Affiliated member of the WPA – World Psychiatric Association

The Acknowledgement of Suffering as a Precondition for Reconciliation

Gabriele von Bülow

Man can reconcile with others with whom he was in more or less great/destructive disagreement, quarrel and war, and also with himself, respectively with parts of himself or the – not (anymore) changeable – reality, life events and circumstances, a “blow of fate”. Thereby we can observe, in the relationship of ethnic groups among each other (the author refers to the South African as well as the Moroccan Truth and Reconciliation Commission as an example) as well as in personal close relationships, that the acknowledgement of suffered painful injuries – preferably by those who have inflicted the wounds! – is always an essential prerequisite for reconciliation processes.

In psychotherapeutic processes we often encounter this genuine strong need in the desire to experience this acknowledgement and a reparation from the people in the primary group who are held responsible for the suffering suffered.

In the best case this can be successful – but what if the parents are too old, too ill (physically, mentally) for a necessary confrontation and encounter? This desire can dominate in such a way that the representative empathic being seen by the therapist does not reach the patient and it can come to an arrest of the entire psychotherapeutic process up to a negative therapeutic reaction.
Two case vignettes from psychotherapeutic practice will illustrate both possibilities.

Dipl.Psych. Gabriele von Bülow M.A.

  • 1968 – 76 Studies of sociology, science of literature, philosophy and
    linguistics in Paris, Göttingen and Stuttgart
  • 1976 Magister Artium with a treatise on the semantics of the verbs ‘to hope’ and ‘to fear’
  • 1983 Dipl.-Psych. at the Technical University of Berlin – thesis on the
    „Formation of symbols and ego-demarcation – the conception
    of the transitional object by Winnicott“
  • 1984 – 87 Children´s and youth therapist at the Legastenics Centre of
  • Since 1988 Psychoanalyst and group psychotherapist
  • Since 1993 Training analyst of the German Academy of Psychoanalysis
    (DAP) at the Training and Research Institute (LFI) of the DAP
    in Berlin
  • Since 1999 Licenced Psychological Psychotherapist for Psychodynamic
    and Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy
  • Since 1997 Board member of the DAP and the LFI of the DAP in Berlin


  • 1993 Together with Irma Schindler: Schöpfung durch
    Kommunikation. Die Biosemiotik von Friedrich S. Rothschild.
    Herder Verlag

Numerous publications in journals. Main research fields: dance theatre as a medium for self-experience and psychotherapy; transgenerational transmission of traumata and their treatment; philosophical and spiritual aspects of psychotherapy

Dipl. Psych. Gabriele von Bülow M.A., Berlin, Germany

Magister Artium in theoretical linguistics. Licenced Psychological Psychotherapist for Psychodynamic and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapie and Group Psychotherapy. Training Analyst (DAP). Board member of the German Academy for Psychoanalysis (DAP) and the Training and Research Institute of the DAP in Berlin.
Main research fields: transgenerational transmission of traumata and their treatment, trauma psychotherapy, philosophical and spiritual aspects of psychotherapy