After more than a decade of relative neglect, self-concept is enjoying renewed popularity and attention by both researchers and practitioners.
Variations in this adaptiveness depend on several connected factors, including the amount of solid self, the part of self that is not negotiable in relationships.
For example, a person with well thought out principles enhances solid self, and will not be swayed by fads or opinions. A person with less solid self will feel more pressure to think, feel, and act like the other. This fusion between two people generates more chronic anxiety as one becomes more sensitive to what the other thinks, feels, and does.
Acute anxiety also plays a role. A fairly well differentiated person can develop symptoms under acute anxiety, but will probably return to adaptive functioning soon after. A less differentiated person may live in a stress free environment and therefore function quite well for long periods of time.
Level of differentiation refers to the degree to which a person can think and act for self while in contact with emotionally charged issues. It also refers to the degree to which a person can discern between thoughts and feelings.
At higher levels of differentiation, people maintain separate, solid selves under considerable stress and anxiety.
They manage their own reactivity and choose thoughtful actions. At lower levels of differentiation, people depend on others to function, and they develop significant symptoms under stress.
They act, often destructively, based on anxious reactions to the environment. Their intellectual reasoning fuses with emotionality. Even highly intelligent people can be poorly differentiated.
One cannot actually measure level of differentiation because it requires observation of multiple areas of functioning over a life course. However, the scale gives a way of conceptualizing variability in coping among people.
For example, the concept gives a way of thinking about variability in the functioning among children of the same parents. Some may think Bowen Theory appears too deterministic, but it actually promotes personal agency and improving one's life, the life of one's children, and the life of one's family.
The process of differentiating a self involves a conscious effort at strengthening or raising the amount of solid self by defining beliefs and principles, managing anxiety and reactivity, and relating differently to the family system.
People engaged in these efforts reap positive benefits for their own functioning, and they automatically raise the level of differentiation in the whole system.
A two-person dyad becomes unstable once anxiety increases. Then, one or both members of the dyad usually pulls in a third person to relieve some of the pressure. In a three-person system, anxiety has more places to go, and the relationship where it originated experiences some relief.
When the three-person system can no longer contain the anxiety, it involves more people and forms a series of interlocking triangles. Bowen researchers consider triangles a natural function of living systems.The Your Eternal Self Web site contains evidence that we are eternal beings having a physical experience and describes the nature of spirituality and how to grow spiritually.
The self is an individual person as the object of his or her own reflective consciousness. This reference is necessarily subjective, thus self is a reference by a subject to the same subject.
The sense of having a self – or self-hood – should, however, not be confused with subjectivity itself. Ostensibly, there is a directedness outward from the subject that refers inward, back to its.
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