Georg Ivanovas From Autism to Humanism - systems theory in medicine


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IV. A schismogenetic case

A German woman in her end forties married to a Cretan and living in a Cretan village came to me with depression and sleeping disorders. She had been taking Tavor and other tranquillisers for many years. She also had seen some psychiatrists and the ambulance of the department of psychiatry at the University.

Her aim was to leave her husband, as he sat all day long in the kafenion, worked rarely and brought no money home. So they lived in poverty with their two children at the age of 15 and 17 becoming more and more problematic at school. She said that she would prefer to go back to Germany, but was afraid to find no job at her age. Also she did not want to tear the family apart. She asked me to help her to make a decision as she could not bare the situation anymore. What she told me about her husband was severe even for Cretan conditions. But I always refused to judge her husband. After some sessions I understood the schismogenetic process: The husband was not too fond of working, but if motivated he could work day and night. But he was very interested in sex. The wife wanted a good living condition but was not too fond of sex, but would participate, if motivated. As her husband did not bring in enough money she felt that she could not award his bad behaviour in having sex with him. But as he had no sex, he was not motivated to work. The result after some years was a quarrelling couple with no sex and no money and maladjusted children. Who was responsible? Blaming one side means to deepen the rift. In such a case every proposed solution might be a part of the problem and no solution at all. Helping her to leave her husband (as she demanded from me), would have driven her further into depression.

In discussing with her diffeent alternatives (going back to Germany, leaving the husband and living somewhere else in Crete), it actually turned out that those were no options for her at all. To solve the problem I proposed her to take money for having sex with her husband. It would be in the interests of both. May be this was a very male proposition and even shocked the women. But other solutions for her husband having sex, e. g., paying someone else or having a relation with the neighbour (he could not move too far as the car was broken and there was no money to repair it) made her even more furious. My proposition was an attempt to increase variety. She actually did not follow my advice. But she was not so strict with her complaints against her husband anymore. As there was no alternative place of living for her and she also did not want to change her sexual behaviour, it showed that the situation was the best possible for her. In fact, she was relieved by this discovery. She stopped taking anti-depressive drugs, stopped drinking, and especially the children changed behaviour and had an excellent development nobody had expected before. From time to time she called me, just to hear from me that she lives the life she wants to live.

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