The foundation of systemic phenomenological work


14 July 2021| Personal

No one’s fault


‘It’s not your fault,’ I had a coachee say out loud. And then:

‘It’s nobody’s fault’.

A deep silence ensued in which it became palpable how much pain there was and is in this family system.

The original question was about perpetrator-ship. The coachee struggled with the fact that she could often be so venomous. We investigated where perpetrator-ship and victim-ship was not allowed to have a place in history, but I found little ground for this.

Her father was three months old when his mother died. Of pneumonia, yes, she was probably weakened after giving birth. Four older children also lost their mothers, and their father lost his wife.

“It was his fault” was the unspoken phrase that circulated in this system.

The coachee apparently picked this up unconsciously as a child. Children’s antennae sense what is unspoken in a system. The antennae of a child pick up what is father’s ‘guilt’ and so a daughter takes it off father’s shoulders, that’s what just happens.

Well, and ‘if you are guilty, then you are a perpetrator’, then becomes the groove in which the pattern lingers.

The venom unconsciously brings into focus the unspoken venomous thoughts of father’s older siblings, and the daughter’s feeling of being a perpetrator unconsciously tries to protect father from that.

But after uttering “it’s nobody’s fault,” a huge void emerged. And even through the computer screen I felt the pain. Even this woman’s vastly developed reasoning could not defeat this pain. The pain that was there, it is there, palpable …

And in this silence the insight arises with me, that this perpetrator-ship is also a way of survival. As long as it is someone’s fault, we don’t have to feel the pain. But when no one is to blame, a void is created from which pain inevitably looms.

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