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eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
File size7.5 Mb
GanreNon Fiction
Release date 02.12.1992
Pages count240
Book rating4.11 (174 votes)
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This book gives an explanation of Bowen's family system theory.The first half of the book is heavy on the theory, and then the second half gets into a little bit of how to use it in real life.It doesn't read like a self-help book, and Gilbert gets props for not using words like "codependence" and other jingoistic psychobabbly words.She's completely blunt and realistic, and it's all well-written.

The basic theory is this: in order to have good relationships, you have to be a well-differentiated, individual self.This means that you have solid boundaries, and you can relate to other people without "lending and borrowing" the self, as Gilbert says.Or in my view, you can be friends with people without trying to become them or making them become you.Ironically, in order to work on being a differentiated self you have to do the work through your relationships.None of us are perfectly differentiated, so we can all improve our basic selves and our relationships.The less differentiated we are, the more anxiety in our relationships (because we get all tense about them), and the more they take on the following five postures, which can relieve anxiety in the short term but only mess things up more over time: conflict, distancing, triangling, under/over-functioning, and cut-off.

Conflict is fighting all the time.Distancing is avoidance, or avoiding talking about anything real (got elephants in the room?).Triangling is using a third person to avoid dealing with each other- the classic example is the couple that has a kid and hyper-obsesses about the kid to the point where it's the sole focus of their relationship.Gossiping is another example of triangling- if all you ever talk about is other people, you have a problem.Under/over-functioning is where one partner is the loser who can't do anything right, and the other is the over-achiever who does everything for the loser.Cut-off is when people completely end the relationship, as in divorce.Combinations of these postures can exist at the same time, and sometimes people cycle between them.Sometimes when people work on the superficial issues they think they're making progress but all they are doing is changing from one posture to another.

Probably the most important aspect of this theory is that undifferentiation and relationship postures are carried on from generation to generation.So it's not really your parents fault, but yes you learned it all from them, and they learned it from their parents, etc etc.Also your own level of differentiation and the postures you adopt in relationships are based on how you interacted with your entire family of origin, not just your parents.Gilbert stresses that in order to move up the scale of differentiation and have better relationships, we have to go back to our original families and work on our relationships there.This doesn't involve changing anyone else or acting like a therapist- all it involves is changing ourselves, and the way we relate to everyone else.

There is a lot more, I'm only scratching the surface here.

I am so glad I found this book, because it is convincing and explains everything clearly.I am motivated to try to work on myself, and I have some idea of how to proceed.Other books I've read on the subject were too barfy and jargony, or they touched on the surface of the issues without getting to the heart of the matter.

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