Today, Patrick Kennedy, of the famous Kennedy clan, has appeared on various television shows promoting his new book that breaks the silence of the Kennedy clan family protocols. His story is a classic example of families following familiar “scripts” generation after generation. His “cri de coeur” is a plaintive one as he reveals the psychic cost of keeping his personal life subjugated to the family legacy of the Kennedy “script”.
I will leave you and him to share his interviews and his book. Put simply, he cries out for the end of families that suppress the existence of pathologies that any and many families possess. The denial of them is more poisoness than the admission of them. In my book “see my book” and these blog pages I have often analyzed family behavior as that of a script that each participant learns as their role and plays it out each and every time the family assembles. This caustic re-enactment denies the authenticity of its cast members, and foists generational habits that grow more corrosive as each generation employs and imposes them.
The script of behavior that the Kennedy clan embraces, caps and represses (according to Patrick) each member’s own personal needs and truths versus the clan’s over-arching value system. You can explore his book itself for the details.
But such familial by-laws are not unusual. Some are more repressive and oppressive than others. But any such over-arching list of commandments is most always detrimental to the health and authenticity of its members. This is a heritage of the old world order…of the English/Irish old world traditions of a “stiff upper lip”, of “enduring without complaint”, of “making no excuses”, of “bearing up under life’s many hardships”. All of these values worked well in centuries past when life was filled with terrors and tragedies we could not control. And sadly as we know, the Kennedy clan has had more than their share of calamities within their family. The need to “bear up” was understandable.
That Patrick, as a later generation, would break this code and confess his own hardships from it, and urge others to speak out as he has, is appropriate for his generation and more modern modes of thought on how to handle personal and psychological problems, other than denying them.
He advocates abandoning that old script. It is too repressive…too dishonest. You can draw your own conclusions, but his current book tour and interviews brings vividly to our attention the many unhealthy “scripts of life” that haunt us all as others try to write our destinies to their preferences. Life evolves, and familial scripts that do not evolve accordingly grow evermore repressive and corrosive as they maintain themselves against the tide of modern thought. Patrick brings these lessons of a famous American and revered family into the current and doubting daylight. Apparently he is not popular among the clan for doing so. He gives courage to those among us who would also seek to improve their lot by breaking family taboos and speaking their own truths.