Someone on facebook mentioned that the writer of this article about not panicking when her husband said he didn’t love her anymore and wanted to leave, demonstrated “Bowman’s self-differentiation”. So I looked that up, and read this article. Basically, the lady in the first article didn’t let her husband devastate her. She achieved this by understanding that it wasn’t about her, it was about his midlife crisis and his career failure. She decided not to suffer. I wonder if she can also decide not to eat. Maybe she’s a control freak. I bet you $10 she’s skinny. Maybe it actually was about her and that’s why he wanted to leave. Maybe she is an expert controller and manipulated him into staying after-all. I’m not saying he should have left, but I think we should maybe be more insightful here and truthful about the relationship dynamics.

Bowman advocates people not being controlled by their family’s emotional manipulations, conscious or subconscious. He advocates detatchment, but not to the point of leaving. I guess you’re supposed to be able to stand each other, but not be influenced by each other. At least not negatively. He thinks confidence in one’s opinions while not feeling threatened by disagreement is the answer. The lady in the article, as are skinny people, can put off gratification. They can carefully strategize and slowly implement until they get what they want. She achieved his gratitude for their ideal family, which I bet was her idea in the first place.

What Bowman considers a failure, is withdrawal from the relationship. He may criticize unhealthy dynamics, but he seems to think ceasing those through distance keeps problems from being resolved, which will affect other relationships. I can see this how this is true, but I don’t know what the answer is. If a person cannot achieve self-differentiation and is thereby very negatively affected by family dynamics and the only way they can achieve relief from this anxiety is by distance, and this also makes them feel more distant from others, then it seems to me that their only alternative is to have unhealthy co-dependent relationships with everyone. Distance or co-dependence. I don’t think they know how to have healthy relationships either way.

The magic resolution is supposedly achieved by not demanding that other people change, but instead the victory is in not being upset by them. That seems Pyrrhic. It reminds me of Calvinists who have resigned themselves with patronizing tolerance to the total depravity of everyone around them.

Today our Priest in commemorating the Optina Elders said that before the Optina Monastery revival in the 19th Century, Russian monastics were largely focused on form and had forgotten the deep prayer life that the trappings are supposed to support. If someone finds deep relationship too painful, and has a habit of avoiding it, then they can hope that at least doing the trappings is more beneficial than leaving the forms and succumbing to angry, accusing, fruitless arguments.The alternative is, “should the fusion-demanding situation reach an unbearable stage, some members may seek greater distance, emotionally, socially, chemically, perhaps physically, for self-preservation. When communication is demanded, it is apt to be superficial, inauthentic, and brief.” All it says after that is that this must be resolved. But then it just says Bowman had trouble with it with his family of origin and that therapists can often times get unhealthily triangulated into the dynamic.

As with much of modern psychology, I think they are very good at describing the problems, but not so good at understanding the cure, or even what health looks like, as in my suspicion about the supposed happy outcome in the first article.

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