Sunday, January 31, 2010

Theory, Theory. Everywhere.

So I've been doing research for a Family Systems Theory paper I have to write. We have to pick a presenting problem, either real or made up, in our own family. We need to do a bio-psycho-social assessment, apply different family system theories, create interventions, etc. I always struggle with writing - it does not come easy for me. However, the research part is where I excel. I wanted to be a Research Librarian for years (still have that passion, actually).

So, I have to find some theorists. I discovered Dr. Murray Bowen, who developed his own theory, aptly named Bowen theory. He focused on 8 concepts in his research. The most important aspect to his theory is called the Differentiation of Self, which really makes a ton of sense. Differentiation is when an individual is able to separate their thoughts from their feelings. A person of undifferentiated status feels so intensely that they hardly ever distinguish their thoughts from their feelings, and therefore, are incapable of thinking objectively. On the other hand, a differentiated person can balance the two, as they are able to resist being overwhelmed by their strong emotions and remain objective. An undifferentiated person reacts emotionally because they have no autonomous identity - they can't separate themselves from their family. On the contrary, a differentiated person has an established identity and is confident in their ability to think/act for themselves. The less developed a person's "self," the more impact others have on his functioning and the more he tries to control, actively or passively, the functioning of others. Bowen said "People with a poorly differentiated "self" depend so heavily on the acceptance and approval of others that either they quickly adjust what they think, say, and do to please others or they dogmatically proclaim what others should be like and pressure them to conform." Voilà! I think this says a lot about people who are able to think critically about their situation/environment and question it. They form their own identity by believing in their own thoughts and opinions, and not just follow along in the footsteps of others. I think this concept is fascinating.

Virginia Satir developed a concept regarding self-esteem. It is no secret that communication is the key to any relationship. Does you think a person with low self-esteem speaks up often, expressed their opinions, and communicates their concerns? Most likely not. As expected, Satir pointed out that a person with low self-esteem will likely be ineffective at communicating. Thus, increasing an individual's self-esteem would help the family system better communicate thoughts and feelings. Voilà!

Anywho - off to work on the paper.

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