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Fam Process. 2000 Winter;39(4):389-402.

Witnessing, wonder, and hope.

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Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Family Institute of Cambridge, MA, USA.


This article is based on a keynote address I gave in South Africa at the Eighth International Conference of The South African Association of Marital and Family Therapy. The phenomenon of witnessing is explored in a number of contexts, and a distinction is made between witnessing with and without awareness, and from an empowered or a disempowered position. I propose that the African philosophy of ubuntu--the emphasis of which is on the self in community, in contrast to the Western emphasis on the individual--may be a better fit for my view of hope, which, I propose, is not just a feeling but, rather, something people do.

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