HIV/AIDS

The below is an extract from: Unraveling Family Secrets. Bert Hellinger interviewed on Family Constellations, By Humberto del Pozo in Santiago de Chile, September 1999. [These are the views of BH in 1999 and not necessarily those of Erik Andersen]

What about Aids?

To be infected with the virus or contract AIDS is not a family dynamics, not directly. Of course people who contract AIDS are mostly homosexuals, and homosexuality is a family dynamics. If I go back to the previous example, if there was a child who dyed early and the child was a girl, and later on in the family there are only boys, then one of the boys has to represent a girl. Now, this leads to homosexuality; if a man has to represent a woman in a family. But when there is AIDS, the main issue is that they face their destiny and fate. By what I have seen they usually have no illusions, it is easy to work with them. With regards to the dynamics of homosexuality, first, I want to say a couple of general things about the systemic view.

Everyone is an integral part of the relationship systems in which he or she lives, and everyone has an equal value in the functioning of those systems -everyone in the family system is essential to the system.

Differences in a social system add to its durability and stability. The conscience that seeks to exclude individuals from the group because they are different operates on a different level than does the systemic conscience that seeks to balance the system as a whole by guarding the right of every member to belong to the system. It has very serious consequences for the younger members of a family system when someone is excluded from the system because he or she is different. I’ve seen many cases in which younger persons suffered terribly because they had to identify with an older relative who was excluded from the family because of his being homosexual.

This fundamental commitment to the intrinsic dignity and value of all persons makes ¡t possible to view differences openly. Having said that, there’s an inescapable fact that homosexual couples face: Their love can’t lead to their having children together. Procreation’s insistence on heterosexuality has consequences that can’t be ignored as if they didn’t exist. In any partnership without children, the partners can separate with less guilt -they only hurt one another. But when parents separate, that has enormous consequences for their children, and they must be very careful or their children will be harmed by what they do. This added guilt makes it more difficult for parents to separate, but, paradoxically, it also supports their partnership. Couples without children – including homosexual couples- don’t have the support of these consequences to hold them together during crises.

Homosexual couples, like other childless couples interested in long-term, loving partnerships, especially need to make clear and conscious decisions about the purpose and goals of their partnership. Some goals are more conducive to long-term stability in relationships than are others. Wanting to avoid loneliness or the feeling of emptiness, for example, isn’t a goal that supports a long-term partnership of equals. Everyone has his or her own path in life -part of it we choose, but part of it just comes with life and isn’t really chosen. That’s the part that’s hard to deal with. The homosexuals with whom I’ve worked -even those who maintain that they chose their sexual orientation freely- have been caught in systemic dynamics, experiencing in their lives the consequences of what others in their system did or suffered. They’ve been inducted into the service of the system, and as children, they couldn’t defend themselves from the systemic pressures to which they were subjected. So that’s the second thing they have to deal with, that they’re carrying something for the family.

I’ve rarely worked with someone who wanted to “get over” being homosexual. When I work with homosexual persons, homosexuality isn’t the primary issue. I merely try to bring to light any entanglements that might be limiting the fullness of life, but I have no intention of trying to change someone’s sexual orientation.


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