Here’s a fantastic resource we’ve just discovered, primarily for and about men, but likely of interest to women as well: MenWeb. It’s a sprawling and quirky repository of writings and speakings from over the years, by such original thinkers in the Men’s movement as Robert Bly, Robert A. Johnson, James Hillman, Marion Woodman, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Robert Moore and Sam Keen.
Bert Hoff Interviewed on Fathers
Bert Hoff has been the driving force behind this site, and here he is in interview with Lion Goodman on the recent Ultimate Men’s Summit. It’s a piece where he speaks gently of a powerful technique available to any of us with fathers, for clearing unfinished business:
L: Let’s talk about fathers for a minute Bert… a lot of men I know either had violent fathers that they pushed away from, or they had absent fathers that they yearned for, or they had mysterious fathers that where there but were cold and incommunicative. Do you have any suggestions for the men in this conference and who somehow want to reconnect to the father that they never had or didn’t want?
B: I have an example that they might like.
L: Is this something you can lead us through now?
B: … I can lead you part way through it now…
[speaks slowly with long pauses]… Sit back and take a deep breath… close your eyes and take another deep breath… now visualise a chair opposite you… your father walks in… and he sits down in the chair… you look into his eyes… and you tell him what you need to tell him… [long pause]… you’re telling him about all the feelings that you have… [very long pause]… reach down inside yourself… find those feelings, and express those feelings to him… he does not make any replies, this is your opportunity to tell him what you need to tell him… [long pause] Now thank him for his time, and tell him “I love you, I know you did the best you could with what you had”… [pause] Thank him, rise from the chair and leave the room.
Now return from the space you’re in into the real world… five, four, three, two, one… we’re now in the real world. Now when you’re in the real world, write a letter. You don’t need to mail it… take the time to write a letter, and then when you’re complete with writing the letter, do something with it ritualistically. You can mail it, you can burn it, you can send your thoughts into the universe… whatever ritual will help you close with your father. And I hope that that is a lot of help to a lot of men.
L: That was great Bert, thank you. And probably to women too, we have women on the line as well, and women have issues with their fathers in the same way as men do of course, women have also experienced the absent fathers, the violent fathers, the unknowable fathers, and we all have that father wound.
Family of Origin Work
We highly recommend the wealth of knowledge and understanding on MenWeb. And of course, we recommend the process of psychotherapy in working through family of origin issues, around our fathers and our mothers, issues that if unaddressed can keep us locked in unconscious patterns of defence and pain.
- See also: Depth Enquiry: Gestalt Meets EMDR