Table of contents
2. Summary of the case “Christiane F.”
3. Analysis of Christiane F.'s life
3.1 Explanation as a social worker with the help of Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory
3.2 Position in her family
3.3 Her experience in school
4. Presentation of the use of Social work concepts - what was done and what wasn't done in Christiane's situation and how could a possible approach look like?
4.1 Agreement on collaboration
4.2 Instrumental definition of the problem and co - creation of solution
4.3 Strength perspective
5. What could be a possible/ suitable social work approach in Christiane's case?
“Christiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” or translated to English “Zoo Station. The story of Christiane F.” is a non-fictional story about the real-life of German Christiane Vera Felsche- rinow. Christiane is a girl who moved to Berlin with her family when she was a child. She spent many years of her childhood and teenage-years in the 1970s capital of Germany, where the drug scene was booming, especially at the train station Zoo. Really soon, Christiane started going out, partying, doing drugs and later got addicted to the drug “heroin” that she and her friends cooler called “H”. With the age of 14, she everyday had the concern and therefore task to somehow organise her next fix, portion of heroin, she needed to first get the money for. The book which is analysed throughout this paper, is telling the story of Christiane F. and her addiction to “H”. The book is written from her perspective in the first person, what is the reason for feeling connected quite well to her, as a reader, and being able to at least kind of imagine how her life through her own eyes must have looked like. In the book, her point of view is added with the opinions of some adults that were her companions of her life in Berlin. The book also brought up the topic of the general ignorance of heroin addiction in the publicity how it was recognized at that time in Berlin and probably also in most of the other parts in the country. The society didn't feel attached or even responsible with the problem of drug abusing youngsters that in fact has already belonged totally to this community. Christiane F.'s story pictures the connection of an early heroin addiction, children alcoholism, the side effect of prostitution to get the money needed to buy the next “fix” and drug criminality.
2. Summary of the case “Christiane F.”
Before there is a more detailed analysis about the book “Christiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” in connection to social work theories and concepts, there is an overview about the timeline of important parts of Christiane's live presented in this chapter.
The first years of Christiane's life, she spent in a beautiful small village with a lot of possibilities for children to play in the nature and being creative. This time of her live, that she enjoyed a lot, she and her friends hung out with the animals of the “Völkl farm” and played many kid - games. The nature and animals have always given Christiane energy and positivity, what is described more into detail later on throughout this paper. Older children took care of the younger one and mostly everyone was playing in harmony with each other.
When Christiane was six years old, her parents moved with her and her younger sister to an apartment in Berlin-Kreuzberg, where she also started school. The main reason for the family to move there was her dad being passionate about starting a marriage agency together with Christiane's mom. Christiane has always adored animals in general and one aspect, that really made her proud about her family, was that most of the members also admired animals like her. When moving to Berlin, Christiane took four mice, two cats, two bunnies, one parakeet and her brown dog called “Ajax” with her. Christiane didn't like growing up in that area that much, because the apartment felt too big for her, was empty and dull, and she had not that many possibilities to play outside in the nature what also made her miss her old home. When her parents couldn't manage to fulfil their dream of the marriage agency the family moved to a much smaller apartment in a skyscraper in Rudow, a part of Berlin's area Gropiusstadt/ Neukölln. Her dad didn't get used to his failure of starting this business and got violent against his children and wife more and more often. One day this situation of domestic violence escalated what made Christiane's mom moving to her boyfriend together with her and her sister. However, Christiane disliked the new part of the family a lot and regularly found many reasons to start a fight. At some point, her sister also couldn't stand the situation anymore and decided to move back to her dad. Christiane couldn't get the reason why and was totally sad about her sister's decision. From that moment on, she was all stuck by herself in a flat with her mom and her boyfriend.
By the time Christiane started going to the secondary school, she immediately felt sympathy for “Kessi”, one pupil in her class. She also saw some kind of idol in her, because Kessi was behaving more grown-up than other girls that age and already had a boyfriend. A friendship between Christiane and her has started, and together they regularly paid a visit to the youth centre organised by the protestant church, “Haus der Mitte”, where Christiane tried hashish for the first time. Since then, she regularly consumed this kind of drugs and drunk alcohol with her new gang she became part of because of Kessi. Later or actually quite soon after, she also started doing trips and pills like “Ephedrin” or “Mandrax”. At some point, the “Haus der Mitte” was not exciting enough for her gang anymore, and that was the beginning of regularly attending the nightclub “Sound” at weekends. That was also the time when Christiane came up with wrong stories telling her mom about how she is spending her free time. Furthermore, Christiane began to not pay attention to school that much anymore. In “Sound” she got to know new people, and also Detlef, she fell in love with and who later became her boyfriend. In this club heroin started to really become a modern drug so that Detlef and his friends started taking it as well. At the beginning, one can say, that Christiane was against him doing heroin and also against this particular drug in general. However, more and more friends surrounding her started trying it and they apparently didn't stop - also Detlef kept going and it was just a matter of time until heroin reached out to Christiane.
One Saturday night out in “Sound” she went overboard and took too many pills and drugs, in the same time. She was feeling depressed and tried to kill her negative vibes through taking all of this: “Captagons, three ephedrines, and a few coffies (caffeine tablets) with some beer”. Because of the fact, that she felt so miserable the following day, Christiane told herself to stop doing drugs and stay sober. Her mom was there for trying to get her back on track but Christiane told her she had a bad flu and circulation problems. So again, she was lying about the real reason for her feeling that bad and her mom bought the story. In the book, Christiane mentioned, that she had the feeling that her mom was happy with any kind of explanation in these days. It was about three weeks she stayed “sober”, not completely because she took a couple of “Valiums” but for her it was a success. Also, she described this period as a really dark and sad one because on the one hand, she felt depressed and on the other hand, it was also the time when she and her family moved to Kreuzberg, close by the Berlin wall. The neighbourhood was indeed very bad, but the rents were cheaper and that marks the reason for the family's movement.
One day on Christiane's way to school, she spotted an amazing, and in her eyes the most colourful poster she has ever seen in her life, that announce a David Bowie concert in Berlin in the German Concert Hall. Immediately, Christiane definitely wanted to go there since she already has been a big fan of him for a long time so that she also collected a lot of vinyl - music records she was totally proud of. All the boys of the circle she was in, took him as an idol and tried to look like him: wide Jeans and leather shoes similar to Cowboy boots with a bit of a high heel. Christiane could convince her mom to get two tickets for her through her work. On the day of the concert, which was the 18th of April, 1976, one month before her fourteenth birthday, Christiane took “Chicken”, a friend of her from “Sound”, with her because she was fascinated about him looking so similar to David Bowie - he even dyed his hair to imitate him. His real name was Frank but because he was the first one in her clique who got addicted to heroin, everybody called him “Chicken”. Christiane and the others liked him a lot, especially because he was selfconfident, seemed more mature and was, like most of the boys in the gang, already 16-years old. At this point of her life, this David Bowie concert was regarded by Christiane to be the biggest event in her whole life until then. Having said that, this day marked a significant happening of her whole development concerning her addiction. That's why this evening should be presented more into detailed.
At first, it is worth saying, that somehow her initially totally rejecting attitude towards “H” has changed through her taking other pills so far, so that her barriers kind of dropped and she accepted people taking it. Anyways, Frank and Christiane went to this concert and even though Christiane for the first time recognized, how thin, tall and addicted Frank looked like, and she didn't like that outer appearance due to his heroin-addiction at all, it was her first time taking heroin after that concert. On top of that, she has also seen “Chicken” being on turkey during and after that concert, what finally didn't stop her from doing it.
And this is how everything happened that evening: After the concert, Christiane managed to get the money together to buy “H” for Frank who was so badly on turkey and his friend Bernd. Because of that, she had that thought coming up to her mind: she is the one who arranged the money for the drugs so there is no possibility that the boys get away from her without letting her try “H”, too. It just seemed so logical for her to get some of the heroin that she worked for and asked money for. Even though Frank was completely depended on her and on a complete turkey in that moment, he told Christiane not to do this drug because otherwise she will end up like him. However, she didn't care about this advice at all and was even more keen on trying heroin everybody around her is taking already. In this situation she really thought, that she is only giving it a try and that's it. She was convinced that she is not going to get addicted. For taking the “H”, she didn't use the needle like the two boys, she snorted the heroin instead. Even though she needed to spit out most of the dope she got high and felt incredibly good and relieved from all the pain she was feeling before.
This moment marks an important part and change in Christiane's live because from that day on she regularly sniffed “H”. Besides her, most of the friends she was surrounded with, were already “a step further” than she and injected it. By that time, she looked up to the heroin takers, that are cool and relaxed people, in her opinion, and regarded the “hashish” consumers as “fake”. In the following storyline, Christiane committed small crimes in order to get money for the shit. Detlef used to work at the train station Zoo prostituting himself in order to earn that needed money what he was telling Christiane when they first had sex with each other. Indeed, she was not happy with that at all, but accepted this side of Detlef whom he really loved. When she was 14 years old, she got her first push by a junkie what also made her injecting heroin regularly later on. Detlef then shared the money he made with Christiane that she also could manage to buy her next fix. Since December 1976, both of them were bodily addicted and were on “turkey” when they didn't manage to get the next portion of heroin on time. The couple most of the time stayed together at Axel's flat, a friend of them, which was extreme dirty and sordid.
In this flat more of their friends lived together and all regularly consumed “H”. After a time, it was not that easy anymore for Detlef to make enough money for both of them, so that Christiane did a hand job to an older man, from whom she was asked to do so in his car. That marks the beginning of her hustling. Having said that, she promised Detlef not to have sex with any costumer. Soon she managed to have regular clients. With Babsi and Stella, two of her friends, she built a group and they worked the streets together and helped each other out whenever it was possible.
Detlef and Christiane talked about quitting “H” almost every day, but it stayed empty words until Christiane injected heroin at her mom's flat one time what made her mom find out about her daughter's drug addiction. As a reaction to that, she helped Christiane and Detlef doing a withdrawal together at her flat. Christiane managed more often to get rid of her addiction but always started “H” straight after again what made her addicted again so that one can talk about some kind of cycle, she didn't manage to escape throughout the book. Christiane experienced a constantly change of being a heroin addict and trying to get rid from that shit for many times. Therapy in Narc Anon, a centre for drug addicts, that later turned out to be part of Scientology, a withdrawal at her dad's place, at her granny's place etc. - all approaches turned out to not work in the end and Christiane always got back to heroin. The book ends in that way, that Christiane was brought to relatives near Hamburg, a German city, where she was able to attend “Realschule”. Because of her past in Berlin, however, she was kicked off that school and could only finish her “Hauptschulabschluss”. At this last school, she made new friends and had a new boyfriend with whom she spent a lot of time in the nature. With Detlef on the other hand, she was not in contact anymore. It is not clear to the reader, how the situation with Christiane concerning drugs is, but she described dreaming about having a better life with a really good trip again. So, one can guess, that she didn't manage to stay sober forever.
3. Analysis of Christiane F.'s life
3.1 Explanation as a social worker with the help of Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory
Throughout this chapter, it is tried to analyse Christiane F.'s life. At the beginning, there is an explanation for how her life turned out to be from a social worker's point of view. This analysis includes the help of Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory which concept is attached at the end of this paper. In the following sub-chapters, the most important systems that Bron- fenbrenner described, and that had a strong impact on Christiane F.'s development, are presented more into detail. Having said that, it is not possible to mention all important contexts again (some of them are already talked about in the second chapter of this paper that gives an overview of the storyline), because of a shortage of space and time. (The Psychology Notes HQ, 2020)
From a social worker's perspective, one can say, that Christiane's life-world was her dreamworld she built for herself in order to forget about her daily life and environment she was surrounded with. The American psychologist, Urie Bronfenbrenner, formulated the Ecological Systems Theory to explain how the interaction between children and their environment is happening and how several factors influence one another. He therefore tries to understand the person's development and regards the child's environment as a multiple one. The model includes various ecosystems that are all having an impact on how a child is growing up. There are five levels described by Bronfenbrenner that influence the child in an external way. These levels are categorized from the most intimate level to the broadest. (The Psychology Notes HQ, 2020)
According to Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory, one can say, that Christiane's Microsystem, her immediate environment, was her family she lived with, which is her mom, younger sister and, at the beginning, also her dad. Furthermore, her peer-group and the schools she went to, influenced her behaviour at the smallest level of the model. Christiane isolated herself from her dad's and mom's convictions and lifestyle very early what was not recognized by her parents (or maybe it was, but they didn't want to realise and admit it) and then tried to escape to this dream-world that was supposed to be her shelter but turned out to be her biggest enemy that threatened to tearing her apart. She tried to distance herself from her family and got to know Kessi in school, who became her friend and included her into her own circle of friends. Through hanging out with these peers, she started taking more and more drugs, and finally ended up as a heroin addict. When Christiane was still living in the small German village, she was a good pupil who liked going to kinder garden or school. She mentioned, how familiar teachers and their students were to each other, and pinpointed the amazing relationship they usually had. This totally changed when moving to Berlin. Christiane recognized that the children didn't follow the lesson that attentive, were disrespectful towards the adults and the class itself was not having a strong connection. That's how she lost interest in school and didn't see any need to keep studying and even attending every single lesson. (The Psychology Notes HQ, 2020)
Bronfenbrenner describes the Mesosystem as the system which regards links of several microsystems and tries to unfold interweavings of these. Interactions between school and home or friends and family, for instance, are to be understood. Just to mention a few, one can say, that Christiane's mom always bought every excuses Christiane had to offer. That's the reason why she didn't find out that Christiane skipped school while she was prostituting herself in order to buy the next press. Her mom didn't want to put too much pressure on her daughter and therefore left her too much freedom so that she didn't figure things out. Also concerning Christiane's group of friends, you can point out, that she actually knew some of them. She really liked Detlef and even supported their relationship. Also, she was the person who bought the ticket for the David Bowie concert, on which Christiane sniffed “H” for the first time. All these interactions gave Christiane the opportunity to live her world she escaped to without any obstacles for a long time. It was possible for her to manage to hide her drug addiction from her family for quite a while. (The Psychology Notes HQ, 2020)
In the eco map, there is also the Exosystem, which involves linkages that may exist between two or more settings. Not all of them necessarily need to contain the child's development directly but influence them indirectly like, for instance, the mom's workplace or people they don't really interact with but who affect them anyways. Concerning Christiane's life-story, one can tell, that the dad's failure of self-employment with the idea to open up a marriage office, definitely had a strong affect on Christiane. He was never getting over the fact that he failed so many times throughout his own life and constantly made bad decisions so that he got violent against his wife and his children, too, so that Christiane's closest environment was falling apart. Another aspect regarding this level of the eco map is, that also her mom's workplace had an indirect influence on her in that way that only through her work it was possible for her to organise cheaper tickets for the David Bowie concert, on which Christiane tried “h” for the first time. One more factor of people affecting her indirect, is her mom's dad. He was always treating her daughter, which is Christiane's mom, very strict and was totally narrow-minded. He was the reason for Christiane's mom's decision to raise her in a more open-minded way because she wanted to give her a better life that she had when she was a child. However, her education method that gave Christiane plenty of freedom was not a suitable one for her. The exosystem also involves places, that kind of having an impact on the child's behaviour. In Christiane's development, the club “Sound”, for example, played a big role in her turning into a heroin addict. In fact, she didn't like the “Sound” at all. In one part of the book Christiane describe it as being nasty and unbearable without the use of drugs. For her this club was boring, smelled horrible but all the people she was surrounded with most of the time were there and she had an easy access to drugs. Even though her isolation from her direct lifeworld and daily life at home was there before, the “Scene” was the next step towards her going down. (The Psychology Notes HQ, 2020)