K.G. Jung family constellation

Ladies and gentlemen, as we have seen, there are various ways in which the association experiment can be used in practical psychology. Today I would like to talk to you about another way of using this experiment, which, first of all, has a purely theoretical value. My student, Emma Furst, of the Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Zurich , did the following research: She performed an association experiment on twenty-four families with a total of one hundred subjects. The resulting material amounted to 22,200 associations.

This material was processed as follows: according to logical-linguistic criteria, fifteen well-defined groups were formed, and the associations were grouped as follows:










Subordination and superordination










Predicate expressing personal judgment





simple predicate





Relations of the verb to the subject or object (subject or object)





Time designation, etc.




















Motor-speech combination





Word composition





Word endings





sound associations





Defective reactions

- - -
Total 173.5
Average difference 173.5/15= 11.5

As you can see from this example, I'm using the difference to show the degree of analogy. In order to find a basis for the sum of similarities, I calculated the differences between all of Dr. Furst's unrelated subjects by comparing each female subject with all other unrelated women; the same comparison was made for male subjects.
The most noticeable difference is noted in cases where the two compared subjects do not have a common associative quality. All groups are calculated as a percentage, the maximum difference can be 200/15=13.3 percent.

I The average difference between male subjects who are not relatives is 5.9 percent, the same parameter in the case of women in the same group is 6 percent.
II The average difference between related male subjects is 4.1 percent, in the case of women it is 3.8 percent. From these figures, we see that relatives tend to agree in the type of reaction.
III The difference between fathers and children = 4.2, mothers = 3.5. The types of reaction of children are closer to the type of the mother than to the father.
IV The difference between fathers and their sons = 3.1, daughters = 4.9, between mothers and sons = 4, daughters = 3.0.
V Difference between brothers = 4.7, sisters = 5.1. If we omit married sisters from the comparison procedure, we get the following result: difference between unmarried sisters = 3.8. These observations clearly show that marriage, to one degree or another, destroys the original agreement, since the husband is of a different type. Difference between unmarried brothers = 4.8. Apparently, in the case of men, marriage has no effect on the type of associations. However, the data we have is not yet sufficient to allow us to draw definitive conclusions.
Difference between husband and wife = 4.7. This number is not a reliable sum of different and highly unequal values; that is, there are some cases showing extreme differences as well as cases showing complete agreement. The graphs show different results (Fig. 1-5). I marked the quantitative values ​​of the associations on the vertical axis as a percentage. The Roman numerals on the horizontal axis represent the association forms shown in the table above.

Rice. 1. The father (thick line) shows an object type, while mother and daughter are a pure predicate with a pronounced subjective tendency.

Rice. 2. Husband and wife agree well in purely predicate type, with the predicate subjective type somewhat more pronounced in the case of the wife.

Rice. 3. Very good agreement between the father and his two daughters.

Rice. 4. Two sisters live together. The dotted line represents the value for the married sister.

Rice. 5. Husband and wife. The wife is the sister of the women in Fig. 4. She is very close to the type of her husband. Her drawing is the exact opposite of that of her sisters.

similarity associations in the subjects being related is often surprising. Here are the associations of mother and daughter:

Incentive word




hard work



God's command




father and mother








many people

five people

outsider (alien, unfamiliar)




means a lot to me






strong pain









a lot of days

31 days











happy child

Small children

Indeed, one might suppose that in this experiment, where the door is wide open to so-called chance, individuality might become a factor of paramount importance, and therefore rich variety and freedom of association might be expected. But, as we have seen, the results suggest otherwise. The daughter shares the mother's way of thinking, not only in her ideas, but also in the form of their expression; so much so that she even uses the same words. What could be more free, fickle and incoherent than a fleeting thought? Here the thought is not inconsistent, however, it is not free, on the contrary, it is strictly determined by the boundaries of the environment. Therefore, if even the most superficial and apparently most fleeting mental images are entirely conditioned by the environmental constellation, what can we expect for the more significant mental activities, for emotions, desires, hopes and intentions? Consider a specific example shown in Fig. 1.

The mother is forty-five years old and the daughter is sixteen. According to the results of the assessment, both clearly belong to the predicate type and are distinctly different from the father. The father is a drunkard and a demoralized man. Thus, it is understandable that his wife is emotionally hungry and betrays him with her harsh value judgments. However, the same arguments cannot be applied to the daughter, because, firstly, she is not married to a drunkard, and secondly, life with all its hopes and promises is still open to her. It is absolutely unnatural for a daughter to be in a group of pronounced predicate type. She reacts to environmental stimuli exactly as her mother does. But if in the mother this type is to some extent a natural consequence of her unfortunate situation, then this does not apply to the daughter at all. The daughter simply imitates her mother; she follows her mother's pattern. Consider what this might mean for a young girl. For her, this is unnatural and makes her react to the world as an elderly woman, disappointed in life, would react. But the consequences can be even more serious. As you know, predicates express strong emotions openly; everything is emotional for them. If such people are our loved ones, then it is difficult to avoid a reaction, at least internally; we can become infected by their emotions and even be captured by them. Initially, affects and their physical manifestations had a biological significance, that is, they served as a protective mechanism for the individual and the entire herd. If we demonstrate our feeling, we can be sure that we will arouse feelings in others. Such is the experience of the predicate type in question. What a forty-five-year-old woman does not receive emotionally, namely love in marriage, she seeks as compensation in the outside world, and for this reason she is an ardent follower of the Christian Science movement. If the daughter obeys this pattern, she behaves in the same way as her mother, looking for emotional satisfaction outside. But for a sixteen-year-old girl, such an emotional state is very dangerous, to say the least; like her mother, she reacts to her surroundings by asking for sympathy for her suffering. This emotional state is no longer dangerous for the mother, but for obvious reasons it is dangerous for the daughter. As soon as she is freed from her father and mother, she will become like her mother, a suffering, internally unsatisfied woman. Thus, she will be in great danger of becoming a victim of violence and marrying the same rude and drunkard as her father.

This consideration seems to me important for understanding the influence of the environment and education. This example shows what can be passed from a mother to her child. It is not the pious commandments and the repetition of pedagogical truths that influence the formation of the character of the developing child; he is most strongly influenced by the unconscious personal affective states of his parents and teachers. Hidden conflicts between parents, secret anxieties, repressed desires - all these factors give rise to a characteristic emotional state in the child, which slowly but surely, albeit unconsciously, seeps into his psyche, as a result of which exactly the same attitude is formed, and, consequently, the same reactions to the environment. We all know that when we associate with moody and melancholic people, we become depressed ourselves. A restless and nervous person infects others with anxiety, whining, discontent, and so on. Since adults are very sensitive to environmental influences, we should certainly expect that children, whose minds are soft and malleable as wax, will be even more sensitive. Fathers and mothers imprint their personalities deeply into the minds of their children; the more sensitive and receptive the child's psyche, the deeper the seal. Everything is reflected unconsciously, even things that have never been spoken aloud. The child mimics the gestures, and the parental gestures are an expression of their emotional states, and in turn the gesture gradually forms a certain emotional state in the child as the child appropriates it. The adaptation of the child to the world is exactly the same as that of his parents. At puberty, when the child begins to free himself from the curse of the family, he enters life with practically the same set of impaired adaptation mechanisms as his parents. This may be the cause of frequent and very deep teenage depressions; their symptoms are rooted in the difficulties of developing new adaptive mechanisms. At first, the teenager tries to separate himself from the family as much as possible, up to complete alienation, but internally this will only connect him even more strongly with the image of his parents. I recall the case of a young neurotic who ran away from home. He became alienated from his family to the point of cruelty, but at the same time he admitted to me that he had a very special talisman: a box with his old children's books, dried flowers, stones, and even small bottles of water from the well of his house and from the river along which he walked together with parents.

The first steps towards friendship and love are most rigidly determined by the nature of the relationship with our parents, and this, as a rule, perfectly illustrates how powerful the influence of the family constellation is. For example, often a healthy son of a hysterical mother finds a hysterical wife, and the daughter of an alcoholic chooses an alcoholic as her husband. One day I was talking to an intelligent and educated woman of twenty-six who was suffering from a peculiar symptom. She complained that her gaze now and then took on a strange expression that had an undesirable effect on men. If she looked at the man next to her, he became embarrassed, turned away, suddenly began to say something to the man next to him, after which they either began to laugh or felt ashamed. The patient was convinced that her gaze aroused obscene thoughts in men. It was impossible to dissuade her from this belief. This symptom immediately aroused in me the suspicion that I was dealing not with a neurosis, but with paranoia. But in the course of treatment, after only three days, I saw that I was mistaken, because the symptom, being analyzed, immediately disappeared. It arose as follows: the lady had a lover who publicly rejected her. She felt completely abandoned, stopped appearing in society, refused entertainment, she had suicidal thoughts. In such isolation, unconscious and repressed erotic desires accumulated, which she unconsciously projected onto men as soon as she found herself in their company. This formed the belief that her gaze excites erotic desires in men. Further investigation revealed that her unfaithful lover was mentally ill, a fact she apparently did not realize. I expressed my surprise that she had made such an unsuitable choice and added that she must have had a certain tendency to like mentally deranged people. She denied this, but said that she had once, even before this incident, been engaged to an absolutely normal person. He also abandoned her; and on further investigation it turned out that he had also been in a psychiatric hospital for a year shortly before, another psychotic! This seemed sufficient to confirm my suggestion that she had an unconscious tendency to choose insane men. Where did this strange taste come from? Her father was strange, eccentric, and in his later years became completely estranged from his family. The patient's love was thus shifted from a father figure to a brother who was eight years older and whom she loved and revered as a father. At fourteen, my brother became hopelessly insane. This, no doubt, was the very pattern from which the patient could never free herself, according to which she chose her lovers and through which she was bound to become unhappy. A particular form of her neurosis, giving the impression of insanity, probably arose from the same childhood pattern. We must take into account that in this case we are dealing with a highly educated and intelligent woman, who does not neglect her inner experience, who really thought a lot about her unfortunate fate, having, however, no idea of ​​what was the cause of her misfortune.

We unconsciously take things of this kind in ourselves for granted; it is for this reason that we cannot see what is really happening, but we assume that our innate character is to blame. I could give countless examples of this. Patients constantly illustrate to me the determining influence of family history on their own destiny. In every neurosis we can see how the emotional environment formed in infancy affects not only the nature of the neurosis, but also the fate of the patient down to the smallest detail. Years later, one can find a trace of such family constellations, which have been the cause of numerous unsuccessful career choices and disastrous marriages. There are, however, cases where the profession has been chosen well, where the husband or wife is impeccable, and yet the patient feels ill and lives and works in constant tension. A similar situation often manifests itself in the case of chronic neurasthenics. Here the difficulty lies in the fact that the mind is unconsciously split into two parts, which are opposite and conflicting tendencies; one part lives with a husband or profession, while the other lives unconsciously in the past with a father or mother. I have treated a woman for many years suffering from a severe neurosis which eventually progressed to dementia praecox. The neurotic syndrome began to develop from the moment of marriage. The patient's husband was a kind, educated, wealthy man, suited to her in every way; there were no visible reasons in his character that could in any way interfere with family happiness. And yet, the marriage was unhappy, because the wife was neurotic, an easy relationship was not possible. A heuristically important principle of any psychoanalysis says: If a patient develops a neurosis, then this neurosis contains the negative aspect of the relationship of this patient with a person close to him. The husband's neurosis clearly shows that he has strong resistance and negative attitudes towards his wife; the neurotic wife has attitudes that alienate her from her husband. In the unmarried patient the neurosis turns against the lover or the parents. Every neurotic naturally resists such a ruthless interpretation of the content of his neurosis and often does not acknowledge it under any pretense, and yet this is always the crux of the matter. Of course, the conflict does not lie on the surface, and, as a rule, can only be revealed by painstaking psychoanalysis.

To give the story of our patient: the father was a person who made a deep impression. She was his beloved daughter and treated her father with boundless respect. At seventeen, she first fell in love with a young man. At that time she twice had the same dream, the impression of which never left her afterwards; she even gave it a certain mystical meaning and often remembered him with religious awe. In her dream, she saw a tall male figure with a very beautiful white beard, at the sight of which she was filled with a sense of reverence and delight, as if she experienced the presence of God himself. This dream made a deep impression on her, and she was forced to constantly think about it. The love affair turned out to be frivolous and soon ended. The patient later married her current husband. Although she loved her husband, she mentally constantly compared him with her late father, and the comparison always turned out not in favor of her husband. Whatever the husband did, said, or intended to do, was condemned in the same scenario and always with the same result: "My father would have done it all differently and better. Thus, our patient could not enjoy life with husband. She could neither respect nor love him enough, and he was inwardly disappointed and dissatisfied. Gradually she developed strong religious feelings and at the same time symptoms of hysteria appeared. She began to show sentimental attachments, now to one priest, then to another , becoming more and more alienated from her husband.Psychiatric syndrome manifested ten years after marriage, and in this state she refused to have anything to do with her husband and child, in her imagination she saw herself pregnant by another man. to her husband, which until now had been carefully suppressed, became quite pronounced and manifested itself in various ways, including severe violence.

This case shows that the neurosis began to develop approximately at the time of marriage and was expressed in the manifestation of a negative attitude towards her husband. What is the content of this negative attitude? This is a relationship with the patient's father, day by day she proved to herself that her husband had not grown up to the level of her father. When the patient first fell in love, a symptom appeared, an extremely impressive dream or vision. She saw a man with a very beautiful white beard. Who is this man? When her attention was drawn to the beautiful beard, she immediately recognized the image. Of course, it was her father. Each time the patient began to fall in love, the image of the father arose, thus preventing her from adjusting to the relationship with the person in question.

I have deliberately given this case as an example, as it is a simple and very typical illustration of how a marriage can be crippled by the wife's neurosis. I could bombard you with similar examples. Unhappiness is always too strongly attached to the parents, and the child remains a prisoner in the prison of his child-parent relationship. One of the most important aims of education should be to free the growing child from his unconscious attachment to the influences of his childhood, so that he may retain what is valuable in him and discard what is not. It seems to me impossible at the present time to solve this difficult question starting from the position of the child. We still know too little about the emotional processes of children. The first and only contribution to the literature containing factual evidence on this topic was published this year. This is Freud's analysis of a five-year-old boy.

Children's problems are very big. The problems of parents, however, should not be so great. Parents could be much more circumspect and patient in loving their children. Probably, many of the sins committed against beloved children by their overly indulgent parents could have been avoided if the parents had a deeper knowledge of the child's consciousness. For many reasons, I find it impossible to assert anything universally valid about the educational aspect of the problem. We are still too far from general commandments and rules; we are still doing the fieldwork shown in the case histories. Unfortunately, our knowledge of the subtle processes of the child's consciousness is so insufficient that we are not yet able to say where the greatest fault lies: in the parents, in the child himself, or in relationships, in the environment. Only examples of psychoanalysis, such as that published by Professor Freud in our Jahrbuch, 1909 (5), will help to overcome this difficulty. Such detailed and careful observations should be a powerful stimulus for all teachers to familiarize themselves with the psychology of Freud. This psychological approach to education can be much more useful than all of today's physiological psychology.