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.
What laws govern the behavior of those who belong to the family soul?
As I said before, the family members behave as if they all share a common soul, or a common conscience, and as if they are all subject to a common higher authority. It even appears that this authority follows certain laws and demands.
The Greater Love
The first phenomenon we see here is, that the members of a family are bound together by this greater soul, or common family soul. This is true even to the extent that a child, whose mother or father dies early, feels a longing to follow them into death. Even parents or grandparents occasionally want to follow their child or grandchild into death, and we can observe this dynamic between partners as well. If one dies, often the other one loses the desire to live.
Balance and Compensation
The second phenomenon we notice, is that there is an urge to balance gains and losses across generations. That means that someone who has profited at someone else’s expense will pay for it with an equivalent loss to compensate. If those who benefited were also the perpetrators, their descendants are often the ones who end up paying. The family soul uses them in place of their ancestors, frequently without anybody being aware of it. And if somebody was guilty in a former generation, but he did not face his guilt then somebody from a later generation will take up the atonement for that guilt. So for instance he will kill himself. We’ll see that with the Nazi murderers for instance. And many descendants two or three generations later have a tendency to be suicidal, they want to redress that.
The Order of Precedence
In other words, the family soul favors those who came earlier over those who came later. This represents a third movement, or natural order of the family soul. Someone who is born later is prepared to die for someone who came earlier in the system, sacrificing his own life in an attempt to prevent the death of another family member. Or, the later family member may be atoning for the unresolved guilt of someone who came earlier. A daughter may represent her father’s former wife, and behave towards him more like a partner than like his child. In such a case, she becomes her mother’s rival. If the father’s former partner had been wronged, the daughter may take over the feelings of that woman towards the two parents.
The fourth order of the family soul attends to the integrity of the family and demands that every family member have the right to belong. Later family members represent earlier members who have been excluded or forgotten, thereby honoring their right to belong, and restoring them to the family by making a place for them. Whenever one member is excluded or forgotten, then this kind of conscience or soul picks somebody from a later generation to regress the former person. And this person then acts out the life of the former one. This is only a brief summary of some of the movements of the family soul and its underlying orders. My books “Love’s Hidden Symmetry” and “Acknowledging What Is” deals with the topic more extensively.