In a new and fascinating book, Family Secrets: Shame and Privacy in Modern Britain, professor of history Deborah Cohen traces the historical development of the current concepts of, and attitudes towards, shame and family secrets in Britain over the last two hundred years. As described in a press release about the book, the author explores what families in the past chose to keep secret and why, and how privacy eventually came to be viewed as a sacred right, while at the same time a contradictory idea developed that family secrets are destructive.
|Deborah A. Cohen, Ph.D.|
In my experience using my family systems-oriented psychotherapy model of treatment for repetitive and ongoing self-destructive and self-defeating behavior in individual patients, I without exception find repetitive and ongoing problematic interpersonal relationship patterns in the families of origin of the patient that both trigger and reinforce the patient’s ongoing difficulties.
I do not believe they are any of those things. My patients and I are often able to trace back the history of their family's dysfunction through the use of a genogram or emotional family tree. As we look back over at least three generations, we find family members of varying abilities and propensities experiencing various individual traumas and interacting with their cultural milieu and historical trends. In the process they develop habits that are adaptive to their situation at that time.
Another source of children for prospective adoptive parents came about during the World Wars. Apparently, in spite of the persistence of Victorian attitudes towards female sexualtiy, women whose husbands were overseas for extended periods of time often had paramours. If they became pregnant, they would often want to adopt out the baby in order to hide it from their husbands.