Why is a family a system?

First of all let us have a look at how a system is defined:

In Late Latin “systēma” and Greek “sýstēma” system would be defined as a whole compounded of several parts.

Today’s general definition sees system as a group or combination of interrelated, interdependent, or interacting elements forming a collective entity.

Given this we can see the family as a system being the individual part of a greater whole – the family system – in whose context individual behaviours, feelings and attitudes have to be understood.


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Bert Hellinger, ” the founder” of family constellations, discovered that the family system, just like any other system, has its own natural order and when that order is disrupted, the effects are felt by future generations as the system tries to right itself. There appear to be certain natural, unspoken laws operating to maintain the order and permit the free flow of love within the family. We, as family members, are largely unaware of this and thus most of us unconsciously violate these archaic laws. The hardest thing to understand is, that we do this not out of rebelliousness as one might expect, but out of love – a kind of ‘blind’ love.

Given this system frame and knowing about the archaic laws, during a family constellation we can discover the violations and support the flow of energy to find its balance according to the orders of love. This balance cannot be achieved through brain work or thinking, but – just like everything that has to do with love – only throughout presence, intuition and awareness. When everybody in a family constellation feels relaxed in his or her position, and things feel ‘right’, we can assume that things are in order, i.e. following the order that is right for that system.