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Identity and Entanglement Conflicts in Systems (Part 1)


What are Identity and Entanglement Conflicts?

Every person in every family system has their own unique position. A void develops when someone is removed from their rightful position. This causes other family members to stray from their paths and be drawn into the void unknowingly. They would then assume the role of the excluded person to fill the void, unintentionally developing a form of “identification”. This leads to a repetition of the excluded person's behavioral patterns and life experiences. We refer to this phenomenon as "entanglement conflicts".


For instance, consider a family where an uncle was kicked out of the house because of his gambling habits. He borrowed money from everyone and never paid it back. The family felt ashamed and disowned him. Surprisingly, a nephew in his early teens, from the same family, later did the same thing just like his uncle. Unresolved issues from the family's past can also lead to "identification." Those who have this kind of identification will unconsciously try to undertake the family's unresolved issues. In their own lives and relationships, they may express inappropriate or intense emotional reactions, resulting in a sense of "I understand these emotions, but I can't control them" or "It feels like I’m not myself".


Whenever people exhibit such unusual and intense emotions or behavioral responses that are difficult to explain under normal circumstances, we can suspect that there may be some kind of systemic entanglement conflict at play.


Many of life's challenges and misfortunes arise because we fail to recognize the entanglement conflicts within our family systems. Those born later in the family system are entangled in the fate of those born earlier, thus repeating similar events from the past. Even if their actions are inspired by love, they bear an inappropriate responsibility, leading to the continuation of past imbalances in identity and fate.


These identifications and entanglement conflicts are often blinding. However, from another perspective, if we can become aware and understand that these issues and the people excluded from the family are reenacted due to identification and entanglement conflicts, it provides us with an opportunity to address these issues. By allowing excluded family members to reclaim their rightful positions and confronting unresolved family issues, we learn the rules of life as well as the principles of love.


It's a two-sided coin. Many people and families get lost in this blind cycle of repetition, paying a steep price without gaining any insights. Therefore, the most significant feature of systemic constellations is to help people see and resolve these blind identifications and entanglement conflicts, enabling each person to reclaim their rightful place and live their own lives. The past ceases to be a hindrance and becomes a supportive force, assisting each person in realizing their unique life journey. Extracted from “Systemic, Family Constellation: Core Principles and Training Practices” by Chou Ting Wen



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