Ghosts in the Family: Discussion of Dr. Christ’s Paper

  • Peter Dunn
Part of the The Downstate Series of Research in Psychiatry and Psychology book series (DSRPP, volume 4)


There is something about being in a family session that can lead you to forget about the ghosts in the room, family members who have died but are still very much part of the family’s life drama. I want to thank Dr. Christ for this opportunity to comment upon his very moving presentation, which places in the foreground a family ghost, a 27 month old boy who died in 1956, and highlights his impact upon the family in 1980. In conceptualizing this case Dr. Christ invokes Erikson’s paradigm of developmentally successive levels of system organization, each inextricably linked to earlier adaptations. His tape convincingly underlines his point. We see how flaw lines in the family’s reintegration around the crisis of the death of their first child, do not emerge until nine years later in the transactions around the youngest son’s asthma and later his brain damage.


Family Therapy Brain Damage Family System Theory Family Life Cycle Dead Child 
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  1. Paul, N. The role of mourning and empathy in conjoint family therapy. In Family Therapy and Disturbed Families G. Zuk & I. Boszormenyi-Nagy (Eds.), Science and Behavior Books, Palo Alto, CA, 1967, pp. 186–206.Google Scholar
  2. Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, G.M. Invisible Loyalties: Reciprocity in Intergenerational Family Therapy Harper & Row, New York, NY, 1973.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Dunn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryDownstate Medical Center — KCHCBrooklynUSA

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