Ros McCarthy – Suicide, a Family Narrative on the Edge of Consciousness

THE LETTER 16 (Summer 1999) pages 57-77


For  many   children   who   experience  parental  suicide   there   is  a silence,  a  seemingly inexplicable discontinuity  in  the  family   discourse. Following  dramatic  events   there   are   also   technical   difficulties when working with  parents and  children.  How  can a context   be created  where children’s   stories unfold,  allowing for differences in understanding, cognition, readiness to question, to know  the  truth, their  truth? Should the family  be held  together  in family sessions avoiding further secrets  and dysfunctional  coalitions? It could promote connectedness,  meaning making and offer a sense of containment.  The family  is the context  within which   the  death   occurred, the  meaning of which  will  be  mediated  by family  members.   But  the  response  to  death,   to  what   it  means,   is  an individual experience. So while  disagreeing with  the  notion  of universal family  patterns and  responses, death’s meaning is mediated through self in  relation to  others  and  somewhere in  the  therapeutic frame,  self  and S\’Stem need to be addressed.

According to Pocock    the  link  between self and  system, between psychoanalysis and  family systems, has  to do  with  meaning and understanding  expressed consciously and  unconsciously through the narrative  of   plav   or  speech  or   both   media It is precisely these connections which  underpin work  with children and  parents. …

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