Where live our most cherished (or painful) memories? Where do our beloved (or dreaded) exist when departed? In the gray zone between our self and our world, they can exist as internal reminiscences for some and striking images for others; individually or collectively perceived and interacted; vividly or as tenuous presences. This book familiarizes us with six examples of individuals and families in therapy who live and interact with the presence of their absent, pivotal people in their lives who either died or disappeared, but are still there. It familiarizes us with their plight in a tender, compassionate style, describing in detail interviews and therapeutic transformations and, in several cases, follow-ups as well as echoes of those processes. It teaches us to respect those presences as well as how to help families and individuals treasure them...and in many cases to let them go. Written in a vivid, intense language, The Presence of the Absent offers a marvelous insight into these processes that may prove transformative for the therapist (both family and individually-oriented), as well as enlightening to the general public.
Foreword Salvador Minuchin 1. Ethereal Presences 2. Forbidden Words, Forbidden Thoughts: Semantic and Somatic Effects of Political Repression in a Family with a Hole in its Center 3. Rekindling the Experience of Freedom: Ghosts of a Dictatorship and Reverberations in a Liberating Process 4. House Taken Over: Culture, Migration and Developmental Cycle in a Moroccan Family Overtaken by Ghosts 5. The Ancient Cult of Madame: When Therapists Trade Curiousity for Certainty 6. The Naming: The Awakening of Two Ghost Children 7. Saudades at the Edge of the Self and the Merits of "Portable Families" 8. Wrap Up