By Cintia Liana Reis de Silva, psychologist
Bowen said there is a vital force, called differentiation, which is the instinctive ability that drives humans to mature and to become emotionally independent from the family, although no one will ever be able to acquire a complete emotional independence from it. This self differentiation phenomenon may begin in adolescence, last for several decades and sometimes it does not stop at all. On the other hand, the feeling of not belonging means a pseudo independence. The emotional cut and the separation from the family of origin is a problem that needs to be solved, for it brings great conflicts to the subject's life.
Bowen created a scale of maturity in which he explains and defines the levels of maturity. These are not related to age or life experience, but are passed from parent to child, that is, the greater the maturity degree of the parents, the greater will be the degree of maturity of the children. The basic differentiation is largely determined by a multigenerational emotional process. He speaks of possibilities and does not generalize at any moment.
Children and adolescents are highly influenced by their parents, by the way they live, relate, react, etc., and they learn to live from these early models. Not only the example of behavior, but mostly learn to use the same emotional repertoire, the feeling used, the thoughts, beliefs, ghosts and intrapsychic mechanisms.
At the lowest level of Bowen's differentiation scale, for example, is someone who is totally dependent on the feelings that others experience in relation to them and are not able to differentiate affection from intellect, grow dependent of the mass of the family “I” with a conglomerate emotional identity, and for their whole life, attract other dependency relationships of which they can borrow the power they need to function. They are lonely people, anxious, don't know how to relate with the world in a balanced and satisfactory way, and have a strong sense of inferiority, they do not create lasting relationships and feel uncomfortable in them. These are people who always act in order to go against the opinion of others, are often children born in disharmonious families, with a high degree of tension, with inattentive and immature parents. When these individuals grow up, their repertoire of values and beliefs is to oppose the belief of others, they are negativists and contradictory.
But what is maturity? It is the ability to follow their own values and principles, achieving the objectives they pursue, is to be responsive, assuming full responsibility for themselves and their own actions. To have a very keen sense of justice, to be ethical, humble, being able to be rational and less reactive, not be led by negative emotions. That's what I, as a psychologist, understand as happiness: this constant state of peace and security, the ability to act wisely before all things. Maturity also refers to the degree of self-knowledge, that is, the more one knows oneself, the more they also know their weaknesses, their emotional difficulties, their childhood wounds and what they need to improve to have a better quality in their relation with the world and the people around them; they will create good kids and will have a very nourishing relationship; they will feel comfortable in any place and in any company, because they know their limits, have developed a good self esteem and a good sense of value of themselves. No need to drink or to consume drugs to feel safe. Who is differentiated searches to see the diseased and tangled intergenerational models on their family, take what they want and leave what they don't want from their own family, understanding that they can do better than what their parents did, and improving future generations.
Age really does not define maturity. We can, for example, observe a 35 year old with a high degree of self-knowledge, which can accept and respect others, with a happy married life, forming a cohesive couple, but we can also find a 65 year old person dependent on their parents or their image, reactive, with a great sense of inferiority, who can not accept others, expressing a negative and rebellious behavior and who does not know to relate to any partner. They repeat with the world the relationship they have with themselves. The more we know, respect and accept ourselves, the more we know, respect and accept others. The world is a mirror of ourselves, it is with us just as we are with it.
To develop ourselves and improve aspects of the character, personality and temperament, is an ongoing process, if the desire to keep growing is positive. Experiences can help in this process of growth, but each goes through situations and uses them in his own way. The look of each observer distorts reality: no one experiences the same facts in the same way, because each one of us has different references.
To know well the history of one's family and of one's ancestors opens roads and innovative internal resources, opens a new existential awareness of belonging and at the same time of independence. To do therapy with the family angle is a great way to know the background ranging from the family, to change paradigms and improve life, but beyond the self-knowledge, the study and general knowledge can also be something that expands the universe of a person, that is, the more you pursue knowledge, specially on human fields, the more your repertoire expands and so your emotional life is enriched, improving the relationship with yourself and allowing you to live much more comfortable with the world emotionally.
By Cintia Liana Reis de Silva
Traduction: Sérgio Ramalhete