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Unformatted text preview: t out and the parent’s need to help a kind of game. For
example, a child developed stomachaches in order to get affection from his
grandmother. Not only was this a way for the grandmother and grandson to
express tenderness for each other, it also added an element of drama to the Chapter 4: Strategic & Systemic
grandmother’s otherwise routine existence, but at a cost to the child. During
therapy, the child was asked to pretend that he had a stomachache and the
grandmother to pretend to care for him. They were to do this at home every day
for one week. Through the directive, the child and grandmother could still be
affectionate, grandmother was still needed and loved, but since the
stomachaches were no longer necessary, they disappeared.
Make-Believe Play. When a child protects his/her parents through symptomatic
behavior he/she is helping them covertly. Instead, Madanes (1980) asks parents to
make believe they need the child’s help and the child to make believe helping
them. Since the parents explicitly ask for help and the child overtly helps them,
there is no need for the covert symptomatic behavior. Additionally, when
parents intentionally assume an inferior position, they may feel at odds with
what is appropriate and reassert their superior position. For example, a mother
with several children was in fear of losing her welfare benefits because of a livein boyfriend. Her son sensed her fear and helplessness and developed night
terrors. His nightmares were both a metaphor for the mother’s fears and an
attempt to help her since she had to set aside her own fears to comfort him.
The family was asked to make believe that the mother was afraid because she
thought someone was breaking into the house and that she needed the child’s
help. The therapist designed a play in which the son was to make believe he was
protecting his mother. They were directed to perform this play every night at
home. If the mother heard her son screaming in the night, she was to awaken
him and his sisters and replay the drama, no matter th...
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- Spring '09