Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Spain as a Model of the Narcissistic Family

"Spain: white shirt of my hope,
sometimes a mother,
always a stepmother"
from a 80s song by Ana Belen

I recently read a BBC article on the current political climate of Spain: Unrest drags Spain towards buried unpleasant truths. I could see three fundamental traits of the Narcissistic family in Spain's recent history:

  1. The demand for Peace at the expense of the truth
  2. The obsession with Unity at all costs 
  3. The penchant for re-writing History

When I was growing up, nobody ever talked about the civil war (1936-1939). When we studied it at school it was rushed. My parents never talked about it. My grandparents didn't either. As a child I didn't think anything of it, but once I moved abroad and started to look at Spain from the outside it struck me as odd, particularly since in Britain they are always talking about the war (World War II). At first I thought that maybe it was about shame. The shame of fighting your own people. And that might have well been a part of it; but in recent years that I discovered that this not speaking about the war was an intentional act. There is even a term for it. The BBC article put it like this:

During the early years of Spanish democracy, forgetting about the Civil War (1936-39) was not just a psychological necessity - it was a political choice. The "pact of silence" instituted after the fall of General Franco was seen as a price worth paying for rapid, peaceful transition to a functioning democracy.

Peace at the expense of not talking about what had happened it's just so similar to what Nfamilies do: shove everything under the carpet and pretend it didn't happen. If you read any material on the subject, they all say that this silence was to ensue a peaceful transition. But is this really true? How does not talking about things has ever helped a situation? It sounds to me that it was more about letting people off the hook, because in whose interest is it that something is not talked about? Isn't it generally in the perpetrator's interests? Confirming my suspicions in this aspect, the article said this:
The approach was codified into law, with the 1977 Amnesty Law guaranteeing a blanket immunity from prosecution for those suspected of crimes against humanity during the Franco era and the Civil War.
This part of the article also made me cringe:
"Independence for Catalonia? Over my dead body… and those of many soldiers." That was how Francisco Alaman reacted to the 1.5 million strong demonstration in Barcelona last month, with many calling for independence for the region.
There is Colonel Alaman, threatening to defend "the non-negotiable principle of Spain's unity even with our lives"
Non-negotiable principle of Spain's unity? What unity? Anyone that knows anything about Spanish history knows that any unity that Spain has had over the centuries since Isabel of Castile married Ferdinand of Aragon, has been superficial and always at the expense of oppressing people. Sound familiar?

The article goes on to claim that "Consequent on Spain's neutrality in World War II, Franco was tolerated within the post-war order." I really don't get how anyone can say that Spain was neutral: Franco's ties with Hitler and Mussolini are well documented. How he managed to convince the western world that Spain had been neutral is beyond me. 


  1. Interesting post Kara. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a fascinating post, Kara--I've often thought that the psychology of the dysfunctional family is replicated, like Russian dolls, in ever larger structures, from school to workplace to corporation, to government overall. The same logic of denial and disavowal seems to apply. I remember visiting Spain when I was in my early twenties, when there were still armed guards standing post on the streets of Madrid. And God knows, between the Catalan and Basque separatists movements, "unity" isn't a word that springs to mind about Spain!

    1. Hi CS, the Russian Doll analogy is very good. The guards are still armed as far as I know.

  3. Interesting. As I read, I sometimes wondered if this wasn't talking about the US, and then I couldn't help but think the world is actually run by Ns, and we sane ones are the ones keeping it from dissolving completely into their insanity.

    1. Thanks Judy. I think you are right about the world being run by Ns, who else would be interested in that kind of control?

  4. Hi Kara,
    this is a brilliant post. I know next to nothing about Spain's history, but I think that once you start understanding the dysfunction in your own FOO, you can apply that model to just about every human organization. Dysfunction is everywhere, it doesn't stop at the family. And I think cultures share in similar dysfunction, which makes it hard to see and hard to rise above. I think those of us who see this aren't just getting better; we're helping the whole world get better. Important work.

    Thanks for a thoughtful and perceptive post. It was a joy to read.


    1. Thanks Kitty, I'm thinking that whoever is in charge will bring the model of his own family dynamics to the organisation.That would explain how the dysfunction "transfers" to bigger arenas. I remember reading something along those lines in a book years ago, about how companies operate very much like families.

    2. Yes! I agree absolutely. Also, I have observed in my own life and friends in recovery, that we tend to get into work situations that somehow mimic or re-create our FOO dynamics. Not universally, but it happens. It's weird. It's like the Universe is giving us opportunities to work through our stuff. I know that might sound implausible, but I have seen it over and over again. Fascinating topic. --Kitty

      (don't know why, but I'm not getting the option to sign in as name/URL. That's why I'm "Swann 82.")

    3. Ah, the joys of technology... I was trying to get the photo in the other post to fit the frame and it just wouldn't do it either; there should be a blogger helpline ;)