; what unconscious social attitudes surround the family i.e. the master and servant, or dominating employer and subservient employee roles. All these things still colour many attitudes you carry in you, perhaps unconsciously.
Accident to family group
This shows either an imagined anxiety, or a real sense of some change occurring in the family, as in the example below.
Example: I was on a train with my family – wife, and two daughters. The train was derailed but nobody was hurt and we got off the train. I was walking in a field near the train. I thought my wife and daughters had got back on the train. Then suddenly another train smashed into the rear of the derailed train making it concertina into a heap. I wasn’t sure if my family were still on the train.’
Roger associated the theme of derailing with a change in direction – the change that was coming about through his children becoming independent. Some months later his wife and daughters left him. Divorce followed.
Hurting, burying or killing parent
In the example below Audrey’s height shows her as a child. She is releasing anger about the attitudes and situations her father forced ‘down her throat’. To be free of the introverted restraints and ready made values gathered from our parents at some time in our growth we may kill or bury them in our dreams. Although some people are shocked by such dreams, they are healthy signs of emerging independence. When father or mother is ‘dead’ in our dream, we can inherit all the power gained from whatever was positive in the relationship.
Example: ‘My father was giving me and another woman some medicine. Something was being forced on us. I started to hit and punch him in the genitals and when he was facing the other way, in the backside. I seemed to be just the right height to do this and I had a very angry feeling that I wanted to hurt him as he had hurt me.’ Audrey V.
Seeing parent drunk, incapable or foolish
Such feeling often are a way you enable yourself to become independent from internalised values, or stultifying drives to ‘honour’ or admire father or mother.
Dead parent in dream
Either the beginning of independence from parent; repression of the emotions they engendered in you, or your emotions regarding your parent’s death. Perhaps dealing with feelings about death.