Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kathlyn Beatty and wanting to be like Daddy

A reader commented on my recent post on Family Constellation Therapy. It is remarkable that she recognized her own experience in our Constellation - that the child is being protected by the mother from the father - and she reinforces her observation by asserting that others have experienced the same.

She writes:
"That family constellation post got me thinking... It's the same feeling I used to have. That my mother stood like an insurmountable wall between me and my father. With her back turned on me. Actually, I used to have an audio-visual hallucination where I stood at the top of a gangway, trying to board the ship I knew, I would find my father on, my mother blocking the way for me. I tried to make her understand that I had to get onboard, in every language I knew. To no avail. She simply didn't hear me. Horrid. Having a nightmare while awake. Did you watch "Family Life"? I think, it's in the first or second part that Janice's father tells the shrink that he felt like his wife stood between him and Janice."

Is it true that I was protecting Chris in some way from his father, my husband? The Constellation doesn't lie, but there can be many plausible possible interpretations. A Constellation, if the participants are willing, provokes honesty and clears the air. My husband might have felt instead that mothers are meant to be closer to their children when they are infants, but he did not. Instead, he rightly objected to what he perceived as my shielding his own son from him. Ian is not close to his own mother or father and perhaps he is trying to close that gap with his own son, to make Chris him.

Ian's views of his own parents' dynamics are at odds with how I see my own father and mother. I used to joke that I got my father "as interpreted by my mother." My father wasn't that comfortable with his daughters when we were young, except when giving advice or instructions. So, my mother would be the messenger of whatever it was my father was thinking. Depending on who is doing the observing (mother/father/child), the separation of Ian and me in the Constellation doesn't have to be seen as malicious. It struck me as normal enough based on my family dynamics.

Family dynamics are complex, and there are many possible plausible explanations for what is going on. I choose to believe in just about any explanation that will allow us to move forward and heal. That's the beauty of Family Constellation Therapy.

Which brings me to Kathlyn Beatty. Why are we not surprised about her wanting to become transgendered? Kathlyn is the oldest daughter of actor Warren Beatty and his wife, actress Annette Bening. From a Family Constellation point of view, the only surprise is in the details. You can't predict exactly how the child will act out the assigned role. Warren Beatty, for anyone who has lived under a rock since the 1950s and hasn't followed Hollywood, has bedded more actresses than there are grains of sand on the beach. In a town famous for its casting couches, Warren Beatty stood out. The clue as to why his sexual appetite was so prolific has got to lie somewhere in the annals of his family history. His sister, Shirley MacLaine, who looks a lot like her niece, judging from the photos, is as successful and well known as her younger brother, but as a actress and writer, not as a serial womanizer. Shirley MacLaine has some interesting spiritual beliefs, such as in reincarnation. She has also contributed a chapter to the book in which I have a chapter, Goddess Shift: Women Leading for a Change.

It's easier to spot the parent/child connection within the Beatty family than it is in our own families, because the Beatty family is writ large. We all know what they've been up to. Daughter's wanting to change from a woman into a man surely must have something to do with Daddy. Mummy's side, no doubt, plays more than a bit part, too. Blame is one judgment that has no place here. German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger urges us to "accept what is." Family Constellation Therapy could help here to get to the possible motivations behind this and possibly untangle Kathlyn and family's unconscious desire for her to be just like Daddy.

On several levels, what Kathlyn Beatty wants to do is disturbing. The fact is she is only eighteen years old. To subject herself at such a young age to something that she may later regret is premature thinking. Sex changes involve surgery and a lifetime of powerful drugs. I suspect Kathlyn is too young to have anything but utmost faith in pharmacology. She has grown up in a world where Hollywood actresses, through the chemical magic of fertility treatments, can have twin babies past menopause. Face lifts are old school. Breast implants and botox are routine. To her, it would be like changing one's wardrobe, perhaps a bit more involved, but I doubt she is seriously aware of the downside. Waiting a few years and delving into the psychotherapy behind this desire, might prevent an act she may come to later regret.

I sometimes wonder if today's children who have opted, with their families' enlightened blessing, to become homosexual in orientation, will turn around in later life and accuse them of failing to prevent them from going ahead with something they now think they were too young to decide. Fashions come and go. Be wary of becoming fashion's victim.


  1. Let's turn this around, instead, and say that by the logic you are presenting, "once a schizophrenic always a schizophrenic" and there is no choice involved in changing it. I don't agree. There are also people who claim that they "didn't want to be gay" and took a number of steps or therapies or whatever it is that they did and say that they are no longer homosexual. Do I say, "no your beliefs are wrong?" If I find that I am subject to chronic colds and want to do something about it, I'll do something about it. If I feel I can live with it, I'll live with it. You refer to this kind of thinking process or beliefs as being outdated. Just think what a short time ago we all thought we were being correct by drinking bottled water and now bottled water is an ecological scourge. We are always on a pendulum of societal imposed beliefs.

  2. In the documentary A Brilliant Madness (it's on YouTube, but I can't find the relevant part right now) John Nash states that he chose to think rationally, asked what had him recover.

    It is a matter of choice. At least, it becomes one as soon as someone realizes that they have a choice. Which is exactly what the mh system does everything in its power to keep people from realizing.

  3. I agree. The person has to get to the point of realizing that they have a choice (which the mental health system downplays.) This is something that may not have been obvious to them before, if my experience with Chris is any indication.

    With regard to Anonymous's comment, I am by now sufficiently holistic to be of the view that children choose their parents as much as parents choose their children. They are here to teach us something. So, in a way, they choose to be homosexual just as much as they choose to be schizophrenic, just as I chose to be the angry child that I was. I rely a lot on Family Constellation Therapy and what Bert Hellinger espouses, and here is what he says about the following:

    A breast cancer victim may secretly want to die due to a woman's unconscious "war with her mother."

    Homosexuality may result because a boy unconsciously assumes the feelings of a deceased aunt or great aunt when there are no female descendants in the lineal family system.

    Rape and incest create a bond; the perpetrator must receive "due respect" before the victim can bond with another.

    Becoming transgendered involves heavy duty drugs and surgery in a way that homosexuality does not, and is therefore irreversible, or at least not to be entered into lightly.


I am no longer approving comments. All I ask is that you be respectful of others and refrain from using profanity.