We have applied this larger picture approach to the current poli-economic theme of “globalization” and employed a wider lens to modify assumptions about:
ii. Human development
iv. Macroeconomic and governance policy development
Questions to be answered:
Do the current socio-economic and political issues of the country affect what goes on in therapy? Does it matter whether therapy is taking place in a blue state or a red?
My work was mostly for the benefit of children. Are the educational curriculum and behavioral expectations of red and blue states different? Do definitions of respect, decorum, ethnic affiliation, personal boundary and freedom definitions differ across the country or across different countries and cultures?
Are the ethics, schools, jobs and eco-political factors in small and medium sized cities different than in our mighty, urban megalopolis’s such as NY, LA and Chicago?
Do the definitions of marriage and intimacy have different meanings in different cultural groups?
Have the corporate needs of globalization and the mass immigration and population movement of the last thirty years affected our view of ourselves and our civic entitlements and responsibilities?
Are these questions relevant to the practice of diagnosis and therapy?
What is social cohesion? Why is it necessary and how does it happen? Does it affect what happens in the therapy room, the bedroom or the family home and table?
If certain governance and economic rules are changed, will society and families follow? For instance, if the Chinese government supplies universal health care and old age pensions for the first time, (as has been proposed) what are the chances of Chinese savers, families and individuals, becoming a country of spenders in the next five years?
Of course, this website is for all those interested in understanding more about the relation of cultural patterns to children’s development and adjustment. On one hand, we explore the “historical/political-economy” factors that contribute to the structures of a society. On the other hand, we use family systems theory to connect societal and cultural dimensions to both the parenting process and individual development.
Finally, we show the “circular self-perpetuating interactive patterns” that parenting shares with all components of large societal systems.
Isn’t that a mouthful? It needs slow digestion, doesn’t it?
It surely requires serious changes in assumptions and outlook from the traditional psychotherapy, mental health, self-help and social science literature.
Forty-plus years of clinical practice helping individuals and families and the last 15 of those years, specializing in treating parents for their children’s sake, has taught me a few things. Having raised five children has taught me more. The questions and answers generated during those years will be reflected on this site for your consideration. Because of a distinct road I’ve travelled in my personal and professional life, certain hidden and long term patterns of family life have come to my attention. Consequently, the concepts and dimensional relationships discussed here may at first seem remote; in any case, the immediate and short term solutions to everyday parenting dilemmas such as how to handle bedtimes, feeding schedules, and homework are not really a focus here.
Any clinician following a “systems” orientation (that’s me) will rather focus on more complex multigenerational and interactive concepts. In my work, there was always a clinical picture and clinical challenge of how to be most useful and effective with my real patients, the children; even while working exclusively with the parents. There was always prudent exploration of new methods; of new ways of thinking and proceeding.
Eventually some approaches although not popular, proved to be quite effective. Once the “what” and the “how” became clear, constant elaboration followed; until a stable protocol could be established. This obvious superiority of result led to the question of understanding the “why” of why it worked. The why became harder to explore than the actual treatment method. In fact, Dr. Murray Bowen, the founder of “family systems theory”, experimented with this method as early as the 1970s. However, I don’t think he followed up into the full “why” of its efficacy. The constant interplay of several dimensions simultaneously (systems, history, political economy, governance, societal institutions, multigenerational factors) may confuse even experienced therapists and readers.
For our purposes, “politics” refers to the accumulation and distribution of power by the larger group over the single citizen.
“Economics” refers to the accumulation and distribution of possessions, goods and the means of production and livelihood. (We do not include “money” because it is nothing more than a way to value the means of livelihood.)
“Geopolitics” is the distribution of power between national entities.
Even casual thought about these terms produces the conclusion that they are practically and theoretically connected to each other. But are they related to “parenting?” Yes. And yet all these, including parenting, are usually taught and practiced as separate disciplines. More amazing to me, the understanding and interaction of societal dimensions are almost never related to the more personal, family and individual related disciplines.
For instance, how many family therapists are conversant with the societal histories that formed our political and macroeconomic environment? Can we understand our current social environment without this poli-economic background?