Citation
Effects of family of origin processes and father-son relationships on midlife male intimacy

Material Information

Title:
Effects of family of origin processes and father-son relationships on midlife male intimacy
Creator:
Wagoner, Larry D., 1948-
Copyright Date:
1994
Language:
English

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Anxiety ( jstor )
Child psychology ( jstor )
Families ( jstor )
Fathers ( jstor )
Intimacy ( jstor )
Men ( jstor )
Mothers ( jstor )
Parents ( jstor )
Sons ( jstor )
Triangulation ( jstor )
City of Jacksonville ( local )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright Larry D. Wagoner. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
33486666 ( OCLC )
AKP2599 ( LTUF )
0021876679 ( ALEPH )

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text










EFFECT'S OF FAMILY OF ORIGIN PROCESSES
AND FATHER-SON RELATIONSHIPS
ON MIDLIFE MALE INTIMACY










By

LARRY D. WAGONER


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCT OR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


1994




























Copyright 1994 by

Larry D. Wagoner


F-













ACKNOWLEDGEMENaIM

I wish to acknowledge my family of origin, whose legacy served as an inspiration for both my career in family therapy and this research. I also wish to acknowledge my wife, Janelle, and my children, Jennifer and Nathan, who not only have been loving and supportive, but have provided me with a context of richness of love and intimacy where I have furthered my self -differentiation and my attempt to promote a healthier, freer legacy.

I also wish to acknowledge the support, dialogue, and creative editing of Dr. Ellen Amatea, my doctoral chair. Also, Dr. Peter Sherrard assisted in promoting an integration of my religious and psychological background. Dr. David Miller provided patience and assistance with the statistical analyses. Finally, Dr. Sam Hill has not only been helpful in suggestions and editing, but his reminder of allegiance to ethical thinking and promoting healthier subsequent generations has reminded me of my original roots and values.


iii












TABLE OF CONTENT'S

Page

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ......................................................... iii

LIST OF TABLES ............................................................... i

ABSTRACT.......................................................................... ix

CHAPTERS

1 INTRODUCTION........................................................1

Scope of the Problem.......................................... 3
Theoretical Framework.......................................1 6
Need for the Study.............................................2 8
Purposes of the Study.......................................... 29
Research Questions.............................................. 30
Definition of Terms.............................................. 31
Organization of the Study..................................... 36

2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE........................... 38

The Psychoanalytic View of Family Influence....... 38
The Male's Family Role in Psychoanalytic
Thinking.................................................... 46
The Tasks of Parenting in Analytic Thinking ........ 60
Trans generational Dysfunction:
A Bridge to Multi generational Thinking......... 74
Multigenerational Patterns ................................... 90

3 METHODOLOGY....................................................... 104


iv








Research Design and Delineation of Variables ....... 105
Family of Origin Process Variables ............. 106
Current Relationship Process Variables ....... 109 Relational Adaptability and Cohesiion.........111I
Father-Son Family of Origin Process
Variables ............................................ 11 2
Population ........................................................ 113
Sampling Procedures........................................... 114
Resultant Sample............................................... 11 7
Instrumentation................................................ 122
Demographic Information Questionnaire ....122 Marital Satisfaction Scale (MSS).................. 123
Personal Authority in the Family System
Questionnaire (PAFS-Q)......................... 124
Family Adaptability and Cohesion
Evaluation Scale II-Couples Version ....... 127
Data Collection Procedures ................................... 129
Research Hypotheses........................................... 130
Hypothesis One......................................... 130
Hypothesis Two ........................................ 1 31
Hypothesis Three ....................................... 1 31
Hypothesis Four......................................... 13 1
Data Analytic Procedures ................................... 132

4 RESULT'S................................................................ 133

Research Hypotheses........................................... 133
Hypothesis One......................................... 133
Hypothesis Two ........................................ 141
Hypothesis Three ....................................... 146
Hypothesis Four........................................ 147

5 DISCUSSION........................................................... 152

Discussion of the Results...................................... 153
Hypothesis One......................................... 153
Hypothesis Two ........................................ 155
Hypothesis Three ....................................... 157


V








Hypothesis Four........................................ 1 58
Limitations of the Study..................................... 164
Suggestions for Future Research......................... 166
Implications of the Study..................................... 168
Summary and Conclusions .................................. 170

APPENDIX

DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION QUESTIONNAIRE ...173 BIBLIOGRAPHY .......................................................... 176

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.............................................. 191


v i




71


LIST OF TABLES

Table PAU

3.1 Means and Range of Age, Length of Current Relationship, Number of Marriages, Number
of Children, and Ages of Children.................................. 11 9

3.2 Frequency Distribution of Descriptive Variables............ 11 9

4.1 Analysis of Variance of Intergenerational Intimacy by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status..................... 135

4.2 Analysis of Variance of Intergenerational Fusion by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status ..................... 136

4.3 Analysis of Variance of Intergenerational Intimidation by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status..................... 138

4.4 Mean Scores of Intergenerational Intimidation by Group and Race..................................................... 138

4.5 Analysis of Variance of Intergenerational Triangulation by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status..................... 139

4.6 Analysis of Variance of Personal Authority by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status..................... 140

4.7 Mean Scores of Personal Authority by Group................ 141

4.8 Analysis of Variance of Spousal Intimacy by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status..................... 143

4.9 Mean Scores of Spousal Intimacy by Race..................... 143

vii







4. 10 Analysis of Variance of Spousal Fusion
by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status..................... 144

4. 11 Mean Scores of Spousal Fusion
by Satisfaction Groups................................................ 144

4. 12 Analysis of Variance of Nuclear Triangulation
by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status..................... 145

4. 13 Mean Scores of Nuclear Family Triangulation
by Satisfaction Groups................................................ 146

4.14 Correlation Analysis of FACES TI-Couples Version
and Group (Marital Satisfaction Scale) .......................... 147

4.15 Correlation Analysis of FACES IT-Couples Version
(functional types) with Spousal Intimacy, Spousal
Fusion/Individuation, and Nuclear Family
Triangulation.............................................................. 149

4.16 Correlation Analysis of FACES II-Couples Version
(functional types) with Father-Son Intimacy,
Father-Son Triangulation, and Father-S on
Intimidation............................................................... 150

4. 17 Correlation Analysis of FACES TI-Couples Version
(functional types) with Intergenerational Fusion/
Individuation and Personal Authority........................... 1 51


viii













Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

EFFECTS OF FAMILY OF ORIGIN PROCESSES AND
FATHER-SON RELATIONSHIPS ON MIDLIFE MALE INTIMACY By

Larry D. Wagoner

December 1994

Chairperson: Ellen S. Amatea
Major Department: Counselor Education

This study utilized transgenerational family system theory as a conceptual framework for exploring the relational functioning of midlife men who differed in terms of their relationship satisfaction. The perceptions of family of origin interactional processes and fatherson interaction of two groups of men who differed in their reported relationship satisfaction were compared. Also, relationships among family of origin interactional processes, father-son interaction, and perceptions of current relationship functioning were explored.

Eighty-two men who were self-selected participated in the


ix









study. The men ranged in ages from 35-50 and were drawn from African -American and white male subgroups and from lower and middle class socioeconomic groups. Each was married or living with a partner for at least one year, was heterosexual, and was the biological father of at least one child, had at least a high school education, and had been employed for the past five years. Participants completed four paper-and -pencil assessments, which evaluated five family of origin interactional processes (fusion, intimacy, triangulation, personal authority, and intimidation), three current relational processes (fusion, intimacy, and triangulation), and current relationship structure (adaptability and cohesion).

Using three-way analyses of variance procedures, the effect of level of relationship satisfaction on scores on each of the five family of origin variables was assessed after controlling for race and socioeconomic status. The results of these analyses revealed that two out of the five variables --level of intimidation and extent of personal authority--significantly differentiated the satisfied and dissatisfied group. The satisfied group reported significantly lower levels of intergenerational intimidation (p<.019) and significantly

x









higher levels of personal authority (p<.046) than the dissatisfied group. Additionally, there was a significant difference by race (p<.007) in the level of intergenerational intimidation reported, with black men reporting significantly more intimidation than white men.

Three-way analysis of variance procedures were also used to analyze the responses of the men's perceptions of current relational functioning on each variable (intimacy, fusion, and triangulation) by satisfaction level, after controlling for race and socioeconomic status. There were significant differences noted an all variables (p<.001) by group, with the satisfied group reporting significantly higher levels than the dissatisfied group (more intimacy, less fusion, and less triangulation). In contrast, the results of the analyses of perceptions of father-son relationships revealed only one significant association of father-son triangulation (p<.Ol 1).

Possible explanations -and implications for these findings were discussed, along with directions for future research in this area.


xi












CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Sons who experience closeness, nurturance, and guidance from their fathers become the kinds of husbands who are able to be intimate and committed to their wives and close and stable in their interactions with their children. This is the belief held by many mental health professionals and advocates of the "men's movement." Illustrative of this way of thinking is the work of Pittman (1993), a family therapist and author of Man Enough: Fathers. Sons. and the Search for Masculinity, who suggested that we need a "men's movement" that affirms and endorses the reality that boys need fathers, in addition to mothers, to nurture them, to exemplify a stable identity as a male, and to be a guide towards being a man.

Popular music reverberates with a similar theme of "father hunger" through songs such as the remake of "Cat's in the Cradle," a song about fatherhood written by Harry and Sandy Chapin in 1974. Capturing the yearning of a growing son for closeness and experience with his father, this song depicts father's busy-ness and how it keeps his son at bay until the day in the son's adult life when the father


I





2



reports that "He's grown up just like me. My boy was just like me." Such books and music would have us believe that if only fathers reclaimed their rightful place in the rearing of sons all would be well.

But are midlife men's difficulties with emotional closeness and/or commitment a result only of the quality of their relationship with their fathers? What of the broader web of relationships in which father and son relating has been embedded: the interplay of mother with father, of mother with son and father, of father with son and mother? Family systems theorists suggest that rather than examining only the interaction between father and son, the style of interaction of the family unit as a whole should be the focus of examination because it is in the whole of family interaction that relational competence is shaped. Interestingly, there is very little research evidence that supports either view: either that father-son relating predicts later life relational competence or that motherfather-son relating predicts later competence. This study sought to explore this issue by examining how well midlife men's current relational functioning and satisfaction can be predicted based on family-of -origin relationship factors or on father-son relationship factors.





3


Scope of the Problem

There has been a groundswell of interest in recent years in examining the relationship between midlife men's psychological development and their current patterns of involvement in work and family life. Theorists describe midlife men as particularly vulnerable to questioning their commitments and competencies. For example, in Levinson's model of male midlife development (Levinson, 1978) as well as in Erikson's model of psychosocial development (Erikson, 1968), men who have done poorly at the young adult level in resolving the tasks of "intimacy versus isolation" are depicted as more prone to dependent intimate relationships in later life. As these men pass through their 40s and enter the struggles of the "ogenerativity versus stagnation" stage, they are pressed by society to commit their full resources to fulfill career ambitions and to maximize their socioeconomic status. Such men are often found fluctuating between the former dependent posture of blaming their partner for their lack of relational success or assuming a workaholic posture that, in its drivenness, keeps the partner distant and the relationship of lower priority.





4


From a family systems perspective Williamson (1982a) theorized that the midlife man would be at his clearest and strongest place to exert an integrated self-authority characterized by confidence and self -differentiation. However, if midlife men experienced anxiety rather than competence, they would demonstrate this through ineffective interactive processes.

In the popular literature, explanations for midlife men's intimacy difficulties have focused on "the absent father syndrome" (Williams, 1992). Fathers who have been characterized as incapable of providing the kind of emotional presence and support their families need are described as men who did not have their own emotional needs met when they were growing up. This is said to result in the emergence of a kind of man who denies and minimizes emotions and meaningful aspects of life; who is either distant or wears his emotions on his sleeve (especially anger); who often appears empty and disappointed, with few memories of his own childhood; and who longs for appreciation and relationship, but often loses out and then blames himself for the loss. Other popular authors such as Bly (1990) have underscored the need for a father's presence





5


in the lives of sons. Applying the concept of "mimesis" to explain the need for the father-son relationship, Bly wrote:

Now, standing next to the father, as the two repair
arrowheads or repair ploughs, or wash pistons in gasoline, or care for birthing animals, the son's body has the chance to retune. Slowly, over months or years, that son's body strings begin to resonate to the harsh, sometimes demanding, testily humorous, irreverent, forwarddriving, silence loving older masculine body. Both male and female cells carry marvelous music, but the son
needs to resonate to the second as well as to the first. ...
Sons who have not received this tuning or retuning will
have father hunger all their lives (Bly, 1990, p. 94).

But is it a matter of just being there, side by side? Such poetic declarations not only underscore the public's thinking about the costs of men's lack of involvement in parenting, but they epitomize the perspective taken by early researchers in this area.

The earliest perspective taken by researchers studying how men's psychological development was shaped by early life experiences assumed that life without a father resulted in severe psychological disturbance for young men. The work of Mittscherlich (1963) illustrates this perspective. As chronicled in the book Soc~kiy Without the Father: A contribution to Social Psychology,

Mittscherlich assumed that children/young men raised in fatherless homes would demonstrate significant psychological impairment.





6


Three fatherless situations were studied--the Kibbutz, the American Black family, and individuals who had lost their fathers by death or abandonment between the ages of four and six. Kibbutz children were reported as less emotionally alert, materialistic, less interested in ultimate concerns, showing loyalty preferences for peers over their family members, but still seeking out and identifying with a direct father substitute. In contrast, among the Black families studied, "big Mama," who was a masculinized female authority, or an older sibling, became the father substitute while the father was often seen as estranged from the family. Fatherhood came, then, to equate with "Black power," with fathering often seen as militant. Different still were the early loss survivors. These tended to construct an abstract image that brought a sense of an indirect presence, but was often a sadistic introjection. It was not in order to "be like a father" but to have a strong internal father to handle the boy's ambivalence about mother. The inferences of the study were that such arrangements were unacceptable and probably harmful.

Although there is an intuitive appeal to examining the influence of father's presence or absence on son's later life development, there has been limited research evidence compiled





7


that suggests that the mere presence or absence of a father is the causal factor in male psychological adjustment. Many of these research efforts have been based on psych odynamic ally oriented developmental theories, which have attempted to identify what men have been about as well as, or other than, their involvement with partner and children. These researchers and theorists have attempted to show that men, as stereotypically demonstrated in their stages and processes, may be unable to be good nurturers. The theories, however, have been male biased (Gilligan, 1982) in the sense of how the stereotypes of men in society have been incorporated into the theories of human development. How men are currently understood in light of the developmental theories of Erikson, Levinson, Kohlberg, and Piaget may be an incorporation of the shift from a rural, trade, and craft society to the urban and industrial movement originating in the 19th century (Gadlin, 1977). Gadlin explained how the world became "work" rather than "family." Experiences such as intimacy now became needs that one must strive to achieve in the demanding schedule. Men were often found securing affiliation needs more so on the job or at the pub on the way home than with spouse and children. Erikson's notion of





8


itgenerativity," in this context, appears to be a social rationalization to promote conformity to a distorted and stressful arrangement. Even though women are now in the work world and even though a growing number of men claim a desire for more involved child care, the promotion of a claim of simple gender differences when it comes to affection and relationships has continued.

Several studies have been conducted that document the fallacy of the claim that men cannot, by nature, be nurturers or good receivers of nurturance. Sawin and Parke (1979) observed dozens of mother- to-newborn and f ather-to -newborn interactions. In the feeding it was found that fathers were just as active and just as sensitive and elicited just as many responses with the baby as did the mother.

During the 1970s a second approach to identifying those variables affecting men's relational competence and adjustment emerged with the conceptualization that differences in men's relational competence were tied to qualitatively rather than quantitatively different dyadic experiences with their fathers. The psychodynamic theories of John Bowlby, Margaret Mahler, Melanie Klein, and D. W. Winnicott were often used to interpret the nature of





9


the influence of early childhood events on men's personality development. While John Bowiby's extraordinary work on attachment and separation helped to frame the importance of the quality of the caretaker's relationship during the early childhood years, certain object relations theorists such as Margaret Mahler, Melanie Klein, and D. W. Winnicott delineated a very distinctive role that fathers were purported to have in their children's development. Mahler (1979b) theorized that during the rapprochement stage (a stage in early childhood in which the toddler realizes that his/her love objects are separate from him/herself), father was seen as the object coming toward the child as if "from outer space." According to Mahler, when mother became too intense with feelings and frustrations, it was the father who served as a relief and, subsequently, a resolution of the mother-child ambivalence. Mahler believed that father needed to be "cathected" as a second attachment for the child before rapprochement so that separation experiences could be experimented with by the child alternately with mother and with father with the assurance of the other's nurturance. Mahler believed that if the child could experience adequate object constancy in this way with both mother and father, then normalcy in





10


personality and relationality would occur. If an inadequate resolution occurred, there would be either a resultant intrapsychic conflict, which would later manifest itself as a neurosis, or the development of an incomplete personality structure, resulting in a narcissistic or borderline character disorder.

Samuel Osherson (1986) provided a modern day interpretation of the tenets of psychodynamic theory. He contends that many men have persistently missed out on positive personality growth by being denied nurturance from their fathers and by denying themselves active participation in the parenting of their children. He further asserts that men cannot arrive at a helpful definition of male intimacy because of distorted images of their own fathers. Left to natural consequences the man either acts out with his partner and children what he got or did not get from his father, or he remains in his deprived inner child and punishes himself by remaining peripheral and isolated from his family.

Although the influence of the father-son and mother-son relationships on later life relating is given considerable weight by a number of clinicians and social change advocates, there has been limited empirical research substantiating the pivotal nature of the





I1I


father-child relationship. Much of this research has been conducted as an attempt to determine the etiology of mental illness. In his observations of families over the years, Kohut (1977) concluded that there were many patterns of parental failures that were well beyond a more simple intrapsychic conflict in the adult child. Confirming an important role for the father, Cohen and his associates (1954) carried out intensive observational studies of the families of manicdepressive psychotic patients. They determined that the father element was central: mother blamed father, mother became strong and dominant but cold, father was weak but lovable, and one child was seemingly selected to make up for father's failure. Beck (1967), in his diagnosis and treatment of depression, reaffirmed these postures and their tendencies to be passed on to the next generation. Beck concluded that the depressed person possessed a cognitive set that preceded affect and behavior. He believed that thought and interaction patterns, in both the minds of his patients and in their family relationships, explained the etiology of depression.

Lewis (1989), in his longitudinal study of marital couples, reported a significant correlation between a man's positive recall of his own father's fathering and his current relationship interaction





12


and satisfaction. His study, which measured over 60 family of origin variables, serves as a bridge toward a consideration of more complex formulations of the father-son relationship quality.

During the 1980s and early 1990s a third approach to identifying those variables affecting men's relational competence and adjustment gained ground. In this conceptualization differences in men's relational competence were hypothesized to be tied not just to qualitatively different dyadic experiences with their fathers, but to the overall emotional and interactional process of the family of origin. Theorists became intrigued by questions such as "How do certain emotional processes shared by the entire family of origin affect a man's (or woman's) psychological adjustment?" and "What specific patterns of intimate relating shape a person's relational competence?" Family systems theorists operating from this third perspective proposed that family-wide styles of interaction shape the ways men and women respond in intimate interaction with their partners and progeny.

Additional factors that may influence the etiology of male relational competence are racial group membership and socioeconomic status. Although these variables are assumed to have





13


significant effects, very little research has been conducted to ascertain their actual effect on relationship functions and intimacy. Boyd-Franklin (1989) in Black Families in Therapy: A Multisystems Aproac argued that Blacks more than Whites are particularly vulnerable to the effect of multigenerational transmission issues. Black families have a high frequency of "family secrets" with the most toxic ones often falling under a rule of "never to be discovered." Boyd-Franklin explained that within such rigidity, patterns become unconscious. The family members are unaware that repetitions are occurring. Black males, then, are apt to repeat in their own relational places that which has remained unresolved in the families of origin.

Staples and Johnson (1993) seemed to concur partially in citing a significantly higher percentage of Blacks divorcing than Whites. For example, between 1973 and 1980 there were 37.2% divorces among Black males while only 22.2% among White males. However, Staples referred to numerous demographic questionnaires where Blacks report that economics is the number one factor in their decision to divorce. Staples explained this is contrasting lower class communities with middle class communities. In lower class communities there are two standards for men: a stable, long





14


marriage and ongoing relationships with women outside of marriage. The male is seen as caught in a self-image concern, needing to appear attractive and virile. A shortage of money is a double stress experienced within the family as a survival need and in the social life of the male as status and image needs.

Staples explained that a shift occurs with Blacks belonging to the middle class. Social activities become prominent with more concern over the social status of the family. If there are extramarital affairs they are not made public. Couples are more likely to work harder at conflict to prevent divorce, for this would threaten to lower social status. However, anxiety around money is prevalent, and husbands are more prone to accuse their wives of over-spending, which may generate additional dissatisfaction.

McAdoo (1988) further reinforced the significance of economics in Black relationships and -argues against significant differences of men as family members across the races. She cited Cazenave's study indicating that middle income Black fathers are more active in the care of their children. Low socioeconomic Black fathers are invested in their children but retain a rigid posture: head of the family, punisher of disobedient children, enforcer of strict rules and





15


regulations, focused on the consequences of behaviors rather than motives. McAdoo referred to two significant studies refuting racial differences in parenting. She cited a 1978 study done by Bartz and Sevine in which 455 parents of different ethnic groups were interviewed and observed. The ethnic differences were "one of degree, not kind." In this study it was also concluded that similar expectations of children were shared by all socioeconomic classes. A study in 1979 conducted by Mackey and Day was tagged by McAdoo as "the most comprehensive cross-cultural observational study on fathering. Father figures were studied among races in the United States, Ireland, Spain, Japan, and Mexico. The study results revealed no significant difference in parental interaction between men and women.

Coner-Edwards (1988) acknowledged the effect of socioeconomic status on Black relationships but emphasized the psychological dimensions of the Black male. He contended that the reason marriages fail is a failure at intimacy, and this failure is based upon internal fears and anxieties. These fears lead to defensive patterns of distance and withdrawal, with the Black male seen as prone to stereotyping, having difficulty with anger, having an





16


inability to deal with the complexity of a partner, having difficulty in caring for his "inner child," and finding it difficult to carry his "adult self" into current relationships. When socioeconomic status increases, there is reason to expect that some stress will decrease, which may allow for more selection of options. When there is job security, parents do seem to have more time and energy to relate and work on their problems. However, this, according to Coner-Edwards, must be framed in light of the intrapsychic processes.

The emotional and interactional processes and the multigenerational transmission process are not well known among African-Americans nor contrasted among socioeconomic classes. These processes may well be dominant among Black males as well as White males and may be significant for all socioeconomic levels.

Theoretical Framework

Trans generational family systems theory provides a rich theoretical lens through which to attempt to understand the role of family of origin influences on current intimate relationship functioning. The role of family of origin influences on intimate relationship competence is given prominence in the works of B oszormenyi -Nagy (1987) and Bowen (1985). Both theorists assume





17


that to understand how an individual interacts in his/her current intimate relationship, one must understand how family members functioned in each partner's family of origin. Nagy, representing somewhat of a middle ground between the psychodynamic traditions of Bowiby and Winnicott and the more systemic propositions of Bowen, contended that when an individual experiences active ownership and involvement by each parent, a sense of "ontic loyalty" occurs, leaving the child indebted to pass on a legacy of nurturance to the next generation. He contended that the child's legacy contains certain "streams of influence" shaped by the child's experience with each parent, and when father takes ownership there are two streams of influence bringing balance to the child. In contrast, Bowen looked not only at the patterns of relating of each parent and child but at the patterns of relating across the entire family group.

According to Bowen, families are subject to numerous stresses and anxieties in the process of living together. Because family members are sensitive to each others' emotional states, they develop patterned ways of handling these tensions and anxieties. Some of these patterns for handling tension are more functional than are others. Bowen (as discussed in Gilbert, 1992) identified five





18


problematic patterns that families may use to handle their emotional anxiety and tensions. These patterns are open conflict, cutoff, dysfunction in a spouse, dysfunction in a child resulting from triangling, or an unstable marital partnership. Bowen believed that families develop preferred ways of handling anxiety over time. Although these patterns resolve anxieties in the family over the short term, the causes of these anxieties, the emotional immaturity of the individual family members, never get attention. Thus, if there is tension between marital partners, a child may receive a disproportionate amount of emotional attention either positive or negative as the parents choose to focus on concerns they have with the child rather than deal with conflict with their partner. These various dysfunctional patterns of handling emotional tension and anxiety often result in individual family members never having the experience of a sense of separateness or independence of feeling and thinking from other family members. When individuals who have experienced such a state of "fusion" in their own families of origin seek to build love relationships on their own, Bowen predicted that they would demonstrate a limited capacity for self-management and would experience a constant struggle over issues of excessive





19


closeness or distance in intimate relating with others. Thus, in transgenerational family systems theory (referred to by Kerr & Bowen, 1988, as Natural Systems Theory for its attempt to be scientifically based and aligned with biological observations) it is assumed that an individual's current style of intimate relating is shaped by his/her experience within his/her own family of origin and, more specifically, by the patterned ways of dealing with emotional tensions enacted within the original family.

A number of researchers have sought to discern the tie between children's functioning and current family relationships. Belsky and his associates (1991) conducted a study revealing the result of a negative relationship between wife and husband on the children. Subjects were 100 families who volunteered to participate in a family development project at Pennsylvania State University. Summations were to be done as the families' first children turned three years of age. Chi-square analyses were used. The study showed that when there was a qualitative decline in the marital relationship, men related more negatively with their children.

Kleiman (1981) attempted to demonstrate that healthy families have better marital/parental coalitions and that the generational





20


boundaries are clearer. "Healthy" was used to contrast with average families identified as "normal." Kleiman's population consisted of families whose children attended a private school adjacent to a major urban city. The sample was composed of Caucasian males in intact families where both natural parents were living together. Fiftythree eleventh and twelfth graders participated. Two-tailed t-tests were used to compare the group scores. Results revealed that in comparison with normal families (a distinction derived by using the "Offer Self -Image Questionaire" and the "Family Structure Questionaire"), healthy families were found to have substantially more effective parental coalitions and generational boundaries. The parents' involvement with each other was intimate and trusting and had a positive effect on the children's development. The authors suggested that while this positive impact on the children implied a better preparedness for marriage for the children, there was a need for further confirmation of this pattern.

Doane (1978) summarized the research of the 1970s on the influence of fathers to determine themes, discriminants, and implications for clinical practice. He suggested that the research evidence led to the following generalizations: (a) the attitude of one





21


parent toward the other in relation to the children was substantial,

(b) the interaction of the parents itself was noteworthy in predicting diagnosis, (c) cross-generational boundary intrusion was observed frequently in disturbed families, and (d) much evidence pointed to a high correlation between parent-child coalitions and a weak or conflicted marital relationship. This meant that the "other parent," be it father or mother, was often aggravating or even counteractive in the parenting process.

Several other researchers have attempted to discern the effect of fathers on family relating. In a study on adolescent adjustment Teyber (1983a) interviewed a sample of 262 late adolescent college students. He found that boys more than girls perceived the fathermother dyad as primary. Girls were more likely to focus on the mother-child relationship. It is interesting, however, that the girls who were able to see their parent's marital relationship as primary were better adjusted. This research reported weak findings concerning the reported effect of fathers on personality development, with fathers perceived as more influential by daughters and mothers more influential by sons. The strongest research conclusion concerned the positive effect on the adolescent





22


personality development of both a strong marital dyad and appropriate boundaries between the marital couple and the children and the extended family.

A similar study, conducted by Teyber (1983b), focused on adolescentt emancipation from the family." Teyber used a sample of 72 eighteen -year-old college freshmen, 36 on academic probation and 36 with a GPA of 2.5 or above. Equal numbers of students differing in ethnicity and SAT scores were contrasted. The study used three experimenters who were trained in interviewing the students about family relational patterns. In the interview the subjects were to draw a map of three generations and to identify subgroups, alliances, and coalitions. Teyber found that if the marriage of the mother and father was not the primary dyad (such as when parent and child bonding was the dominant/primary dyad), the adolescents had notably more difficulty in leaving the family. Students from families in which the marital dyad was primary were rated as more likely to succeed academically and were more internal on the Rotter I-E scale. This study reinforces the notion that primary family alliances may significantly determine later life adjustments.





23


Mueller and Pope (1977) examined the relationship between women's marital relationship stability and their family generational dynamics. Subjects were drawn from a 1970 national sample of adult females, followed up in 1977, and balanced racially. The conclusion of their correlation study was that the marital instability of a woman's parents leads to a "high risk" mate selection and that this results in higher divorce and separation rates for the offspring. While this study is helpful in showing strong evidence of a relationship between family of origin and current relationship stability, it remained weak in identifying more specific family interaction variables.

Building on the study of Mueller and Pope, Fine and Hovestadt (1984) designed a study focused on the transmission of relational health rather than pathology. They sought to determine whether there were strong associations among perceived marital satisfaction, rational thinking ability, and perceptions of health in the family of origin. The study utilized the Family of Origin Scale, the Rational Behavior Inventory, and the Semantic Differential Scale. Subjects were 128 undergraduate students. The analyses of variance interpretations revealed that there was substantial evidence to





24


believe that high levels of rationality and positive perceptions of marriage were transmitted from the family of origin.

These multi generational speculations had first been studied by Murray Bowen. In the 1950s grants were being awarded to research family interactions, communication, and multigenerational patterns, which were thought to contribute to mental illness. Bowen studied schizophrenic patients at the National Institute of Mental Health from 1954-1959 (Bowen, 1985). During that time span entire families lived in the institute with the patient. Daily, nonreactive observation began to provide consensus among the reports regarding the relationship patterns in these families. This quickly was generalized to observations and findings among the lesser ill and normal people. It was, then, in the early 1960s that Bowen concentrated his study on multiple generations by collecting case notes on at least three generations. His most detailed case involved a case study dating back 300 years. The first theory paper was published in 1966 that identified the six interlocking concepts that he concluded were essential to understanding individual behavior and family functioning. One such concept was that of emotional fusion and the subsequent projection process. Bowen believed that in the throes of





25


intense anxiety, triangles and a family projection process emerge, thus creating dysfunctional patterns that interfere with successful interpersonal interaction and healthy individuation.

Some subsequent studies of schizophrenia conducted by other researchers supported Bowen's ideas. Cited by Kety and Rosenthal (1968) was the classic study of children of schizophrenic mothers. The study involved children who were raised by biological parents contrasted with children raised by adoptive parents to reveal evidence that the illness was innate and organic. However, Wynne and Singer reexamined the same parents using the Rorschach to determine communication deviance. Parents with no evidence of schizhophrenia were included in the study to determine if the examiners could determine to which parental set the schizophrenic "Ichild" belonged. The report claimed a 100% accuracy in identification, and the adoptive parents' deviant communication was greater than the biological parents' deviant communication. Similarly, Lidz, Fleck, and Cornelison (1965) observed parent to child interactions with the schizophrenic offspring. These parents were observed as unresponsive to both the child's nurturance needs and personality development needs. The child was related to as if to





26


extend or complete the life of at least one parent.

These studies represent the very limited amount of work that has been done, and only within the last 18 years, to determine what, if any, changes occur as a family moves through the generations and why. It remains difficult to find sufficient data to determine if change and its causes are identifiable and predictable. Lewis (1989) cites three theoretical positions about the process of family change. The first proposes that stability outweighs change, citing Raush in indicating that patterns of con flict-re solution do not change much in a family over time. The second position stems from the works of Reiss and Anthony, indicating that if one knows the nature of the structure, for example, over rigidity or enmeshment, then one can predict what may happen during situational and developmental stress. It banks on the type of structural pattern an individual takes into his/her relationships for communication and problem solving. The third position is that a family is often bombarded by unpredictable crises, causing the ineffectiveness of the usual family homeostatic patterns. It is in these gaps that creative changes may occur. More research is needed to validate or dispute any of these theories further. The reality of research, according to Lewis, is that a





27


very limited amount of study has been focused on individual development, as in Vaillant's work; less still has been done on how early family development affects later life relationships.

In this vein Benson, Larson, Wilson, and Demo (1993) attempted to base research on Bowen's concepts to show that elements of a close relationship are transmitted to the next generation. Subjects were 433 males and 544 females between 17 and 21 who were never married. Regression analyses were used to analyze the scores from the Personal Authority in the Family System Questionaire, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and a relationship communication scale constructed by the researchers. There was strong evidence to support that fusion in the family of origin manifested as anxiety as a trait in the individual. This anxiety in the individual led to poor communication and, then, dysfunctional communication in romantic attempts.

In summary, although there have been a number of attempts to relate children's and young unmarried adults' functioning to family of origin interactive processes, there has been limited attention given to how family of origin interactive processes might affect men's relational competence.





28


Need for the Study

Although there is much public attention now being turned to the state of men's difficulties and deficiencies in intimate relating, our present state of knowledge as to what conditions lead to men's relational difficulties is relatively sparse. We know very little as to whether there are predictable differences in how men who vary in their level of intimate relationship satisfaction describe their early socialization or current relational functioning. We know even less about whether these current ways of relating are more strongly associated with differing styles of interaction/functioning in their families of origin as a whole. Given that family systems theory posits that how one's family of origin functioned is critical to the development of one's own ways of relating in current relationships, this theoretical perspective seems extremely relevant to understanding the experience of men who report relationship difficulties. Not only would greater information as to the role of family of origin influences on current relationship functioning preferences be useful in understanding how men develop relationship difficulties, it would also be quite useful in designing





29


more effective clinical interventions for assisting them in resolving such difficulties.

Purposes of the Stu~dy

The purpose of this study is to utilize a trans generational family systems theory (natural systems theory) as a framework for exploring and attempting to understand the relational functioning of midlife men. According to transgenerational family systems theory, an individual's current ways of functioning intimately with a partner (or a son or daughter) are directly related to his/her interactional experiences in his/her family of origin. Thus, rather than looking only at specific ways of relating experience exclusively between two family members (such as a father and son, or mother and son), the patterns of relating in which three or more people participate are the organizing focus. As a result, how men report their mother and father relating to each other, as well as how they report relating to their mother or father in the context of their relationship with the other parent, is assumed to influence both their current style of interacting with an intimate partner and their relative satisfaction with that relationship.





30


Given the relative lack of knowledge about how early relational experiences may affect men's current relational functioning and the potential of family systems theory to serve as a vehicle for exploring this question, the purposes of this study are threefold. First, the author proposes to compare the perceptions of family of origin functioning and current relationship functioning of two groups of midlife men: (a) men who report low levels of satisfaction with their intimate relationships and (b) men who report high levels of satisfaction with their intimate relationships. Second, the association between current relational functioning and family of origin functioning will be examined. Third, the author will investigate the association between current relational satisfaction, family of origin functioning, and father-son relational functioning. The two groups of men were further delineated into subgroups of Black and White men and higher and lower socioeconomic level.

Research Ouestions

The following research questions were posed in this study:

1. After controlling for race and socioeconomic status, do midlife men differing in their level of satisfaction with their current intimate relationship report differing patterns of family of origin





3 1


functioning? Is there an association between these levels of satisfaction and levels of family of origin functioning?

2. After controlling for race and socioeconomic status do midlife men differing in their level of satisfaction with their current intimate relationship report differing patterns of current relationship functioning? Is there an association between these levels of satisfaction and levels of current relationship functioning?

3. Is there an association between the level of current relationship satisfaction and the level of couple functional interaction?

4. Is there a significant relationship between the functional levels of couple interaction and levels of couple relational processes, levels of father-son family of origin processes, and levels of intergenerational fusion and personal authority?

Definition of Terms

The following terms are used throughout this study.

Inimacs.y is defined by Nagy (1987) drawing from object relations understanding to talk about how individuals connect with the persons and things in the world. There is attachment (e.g., dependence on mother early in life), separation (moving from an





32


object toward other parts [objects] of one's world), and the experiencing of anxiety and grief over the separation which leads to a sense of valuing the object. Inequities, broken loyalties, and unresolved grief account for distress and dysfunction. Intimacy within Nagy's framework is a focus on the "context" maintaining function or dysfunction.

The Personal Authority in the Family System Questionaire manual (Bray, Williamson, and Malone, 1984) further defines intimacy as "voluntary closeness with distinct boundaries to the self (with dimensions off) ... trust, love-fondness, self-disclosure, and commitment" (p. 169).

Individuation is Nagy's (1973) term for the successfully functioning self in a context in which the self is both experienced as separate and connected. He draws from existential thought to depict this as the human organism having the ability to know and promote the self as a separate entity, while simultaneously staying in relationship. This "staying in relationship" is, first of all, a given as human beings are "ontologically" connected and dependent on others in that manner. The self is solidified by the sustaining of one's





33


separateness while showing the utmost respect for the "other" and an openness to further understanding the unknownness in the other.

Differentiation is Murray Bowen's (Kerr & Bowen, 1988) term for individuation, and it brings a "process" definition. The interaction goal would be to grow toward a process of self clarity which rests on a well thought out and determined direction for one's life. Looking at one's history (multigenerational as well) to come to grips with the rules, postures and movements that have perpetuated undifferentiation is a part of the process toward the solid self and away from the pseudo self.

Fusion is low self differentiation depicted as a life driven by emotional reactivity resulting from lack of emotional separation from the family of origin (Kerr and Bowen, 1988). This over emotional attachment finds expression throughout one's life via projections and triangles thereby perpetuating an undifferentiated self and setting the patterns and postures for low self differentiation of one's children. This is made possible by the human tendency to marry at the same or lower level of self differentiation.

Triangulation is defined as a human dyad so unstable that when stress increases and intensity develops a third person is





34


brought into it (Gilbert, 1992). Dysfunctional processes have to do with repetitions of patterns and parameters of the functioning of the self and others over time. The process behind the anxiety was seen by Bowen to fall into one or more of five relationship patterns: conflict, distance, emotional cutoff, dysfunction in one spouse, and dysfunction in a child. Patterns form to solve relationship anxiety while emotional immaturity remains unchanged. When tension relief is so often via a dysfunctional pattern it eventually interferes with phases of normal individual and family development. Valences are ascribed and/or assumed allowing emotional, unfinished baggage to go with the individual beyond the family of origin into the adult intimacy attempts but doomed by the cloud of the valence (for example, always the villain or the victim, the bastard or the bitch, the hero or the failure, the close, intimate one or the distant one unable to be vulnerable, expressive and connected) (Brown, 1991). In this theory men are often observed to be the distancers except when distancing fails and excessive anxiety develops. In this state of distress men often temporarily pursue and are perhaps prone to harshness and even violence. Spouses and children would then receive projected emotional baggage rather than the sharedness of





35


an individual within a mutually respectful context which can be called intimacy.

Partner relationship satisfaction is one's quick, attitudinal impression of the relationship (Roach, Frazier, & Bowden, 1981). It captures a spontaneous opinion rather than studious, in-depth investigation.

Intimidation and self authority are opposite poles of the same construct defined by Bray, Williamson, and Malone (1984) as the ability to sustain a clear level of individuation while still relating intimately with a parent. Intimidation would assume fixation to the past and a continuation of the parental hierarchy boundary. This would find the adult child and parent unable to relate as adult, equal persons. Self authority implies having clear self opinions, values, and control of one's own destiny while staying connected to one's significant emotional systems, including current family and family of origin.

Cohesion is the degree of "emotional bonding, supportiveness, family boundaries, shared time and friends, and shared activities" (Olson, Portner, & Bell, 1982).





36


Adaptability is a measurement of "leadership, discipline, child control, roles, and rules" (Olson, Portner, & Bell, 1982).

Racial difference refers to African -Americans, selected because they represent the largest minority group in the United States. The group makes up over 12% of the population and has a long history of sociological comparison studies with Caucasian -Americans (Rothman, 1993).

Socioeconomic status, in this study, refers to individuals with an annual household income of above $35,000 and individuals with an annual household income of below $35,000. This determination is based upon $35,000 being the average income in the chosen population.

Organization of the Study

The remainder of the study consists of four chapters. Chapter 2 is a review of the related literature presented in five sections to reveal the evolution of understanding the effect of the relational processes of multiple generations. Chapter 3 contains a discussion of methodology and includes research design, delineation of variables, population, sampling procedures, instrumentation, data collection procedures, hypotheses, data analytic procedures, and limitations.





37



Chapter 4 organizes the results of the study. Chapter 5 presents a discussion of the results, limitations, and indications of any need for further study.












CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

This discussion of literature is presented in five sections: (a) the psychoanalytic view of family influence, (b) the male's family role in psychoanalytic thinking, (c) the tasks of parents in psychoanalytic thinking, (d) transgenerational dysfunction: a bridge to multigenerational thinking, and (e) multigenerational patterns.

The Psychoanalytic View of Family Influence

The psychoanalytic notion of family stability and influence emphasizes bonding between mother and child. The stress is upon necessary nurturance by mother within an obligatory relationship. Father's role is seen as peripheral emotionally, only important for financial support, protection, and executive enforcement of family rules. Yet, when one examines the historical psychological literature, there exists a number of references to the vital importance of the male, especially in the identity development of a boy.

Primary sourcework is often credited to Margaret Mahler and the description of the process of rapprochement (Lax, Back & Burland, eds., 1980). Rapprochement refers to the process of


38





39


separation and individuation that occurs following the necessary bonding in infancy. The implication is that we have roots with groundedness, attachment, and bonding out of which we venture into newer and newer forms of our own civilization process. Mother is deemed necessary as the stable nurturer who, after symbiosis, continues on as a powerful resource to the child. Mother contains and sustains the child during regressive episodes and allows freedom to do appropriate developmental tasks and actively affect the world. Mahler believed that the child needed sufficient confidence in a loving mother to be able to renounce her omnipotence (Mahler, 1979). This, then, created an anxious environment finding the child fearing loss of "mother object" love both when receiving approval or disapproval and pressures to become aware of and control body functions.

Kernberg, when describing the first phase of life, depicted the first relationship as a fusion of self and mother object (Lax, Back & Burland, eds., 1980). As the child naturally begins to differentiate there is an inner turmoil. On the one hand the child defensively refuses to see and experience self or mother as separate. On the other hand the child feels inner tugs of aggression and exploration in





40


which he/she wishes to deny his/her intense connectedness with mother. It is here that the child can first declare elements of the world or the self as seeming to be polarized (good/bad). Mahler (1979) refers to pathology which can emerge if mother does not present herself as a constant object. If mother clings excessively the child may fixate or regress thus creating the foundations for psychotic identifications. If mother is not appropriately comfortable with holding and letting go; the child may introject such, and while functioning may be adequate, the child may enter adulthood with excessive longing for holding and being held. If extreme or bizarre responses are given the child when holding or separation is desired, the child may experience splitting, (that is, a compartmentalizing of parts of the self that do not coincide with reality expectations which results in perceptions of self and others which are distorted and undependable). Mahler believed this laid the foundation for the borderline personality. Crisis, then, for the junior toddler, is in realizing that his/her love objects are separate from himself/herself. According to Mahler, if there is an adequate resolution of this crisis, object constancy occurs regarding self and others. If not, then object





41


relations theorists believe the precursors for neuroses and character disorders are established.

Abelin, in an attempt to clarify and expand on Mahler's thinking (Lax, Back & Burland, eds., 1980), utilized the phenomenon of "triangulation." This actively brought in a reference to father in identity development and social stability. Mahler referred to father as an "uncontaminated mother substitute." Mother, in the symbiotic dance, becomes contaminated by the intensities of longing and frustration. Mahler saw father coming into the dynamic to attend to the contamination and resolve the ambivalence. When differentiation is occurring between mother and child the father enters the child's world as if from "outer space." Abelin described that father enters ". as something gloriously new and exciting, at just the time when the toddler is experiencing a feverish quest for expansion a 'knight in shining armor"' (p. 152). But more than just a dazzling addition, Abelin described the triangulation process as the child's emerging ability to internalize relational dynamics. Therefore, taking into the self a concept of father and mother relating becomes an active part of the child's civilization process. The child needs, developmentally, to know that the intense





42


desirability he/she wishes to retain for himself/herself is of his/her own origination. Abelin stressed that this awareness is only possible as the child witnesses the parents together and imitates what is witnessed. The child sees his/her one desired object desiring his/her other object. This provides an ultimate reality stress out of which the child can choose to construct a "rival wish." In this process the frames of movement are frozen and the child imagines being like the rival. At first this is primal, the child only seeing father holding mother and vice versa, but 2-3 years later the child is able to image spatially. At that time the child can either identify with or temporarily attach to the other object as experimentation with separation is occurring with the primary object. As such, Abelin noted, father must be cathected (that is, the child must have already invested psychic energy into father as a constant object). Mahler persisted in emphasizing that mother will still be turned to for comfort and father will be taken in more as exuberance (Mahler, 1979); however, she noted that as the boy early on identifies with father he forms his gender identity. The more there is stable attachment to father, the better able the boy is to deal with his anxiety over disidentifying with his mother. Mahler saw the





43


precariousness in this as she was aware of fathers often being less accessible than mothers.

Biller (1970) saw the absence of father during the first two years of life to be excessively more detrimental to boys than to girls. He believed it left boys with a "feminine core gender identity" and would find manifestation later on in life in the form of masculine overcompensation or opposite stereotypes of less aggression, less competition, and more dependence. The emphasis here is that only boys, not girls, "disidentify" with mother. The boy's core self image comes from a full identification with father. According to this theory the foundation would be laid for longing for a different kind of object that would no longer be just a mirroring of self (i.e., the quest for companionship with the opposite sex). In the Oedipal stage girls form attachments with their fathers, but boys are replicating what has already occurred earlier at a more primitive level. Abelin (Abelin in Lax, Back and Burland, 1980) explains: ". only in man is the father internalized into psychic structure. To be more precise, it is the truth of the father-mother relationship that is internalized, the truth about one's origin, the forbidden fruit of knowledge. In sexual triangulation, the self is engendered by father and mother and with





44


it the explosion of symbolic thought. This indeed is an important step toward the psychological birth of the human infant" (p. 166).

Masterson (Masterson, 1985), in his descriptions about formations of the borderline personality, brings us, again, to an emphasis on the importance of a stable, consistent, appropriate early environment. The infant first takes in the nurturer libidinally with spatial imaging coming later. At such a primitive level the child is extraordinarily vulnerable to availability and withdrawal. He described: ". if her (mother's) confidence in herself as a mother is shaky, then the individuating child has to do without a reliable frame of reference for checking back, perceptually and emotionally, to the symbiotic partner the result will then be a disturbance in the primitive 'self feeling"' (p. 167).

Bowiby's (1973) writing about loss dynamics in separation is helpful in bringing together some of the theorists into a focus about early life adequacies and inadequacies. It was in hospitals and similar settings that Bowlby researched the dynamics of the absent mother. The simple absence itself would produce observable feeling states in the child, especially sadness, anxiety, and anger. If absence was abrupt or occurred during high stress, the child's response to





45


separating from the mother would manifest itself in intense protest followed by despair leading to detachment. Strange people and environments attempting to help usually exacerbated the symptoms. Bowiby referred to Melanie Klein's thinking that the child from birth on experiences the world as "persecutory." The child is attempting to progress in an attempt to lessen the sense of helplessness against, first, the destruction from without and, then, the fear of destruction within. Spitz (Bowlby, 1973) believed that in the early months separation as loss was a "narcissistic trauma" and as severe for the child as losing an actual physical part of the body. Sullivan (Bowlby 1973) believed that severe anxiety was learned. During daily living the nurturer is in an anxious state. If, in this anxious state, the nurturer erratically approves and disapproves, the results could be an induction of neurotic anxiety making the adjustment processes of the child distorted and excessive. Bowlby saw the child as vulnerable and easily lonely. He believed the child had an inherent need for contact with others. He found evidence of such in the animal world where animals would warm and attach to varieties of, but "particular" others of their species. Likewise, Bowiby observed children finding comfort and identity security in attachment with





46


more than one familiar, loved individual. This warmth and consistency would provide an environment for secure attachment, experimental separation, and mourning that would set the stage for patterns of attachment versus separation, closeness versus distance, and gains versus losses throughout the rest of life.

Writers in American society's most popular magazines, while offering much advice and solutions, seem to expose us as a people who still wish to embrace this concept of early childhood in the family. Even with the expanding of day care and two-career parenting, articles keep multiplying emphasizing the developmental need for constancy and consistency of the primary nurturer and the gradual but consistent introduction of additional persons who will become familiar, loved figures. These are clearly substitutes for mother, but there is reason to believe from the literature that father is primary and not just a substitute.

The Male's Family Role in Psychoanalytic Thinking

In his book Finding our Fathers: The Unfinished Business of Manhood Osherson (1986) referred to a lack of readily available historical writings about fathers as a major neglected aspect of our culture. He cited that when persons have set out to explore families





47


of famous people they have discovered many signs of the effect of fathers on the futures of their children, both as a close, positive influence and in terms of distance or alienation. The premise of Osherson and writers like him is that we are facing a current societal dilemma which is hard to reconcile Men are still stereotyped as detached, non-feeling breadwinners, while the publicized desire in society is to have two career marriages with both parents as caretakers of the children and the home. Contemporary wives desire husbands to be emotionally aware and responsive beyond courtship. According to Osherson, the tendency in our society is for a man to return to being aloof and isolated after marriage and depend upon his wife to care for the children and interpret for him what family is.

James Carroll stated that "the curse of fatherhood is distance, and good fathers spend their lives trying to overcome it" (Osherson, 1986, p. 30). In current writings about the male struggle, focus is placed again on the boy's early childhood (Osherson, 1986). According to psychoanalytic theorists early in life there is full union with mother as a physical phenomenon that usually has the mother experiencing bonding with the newborn as a refraining and continuation of prenatal attachment. Boys are seen as having





48


identity development issues different from girls. They need stability with mother, yet there is the gradual need to "separate and renounce mother" as a part of gender identity development. Their successful growth is assumed to be dependent upon the extent to which attachment is made to father rather than just separation from mother. Psychoanalytic theorists view the anxiety around this time as much more than simple adjustment anxiety; it is a loss without guaranteed gain experience. The primitive question for the boy is "Can I exist without mother or as different from her?" If father is absent or detached the boy may seek resolution to male formation by simple distancing from and aloofness with mother and, later in his life, other women. He may have the success of attaching to father, and the advantage of this depends largely upon the comfortableness of father to represent a wide variety of thoughts and feelings to his son. If father is a part of the family yet rigid or inaccessible, the son may be prone to resolve gender formation by embracing machoism which he may later employ to devalue all that is feminine. This will not only deprive him from a huge repertoire of feelings and emotional expressions, but will have him burdened with image and performance. In this bind Osherson and other psychoanalytic





49


thinkers believe the man will be inclined to retain a hostile yet dependent posture with women.

If the young boy is not able to attach to father or a male substitute, he is subject to "infantilism and parentification" (Osherson, 1986), being seen in the family as the needy child or set up to perform as mother's "little man." Osherson went on to describe that life is filled with experiences that leave men feeling needy and helpless. If a man has a boyhood background that placed him antithetical to such a philosophy or held responsible for solving the stress of such for his parent, he will re-experience feeling like a needy child, an over-burdened/over-responsible provider/protector, or both. This is further confounded by the sustained illusion that women can and should take care of men. This correlates with Mahler's observation that infants and young children do have an extraordinary capacity to get libidinal supplies from many available sources (Mahler, 1979). The ability of a young boy to make such coping adjustments rather than obtain the needed nurturance from and attachment to father makes him a survivor, but not a stable, flexible, responding individual.





50


Ivan Borzormenyi-Nagy (Van Heusden and Eerenbeemt. 1987) conceptualized family as based on ontic loyalty. By virtue of "being" and being on the same contained planet all humans are "being" or ontologically connected. Philosophies rest on this premise with humans held accountable in their very existence for responding caringly and promoting a congenial future. Nagy believed that, like joining humanity, when we are born we are born into an existing legacy. This legacy is formed from two streams of influence the mother's side of the family and the father's side of the family. Without balance there is a lack of full definition of who we actually are. Without balance we miss out on 50% of the resources for life that can come to us by virtue of our lineage. Via their connectedness with their children, mothers automatically open up their lineage, with all its assets and biases, to their children. When a father embraces fatherhood, taking upon himself the responsibilities and consequences of being an involved parent, his child becomes appropriately indebted to not only a relational person, but to many generations of knowledge and influence to blend alongside that of mother's.





5 1


Nagy saw the child's loyalty ties as undeniable and irreversible. It was not just a feeling, but, rather, "grounded in an origin of existential, asymmetrical ties between parent and child" (Van Heusden and Eerenbeemt, 1987, p. 17). This sense of loyalty becomes a primary force in the formation of the individual. Nagy believed that the individual must "render an account of the existence of loyalty bonds" and integrate this rendering into the individual's own unique life design. If there is a backdrop of excessive off balancedness between mother and father in home responsibilities and if a schism emerges between mother and father, Nagy believed the child will take on an endeavor to rejoin the parents, will never give up, and, as such fails, the child will accumulate multiple symptoms both as ploys and as results. In its opposite form, if mother and father practice mutual respect and a balance of "merits" and "obligations," the impact and the model will promote the child toward adult mutual peer relations in friendships and in marriage.

Male relationships have gotten the attention of psychoanalytic feminist writers in the promotion of equality and the balancing of life tasks. In The Reproduction of Mothering. Nancy Chodorow (1978) reminded us that when the father is present and active the





52


child knows father from the beginning and takes father in as significant. As with mother, father will be experienced in the child's frustrations as having interests of his own, the contrast only able to impact if father is consistently present. The child, according to Chodorow, benefits in several ways. First, the child develops more ability to embrace ambivalence and flexibility rather than rigidity and polarity. Second, the child enjoys the advantage of having a reality base in the world which fathers represent. Third, the child enjoys having another attachment figure which lessens anxiety when mother is absent and, then, when father is absent. Finally, when father is seen as intervening into the mother/child relationship, it orients the child to the fuller nature of culture and society.

Chodorow believed that both genders, if given opportunity and skill enabling, have a desire to "recreate mothering" (Chodorow, 1978). The primary foundation for parenting is having been parented oneself. Chodorow argued that, if this is true, males have been enculturated to exclude parenting tasks. She speculated that this split was reinforced by a capitalistic work world especially reinforced throughout the industrial growth years. She argued that in our current world which is focusing more on communications,





53


information, and relational activity, it is becoming cumbersome to have such exclusive roles for men. She also argued that in crosscultural studies the more the fathers are absent and uninvolved; the more conflict in the family, the greater the confusion and fear about gender identity and intimacy with women, and the greater an indication of poorly developed relational and managerial skills for the workplace (Chodorow, 1978).

The premise put forth by Osherson (1986) in his book Finding our Fathers: The Unfinished Business of Manhood, is that we have ingrained, old images of fathers as stoic men of silence serving mostly as breadwinners. This persists even now when the desired life pattern has changed to one of the two-career marriage, close involvement with the children and family ventures, and greater emotional availability to the spouse. Osherson proposed that women have been, and still are, guided into parenting both physiologically and sociologically, while men enter this modern era with the task expectation of involvement but with no guidelines. This leaves a man needing to become bonded with the new baby while he is also affected by less time with his wife, having to leave the home scene to go to work, pressured more than ever to build work stability to





54


support this new family, and more apt than ever in his life to feel lonely and insecure. The father, despite these pressures, must spend time alone with the new baby to become engrossed in a manner which builds fascination and bonding. He will, at the same time, be confronted by his own neediness and the remnants of his own parented experience. Osherson stated that the father's goal is to be tan empathic figure who attends to the emotional needs of the situation, who can provide by taking care of the human needs of others, not just through his paycheck" (p. 187). He contended that for most men this will be a painful process as it both confronts repressed emotions and goes contrary to male programming. Osherson suggested that much healing and growth can occur as the father persists in coming home daily to "screaming kids and cursing wife" to "take a deep breath," pick up the child, and bring a new dimension of soothing into the picture. In this act all the woundedness of the father's images of his father emerge but get attended to. As such it is acknowledged that men, when they have been excluded from active fathering, have been deprived of the positive growth that may only be able to occur in the attachment dynamics and the experiential relationship with his child.





55


Despite the positive picture some authors paint of fathering and the pressure to be an active father, there is indication that this attempt may be hampered by some wives/mothers as it is attempted. Osherson also noted that the wife may have repressed needs for a father wherein she is holding out for the traditional notions of security. This may actually promote estrangement in the husband and his signs of nurture may be either diminished or tagged as feminine and shameful (Osherson, 1986). If the new father is attempting tasks which are new to his nature, there is frequently a pressure from his wife to do the tasks like she does them and/or to be her delegate under her control (Meth & Pasick, 1990).

Feldman (Meth & Pasick, 1990) spoke of disappointed fathering attempts as intrapsychic and interpersonal barriers inadvertently promoted by wife/mother. The most threatening is ambivalence by the mother in sharing the childcare and nurturance with the father. This unconsciously reminds the father of the push away by his own mother and may surface hostility at a time when sensitivity is so important to his wife. This confounds his already developed fear of failure, and if he perceives his father of origin as detached he may very well choose such as his ego defense. The father, therefore,





56


enters this scene with uncertainty, and likely rigidity, at a time when flexibility is most needed. When ambivalent wife/mother shows criticism and defense instead of invitation and generosity, the stage is often set for an inadequate father of origin pattern to be replayed.

Despite this picture, Osherson (1986) was still optimistic. He identified "real life competencies" as empathy skills which develop out of struggling with one's own vulnerability and deprivation. The child will inevitably become the trigger, but growth and competence can occur if the father finds appropriate ways to vent feelings, release resentments, and attend to his own needs. It will be out of this facing of pain and self care that he can not only nurture his child but also attend intimately to his wife. The man's task, then, is to see the wife's biological advantage as contributing to his feeling of distance, but not having to result in alienation. Osherson stressed, then, that if the man, in the facing of his struggle, cares for himself, holds and bonds with his infant (which implies that he can experience setting the child's centrality over his own), and cares for his wife who has become a mother, then he stands a good chance of experiencing fatherhood as pride and a phenomenon of intentionality which can become a part of his lineage.





57


In their book, Men in Therapy. Meth and Pasick (1990) depicted the men who seek therapeutic help as desirous of an active, nurturing involvement, but persistently plagued by anxiety and insecurity. In reference to the developmental literature, it was argued that boys experience attachment and separation in many more "unpredictable, discontinuous shifts" than girls. Boys, in order to achieve gender stability, struggle over against mother.


Connectedness with mother is


ambivalent while detachment is


frightening. When there is no ready attachment available to father the resultant anxiety continues forth into adulthood, leaving men in a state of flux between feeling close and distant with females. If the male model was not accessible, then the man may also have assimilated a sense of masculinity as simply different from the kinds of things he sees women to be about. Levinson (1978) believed that most men defined masculinity as "power, control, toughness, ambition." O'Neal (Meth & Pesick, 1990) described most men as subject to role strains, such as emotionally restricted, homophobic, locked into competition, control and power by society, restricted sexually/sensually, obsessed with success and fear of failure, and threatened by health problems which are either stress induced or





58


exacerbated by stress patterns. Pleck (Meth and Pasick, 1990) added to this in his reference to "male sex role identity" (MSRI) and "sex role strain" (SRS). The first is what men believe society requires them to think and do. The latter is the difficulty when there is discrepancy with what a man more spontaneously wishes to do in a situation. An example of this is when a man is challenged to manifest cooperation, empathy and trust but is still heavily constricted by outdated, yet powerful, traits, such as rigid rules, excessive competition, and a requirement to keep score. This takes the form of an old pattern in the industrial age workplace of "win at all cost" and places it in an arena in which it will lose and alienate rather then elicit praise and respect. This old pattern was promoted and reinforced by the mother as the sole nurturing parent. In such an arrangement Pleck believed the boy must resist mother in order to develop, yet if without a father he would still need her excessively. He then would emerge prone to repeatedly prove his masculinity by renouncing the support of a woman and her nurturant values to only be obsessed with winning the support of another. Pleck argued that men are expected to either enter a cycle of over- attac hment/conflict within the marriage or in a pattern of





59


disloyalty via distancing and affairs. When one's father is inaccessible the boy does not simply experience a sacrifice of healthy nurturance from his mother, but he embarks into a life of giving up nurturing altogether.

Even in the psychoanalytic way of thinking, mothers alone cannot break this cycle in the parenting of their sons. Pleck's notion of these sons was that they will emerge to be the kinds of men and fathers their fathers taught them to be because it is the father who defines for the son what masculinity is. The son will respect this teaching whether it came in an active or passive form and whether it is conducive to contemporary needs in family relationships or seen as dysfunctional. He will have simply become who he is, left with a destiny to play out family like father or to do the hard work of facing and dealing with his role strains. Pleck (Meth and Pasick, 1990) described the young son needing independence. When his father is unavailable for his wife as well as for his son, his mother's spousal needs gone unmet will have her resisting his independence. He turns anew toward father for internal resolvement. When he sees father as detached and unavailable for both himself and mother/wife he concludes that he is right in interpreting mother's nurturance as





60


something to be renounced. But left with no nurturance the boy has to repeatedly renege on his pronouncement of separation. This will leave him ambivalent later in life in accepting the intimacy and support of one woman and dubious about his ability to be an active, successful father. This connects with Mahler's (1979b) view on father's part in symbiosis. If there is a high degree of attachment between father and infant as well as mother and infant ". .when the infant enters the stage of separation -individuation, each parent provides a secure base from which the infant can explore his world and to which the infant can return when he needs a temporary regression" (p. 155). Men, in psychoanalytic thought, then, along with their children's mother, must be empathically attuned to their children's needs for dependence and autonomy in the early years and throughout the several stages of identity development into adulthood.

The Tasks of Parenting in Analytic Thinking

There are certain fundamental rights that our society agrees are inherent for children. This is reflected in any urban community's social work system. Child protection teams attempt to guarantee that a child is provided food, clothing, shelter, and safety. Added to this





61


is an attempt to prevent neglect that, in addition to these basic provisions, insures that a child is not left unattended by adult custodians. When it comes to emotional abuse and neglect the definitions become more difficult and the proof even harder. The communities continue to offer parenting skills classes which teach that parenting is an involved, proactive endeavor requiring skills, a level of maturity, a practical theory of some sort, and ways of both assessing progress and accounting to partner, extended family, and society. The following section summarizes Nagy's contextual theory which is grounded in object relations theory (and the similar analytic theorizing of Bettelheim) to approach the task of defining what children need and deserve.

Ivan B oszormenyi -Nagy (Nagy and Spark, 1973) in Invisible Loyalties described the need for a child to have a "life space" of his/her own. Within this space the child is able to explore and thrive without undue contamination from the parents. The parents would, ideally, be mature enough and intentional enough at the time of conception to have a plan for providing a nurturing climate and promoting a next generation. This means that the child deserves a deliberateness on the part of parents to see that attachment and





62


guidance occur. Such deliberateness would be based on the need, age, and situational appropriateness of the child and not the parents' projections. Nagy noted, however, that when individuals become parents themselves they carry into that arena a residue of their past with its elements of injustice, abandonment, and exploitation. If the parents own unfinished business with their generational development is not faced and fully owned by them, they are likely to end up treating their child in a way that produces the same or worse results. When adults have not adequately worked through their own emotional separation with their parents they tend to ascribe inappropriate roles to their children. They may parentify a child in which the child who needs their approval and care may, instead, be promoted to take care of a parent so that a role reversal occurs. The child would receive only secondary gains. Similarly, a child may become subject to a parental projection process wherein scapegoating or infantilizing occurs. This often finds the child in a double bind, bound to the emotional field with the parents but unable to receive the approval and love necessary for progressing through life's developmental stages. Equally destructive is Nagy's description of a context of split loyalties. It is in this arena that an emotional and





63


sometimes physical division exists between father and mother. The child by nature will attempt "rejunctive action.'" According to Nagy, unless the parents can take initiative to demolish this splitness, the child will develop multiple symptoms to attempt to solve the splitness. Nagy believed that the realities of these responsibilities and effects should weigh heavily upon the parents, hopefully before birth as a child is prepared for. Family ethics, then, become a process of fairness in which a balance of give and take is continually weighed and the parental projection process bracketed and remedied.

Popular among analytic circles is Bruno Bettelheim's A oo Enough Parent A Book on Child Rearing (Bettelheim, 1987). Bettelheim drew his title and some of his theoretical base from Winnicott's "good enough mother" which is meant to mean that the child is being raised by parents who feel secure in their parenthood. It draws from Winnicott's "she (mother) reflects in her face the infant's feelings" (Winnicott, 1965). Bettelheim was not promoting perfection, but a family in which the young adult can look back and say he/she was raised well. It does imply that family intimacies were maintained, that intimacies with friends and extended family





64


fostered, and life and developmental hardships were approached in a way that the child was left feeling more secure than uncertain. Betteiheimn did not embrace rules, but, instead, held out for a parent/child process of living and relating together. He did indicate that the parent and child can become "neurotically bound" to predictable reactions to each other to such an extent that it dooms all efforts at appropriate warmth and intimacy. The premise is that the parents hopefully are well adjusted enough to recognize that it is the sensitive child who struggles for mastery over each element of each new stage of development, and it is the parents' responsibility to see that he/she avoids excessive "woundedness," for that woundedness sets the stage for all that comes later. This implies later child developmental stage difficulties, but it also implies a limitedness relationally in the adult world.

Bettelheimn set forth thirteen elements of "good enough" parenting which directly speak to the question about needs and rights of children. These elements are guideposts in the psychoanalytic view of the parent-child relational process:

(1) "Being" is emphasized instead of doing or performing. A parent is not to expect to perform better as a parent, but to "be" a





65


good parent. One way to insure this is to remember the same principle for the child, that is, to value at all times the child's "being" and to promote that children "live well and enjoy their lives." What usually gets in the way of this is when parents over-identify with their children. Betteiheim insisted that a child must be "free of parents in their struggle."

(2) The parent needs to be a "real person," as opposed to being aloof or mechanical with the child. A child needs to access a full person who is emotionally available and not just rational. The child's developing/ uncertain identity depends greatly upon the parent's ability to contain and manage anxiety. Bettelheimn referred to Harry Stack Sullivan's finding that the anxiety of a parent induces anxiety in the child and can be kept going, including accompanying ill behavior, by the parent's anxiety state and behavioral interaction with the child (Bettelheim, 1987).

(3) The parent's "self" needs to stay as a backdrop and parental expectations must give way to free development of the child. This is the concept of parental ability to bracket the parent's centrality for the centrality of the young child. This finds a parent consistently checking self motives and balancing insensitivity and oversensitivity.





66


It is in this area that fathers are deemed vital. Mother often is the parent who bears the stress of excessive demands on her time and energy which can erupt into exaggerated responses, such as overexpectations or u nderexpectations. Fathers classically distance from this arena, but the need is for fathers to become involved as a balancing element to ground realistic expectations.

(4) The child needs for parents to be actively interested and involved daily and not just around crisis or tense situations. The prime example of this is the family that becomes attentive only around test scores and school performance. This communicates to the child that there is little interest in him/her as a person.

(5) It is the parent's task to civilize the child and orient the child to humanity. This need addresses "empathy" that requires the parent to frequently remember his/her own childhood. Out of such a process comes the parenting question: "For whose benefit (do) we really act, our own or that of the child, (and are we) influenced by concern about the reaction of others: parents, friends, neighbors?" (Bettelheim, 1987, p. 75).

(6) Inquiries into the child's feelings or behaviors need to be done by avoiding the usage of "why." "Why" implies negativity or an





67


already established assumption. "I don't know" must be accepted as a basic ingredient of initial dialogue in a safe, parental holding environment.

(7) All parental discipline sets examples for the child. If a goal is to promote self respect, self confidence, and instill a conscience which disciplines the self, then punitive, chastizing practices are questionable. As problems between parent and child are grappled with, patience and self control on the part of the parents become more positive character building elements than correction and punishment.

(8) In order for the child to embrace the humanness of the parents and incorporate a sense of such in the child's self, the parents' pasts need to be known. The child needs to hear stories which convey lineage, heritage, and pride.

(9) "Process" must always remain central; that is, the child is developing, therefore he/she has not arrived at those points of "being in trouble." Bettelheim described this process as "he can do things he can do things for himself he is a true self this self can do (things) for him" (Bettelheim, 1987, p. 154). He believed that when parents can stay attuned to this process it is easier for them to





68


retain their contamination and more apt for them to enjoy the social emergence of their child.

(10) Play is a vital ingredient in the child's life and remains an important aspect in the adult years. Creativity is fostered that produces multiple usages of language, objects, and space. Fantasy promotes an ability to have a sense of an inner self which is real and available and not the sense of void experienced by so many adults. Success, problem solving, mastery, stimulation, patience, and perseverance are some of the learned and practiced aspects of play which are necessary character tools in modem society. The ability to play lessens stress and boredom. If learned well it becomes accessible by adults in a broad fashion and not just limited to being entertained. Bettelheim pointed out the misunderstanding boys often receive when their play aggresses and manipulates objects. He believed that if parents respond to these dynamics caringly and not just critically boys will emerge just as capable of interactive care as girls (Bettelheim, 1987). This was seen as another area where it is important for the children to have time around chores and activities with father apart from mother.





69


(11) If the hope is that the child will emerge as an adult who is able and confident, then parents must promote "winning." There is a natural tendency for children to lie and cheat which is directly connected to this need for "winning." The "good enough parent" will help the child save face, retreat, reframe, and reapproach in order to attain and retain a winning attitude. This is not to excuse destructive behavior, but to establish an environment which is always rehabilitative in nature.

(12) Bettelheim promoted the Biblical commandment to "honor father and mother" (Betteiheim, 1987). This is not to be misunderstood as a requirement to love or to respect parents when not deserved. It is, rather, when parents live their lives openly in front of their children in a manner in which children are impressed by their efforts and abilities. This was more easily practiced in ancient societies where children could observe the daily tasks of both fathers and mothers. Bettelheimn relayed: "(It is the) logical and nearly inescapable result of observing their parents as they attended to the daily routines of work which so clearly served the well-being of the family" (p. 323). Today, parents have to be more intentional





70


or children will never know the tasks and the complexities of their lives.

(13) Bettelheim's last element of "good enough" parenting seems to out-weigh the first twelve. It is that each parent must become connected with the child and stay connected throughout the growing-up years. The principle is that the relationship with a parent must not become a first attempt at intimacy for the child which ends in disappointment. The parental relationship is to exist as a base of acceptance, not an example of a rejecting or persecutory world. Both mother and father play a vital role in this foundation.

The work of Murray Bowen in formulating a transgenerational family systems theory (which he termed natural systems theory) is grounded in analytic thought, but greatly expands this thinking by addressing the contribution of family relational interactions to human development. Bowen (Kerr & Bowen, 1988) depicted an environment for the child which is natural and evolving as long as parental conflicts, family projections, parental over involvement, and parental under involvement remain minimal and short of established patterns. Gilbert (1992) interpreted Bowen's ideal parent-child





7 1


relationship as:

characterized by equality, separateness, and openness.
How can a relationship between an adult and a child or infant be a relationship of equals? While they are not equals in strength and skills, a parent can relate to a child as an equal in potential and in basic humanness.
The automatic 'doing for' posture that disables the child by playing to his or her weaknesses will be lessened. A cooperative stance with the child will be the norm instead of an overfunctioning or competitive one. This posture will be returned in kind by the child over time
(p. 152).

In this kind of relationship the parent stays boundary conscious, that is conscious of the invisible boundaries that separate oneself from another. When boundaries are intact and clear in the parent he/she will be capable of much less "automatic reactivity." So if a child becomes anxious, the parent does not automatically become anxious, and if a spouse becomes anxious, the partner does not follow suit. Displacement onto the child may then be lessened. This creates an ideal environment for communication in which the child is left feeling more safe and free to define and express his/her thinking to the parents.

In the environment that Gilbert portrayed each family member speaks "for the self and the self only" (Gilbert, 1992). This is an environment where principles can be taught out of patience and





72


intentionality rather than reactivity and invasion. It speaks out of the parents' life, not out of rigid dictates. It provides dialogue, relationship, and space for the children to feel safe with parents while they develop a different life out of their different life experiences. It is easy to see that if a family establishes such a style in the early years that the potential turmoil of adolescence can have a different definition and, perhaps, outcome. However, the difficulty is in the requirement for parents to spend a major portion of their lives focusing on their own maturity and working toward a higher functioning marital relationship. Gilbert speaks of a "confident interest in the child." What is meant by this is that the child's life problems are the child's to solve. The primary task of the parents is to so contain their individual selves and the anxiety of their relationship that the child does not become the center of their energies or the projective dumping ground of their intrapersonal and interpersonal fragments. "The best (legacy a parent can give children) is that of raising his or her (parents') own level of differentiation as high as possible in a generation. If that is the parental focus, the children will automatically function better" (Gilbert, 1992, p. 155). Differentiation is defined by natural systems





73


theorists as maintaining a sense of separateness while staying connected with the parental extended family. This allows an individual to clearly and freely bring his/her multi -generational influences into a marital relationship better able to respect that of the partner's and promote understanding and negotiation.

It becomes clear with the expansion into Bowenian thought that children do not need to become elements in a child-centered family. Instead, they need a stable, humanizing environment in which the parents are reasonably clear about their self definitions, able to contain their anxieties and expectations, and willing to be persons for their children whom they see as persons. The child needs both parents' involvement and needs to experience parents as his/her first successful intimacy. The work of Murray Bowen suggests a way to predict later life intimacy success by studying the triads as well as the dyads. This takes the father's influence in a son's life into an arena of multiplicity wherein the son is not just affected by father directly, but by all the patterns of father and mother in all their relationships, especially when they displace onto the son.





74


Transgenerational Dysfunction:
A Bridge to Multi generational Thinking

The focus of the object relations theories, contextual and intergenerational theories, and transgenerational theories reviewed in earlier sections of this chapter has been that of the parent-child relationship. Although theorists may disagree regarding the extent of the male effect in relationships and in the family, each of these theorists view a father's involvement or detachment as having immediate and lasting effects. Object relations theorists, when focusing on gender identity development, find father's involvement and consistency to be a necessity to normal gender identity solidification. Multi -generational theorists see the inevitability of the male being a defined part of multiple relationships within the family, and his movements and patterns become part of the family's movement along in health and function or repetitions of dysfunction. The male part in dysfunction will now be further discussed.

Framo (1972) believed that dysfunction resulted out of irrational role assignments which made it difficult for the child to interact normally and, subsequently, difficult to orchestrate healthy interaction as an adult. Framo identified a beginning list of "tenets" of being human: (a) human beings are fundamentally an object





75


seeking species, (b) human beings cannot really change objects in reality, so they create internal psychological substitutes, (c) these internal substitutes undergo transformation over the years as people develop new relationships, (d) people use their current relationships as symbolic pawns to heal previous conflicts in the original family, and (e) a person's choice of mate and treatment of children is based on a projective process by which spouses and children become "standins" for past primary object relationships. Framo saw these processes as repeating automatically until a therapeutic resource could be obtained to disrupt the patterns and become a real self. He advocated "going home again" as the only course to take away from interactional pathology (Framo, 1976). In the home visits the individual could claim self positions and dialogue about the family projections in a way that could yield respect and freedom to be one's own generation rather than replay the interaction with former generations. It is in that sort of hard work and struggle that the boy becomes the man, and the man becomes his creative, self defined father role for children whose voices and concerns he hears rather than echoes from his own childhood.





76


Nagy (Nagy and Spark, 1973) referred to "early developmental frustration overloads" which the child experiences when there is injustice. A child needs a "life space" of his/her own. When that space is invaded consistently by conscious and unconscious projections, and when there is neglect of support and nurturance, a sense of injustice ensues that follows the individual into adult relationships. The world will be experienced as frustrating and approached as owing him/her something. Paradoxically, the individual may not be freed to enjoy what is available. Dynamics such as sexual guilt and inhibition may result which Nagy described as "an undischarged obligation to repay parents, no matter how undeserving" (p. 257). Children in Nagy's thought need to thrive in a world where parents are partners and dialogical rather than rigid and role set. This produces a climate suitable for a "dialectical approach" where real thoughts and feelings can be expressed and processed with relational persons. This allows the intense dynamics, such as power, love, hate, instinct, freedom, control, self interest, and common good to be regularly approached and negotiated. Nagy described the potential pathological outcomes of failing to experience this interaction: "Unless the person can struggle with his negative





77


feelings and resolve them by acts based on positive, helpful attitudes towards his parent, he cannot really free himself of the intrinsic loyalty problem and has to 'live' the conflict, even after the parent's death, through pathological defensive patterns" (p. 20). Parental invasion of life space can occur overtly, but the most powerful ones are "overt, conscious attitudes" conflicting with "covert expectations." A son can be parentified in a manner that is easily understood when it occurs more overtly, (for example, mother asking for care, task fulfillment, and confidentiality more suitable toward her husband). But parentification is also occurring from father to son, for not only may father have high expectations to dream about son far advancing the maleness of his generation, he may also be threatened by such advancement. Distancing in his threatened state, leaving son to replace him with his wife, sets the stage for much responsibility for son with no unconditional- nurturance from mother and no real, dynamic relationship with father. This stage may well stay stable until adolescence, but in adolescence the person has growth needs that fluctuate between childishness and adulthood. He needs to spontaneously be able to lean on adults and, at other times, have them supportive of his responsible, ambitious self apart from them.





78


This is not to say that shared tasks in the family are not necessary or that even temporary parentification is not healthy (for example, when a parent is sick or a death has occurred). However, from a child rearing perspective, it serves as a time to learn responsibility and flexibility, not a time of permanent reliance. Reversals of positions in the family stand the risk of being taken in by the child as "rule" rather then "exception." Nagy noted: "the deprived child who was rejected by his parents can internalize such a degree of bitter resentment that he might subsequently use the whole world for getting even through revenge. Furthermore, by scapegoating his wife as a miserable mother, he not only gets even with his internalized parents through re-projection of pent-up resentment upon another person, but also protects his parents by taking his revenge out on someone else. Unconsciously he avoids blaming their memory while sacrificing his loyalty to his wife" (p. 25). Pathology, for Nagy, was that injustice records can be kept in invisible family patterns passing on to the next generation a constricted, absoluteness rather than dynamic, real, mutually respectful relationships.

The clearest form of pathology as it destructively affects human relationships can be seen in the borderline character





79


disorder. Everett and associates (1989) compiled a series of descriptions and explanations from an object relations and a family systems perspective. The current diagnositc descriptors of borderline behavior include impulsivity, unstable and intense interpersonal relationships, inappropriate anger, identity disturbances that include self image, sexual orientation, career, values, chronic boredom and emptiness, and an intense avoidance of abandonment. The object relations theorists argue that internal images are developed in infancy and early childhood out of the childparent relationship. Normality would be a resulting process wherein internal images accurately represent reality. Abnormality, then, is when the internal images become fixed, rigid, and stereotypic so as not to fit in a fluid, real world (Scharff, 1987). The rigidity occurs when the child begins to split the parent object into opposing good and bad. Melanie Klein saw this as the origin of the "bad self" introjected from a world perceived as persecutory (Everett, Halperin, Volgy, & Wissler, 1989). Fairbairn saw the early forms of tension between an "ego ideal" and an "ideal object" (Scharff, 1987). Mahler (1979) believed that, in rapprochement, boundaries need to be developed with goals of sharing, self confidence, and toleration of





80


ambivalence. The child will naturally experience loneliness, wish for mother's presence, and fear of engulfment as well. Mahler believed that a consistent, present father was significantly helpful in providing relief from mother. She believed that mother's own life circumstances would normally at times find her both clinging to and withdrawing from her infant. It is when there is a schism between mother and father along with unresolved conflicts from mother's past that the child can become a "projective respository" of the adults' ambivalent needs. The child accomodates and therefore develops behaviors which coincide with the needs, moods, and behaviors of the significant adult.

Kernberg (Everett, et. al., 1989) conjectured that a child needs to be "re-fueled" and when mother is not consistently there, the child stores up rage. However, this rage becomes internalized finding the child concluding with "being a bad child abandoned by an angry mother." Defense tendencies of splitting and projection may be avoided by a balanced relationship with a relationally balanced father and mother. Masterson (1985) concurred that without this balance all objects become identified as all good or all bad which prevents integration and relational negotiation. The exaggeration





8 1


finds the developing child only able to remember the negativity of life. The child, then, begins to develop the defense of projective identification to manage the unacceptable parts of the self. These parts of self are simply projected onto other close relationships, where he/she either identifies with the other and feels comfort or reacts to the other and feels justified and convinced that abnormality is reality.

Shapiro (Everett, et. al., 1989) in 1975 completed a study of 200 families over 8 years. He found that the parents functioned together as a dynamic unit. Thus he concluded that a study of only the mother-infant relationship was inadequate. The parents were observed as continuing to be emotionally bound to their own families of origin. This contaminated the parenting having the parents believing that, for example, "autonomy is good and dependency is bad"~ or ''autonomy is bad and dependency is good." The parent or child role was then rigidly viewed ideal or bad if excessively dependent or autonomous. When the opposite extreme was represented in, or expected from, each parent, the children were torn between loyalty and betrayal, unable to have their own freedom to explore. Mandelbaum (Everett, et. al., 1989) in 1977 studied parents





82


of borderline personalities. He observed that they were deeply enmeshed with their children. They were parenting more out of their own separation traumas than informed, responsive parenting.

Wolberg (Everett, et. al., 1989) expanded the list of personal disorders that had been levied on mothers to include fathers. Fathers of borderlines were diagnosed as absent, emotionally distant, passive/aggressive, controlling, paranoid, mildly psychopathic, and depressive. This was seen as congruent with Mahler's allowance that father was needed as a "protector from the potentially overwhelming mother of separation"' (Mahler, 1979a). Grinker & Werbie (Everett, et. al., 1989) concluded that when there is a parental failure due to absence or distance of the father there is no dynamic to conteract the regressive pull of the mother and she gains exclusive control of the infant" (p. 26). Gunderson and his associates (Everett. et. al., 1989) described this dynamic as the attachment needs of the parents, (toward each other and their own parents) persistently taking precedence over the actual needs of the children. It is, then, the tenuous marital relationship that allows for a projection process to occur which provides a semblance of balance. Masterson (1985)





83


considered the child who was parentified as the "caretaker" as destined to be the "borderline carrier."

As studies have evolved since Mahler's early work, more acknowledgement has been given to parental promotion of pathology rather than a simple mother-child interaction. It is now believed that when parents become overinvolved with their children and in their children's sibling relations out of their own history of unresolved conflicts, and when children protect and rescue their parents' relationship by becoming overinvolved in the parents' spousal subsystem, that excessive pathology abounds. Everett (1989) noted that relational life was usually easier for female borderline carriers than for male borderline carriers. The female tends to replicate the patterns through a husband, but the male has usually experienced limited male role modeling. The resultant cross gender intensity establishes yearnings of over clinging and/or abandoning before being abandoned. This becomes a base, then, for replication in his son.

Slipp (1984) included in his work a collection of psychological studies of children of holocaust survivors. Children with relational problems were deemed unstable due to the emotional unavailability





84


of their parents. Their parents were emotionally stuck, still unable to work through their grief over lost family members. In addition, expectations of parents for their children to succeed were high, but also bound antithetically with a parental jealousy when they experienced their children having advantages that they lacked. Slipp categorized four basic family interaction patterns that accounted for the child evolving into schizophrenia, hysterical and borderline disorders, depression, and delinquency. The child's role in the fathermother-child triangle was, in the above order of pathologies: scapegoat, go-between, savior, and avenger. The fathers (in the same order) were identified as (a) narcissistic and unable to process negative feelings and negotiate a depth relationship with spouse; (b) narcissistic with ego defenses of splitting and projective identification in which the wife is seen as "bad object" by husband and he idealizes the child as- "good object." The child is set up to be glue to hold together a marriage; (c) father is either overly powerful and dominant, or weak and depressed (or fluctuates). The child is set up to enter the world vicariously for father, and since this is a "conditional acceptance," the dynamic finds the father needing the child to fail and stay as well. The child, then, is in a double bind in





85


which there is an overt demand to achieve along with a covert parental need or expectation for him/her to fail; and (d) the father is distant which promotes an over attachment of child to mother. The child, then, is insecure and hungry for nurturance from father, but the child is also rageful about engulfment by and loyalty to mother. When the child is asymptomatic there is acting out via delinquency.

Feldman (Meth & Pasick, 1990) identified four types of dysfunctional father-son relationships with related outcomes: (a) "disengagement" defined as very little daily contact which may clinically promote depression or conduct disorders, (b) "conflict" when father is only the disciplinarian resulting in even more behavioral problems and an aggressive nature in the son, (c) coalition'' implying a cross -generational phenomenon with father coming on the scene only as peacemaker between mother and children, and (d) "abuse" which results in the son emerging as rigid with low self esteem, poor impulse control, low tolerance for frustration, and either an authoritarian himself or passive and distant due to being repulsed by violence.

Gilette (1992), writing about the current "~men' s movement,"~ noted the persistence of father as absent or distant perpetuating the





86


male dilemma. Gilette's interpretation was that "when father is absent the boy is left to fend for himself in what is usually a hostile feminine environment (and is) crippled in his developmental tasks" (p. 5 3) Men come to adult relationships disempowered, and what appears to be autonomy or dominance is a reaction formation. Men become disempowered in two ways: (a) non-gender specific when there is a "not good enough mother" and a "not good enough and balanced enough holding environment," and (b) gender specific wherein an emerging masculine self is injured instead of nurtured by father, uncles, older brothers, and other male role models. Men, according to Gilette, emerge vulnerable and unable to determine and draw appropriate self boundaries and relational boundaries. They, then, tend to distance during heterosexual conflict and pursue during high anxiety (for example, when feeling they are being abandoned). This, of course, often takes on the stereotypes of macho dominance/attack or insensitivity/detachment.

Meth and Pasick (1990) wrote about machoism developing out of father's unavailability. It leaves the boy unable to define and prove his masculinity except by renouncing the support and connection of the first woman in his life (mother). This will





87


frequently be delayed until adolescent dating or even marriage. Mother, then, will be renounced for the nurturance of another woman. Yet, without the nurturance of a male role model, the emerging man's masculinity remains uncertain. This will often lead to him demonstrating repetitive cycles in which he will renounce and leave the nurturance of one woman for another and another. To complicate further, boys often win the right to re-attach to their mothers by proving themselves to be of nurturance value to mother. They become more used to feeling held hostage to get some care, while still feeling lonely and vulnerable nevertheless. The man either stays so emotionally preoccupied with this in his adult life that there is little left over for children who may have come along, or his own "unfinished child" stays competitive with the children.

Meth and Pasick (1990) also identified dynamics that serve to sustain the male dysfunction. These are categorized as gender stereotypes and skewed social rules. Men are still expected to be insensitive to their own and others' feelings, see expression of feeling as a weakness, place high value on the rational, disguise deeper feelings by conflicting or distorting communication, avoid intimacy and commitment, use alcohol and drugs to block out their feelings,





88


and restrict their emotions to the point of excessive stress and stress related illnesses. The skewed rules are for the purpose of sustaining the above social myths about men and emotions: must be competitive in sports, must depend on women to fulfill their emotional needs, must use sex as the outlet for emotions and the way to experience love, tenderness, and affection, must drink to enhance feelings, must be totally controlled at work, and must handle, suppress, or move beyond upsetness as quickly as possible.

The trend of an increase of men in therapy seems not only hopeful in intervening into the above constrictions, but it seems to reinforce that men have behaved in stereotypic manners in marriage and parenting not by choice but by emotional barriers. Meth and Pasick (1990) described the male self esteem to not only be diminished by having no positive male role model, but compounded by feeling to blame for father's absence and feeling unable to meet up to an idealized notion of the father's abilities. Men, then, are left with unfinished emotionality to resolve and left with family and societal distortions which need education and training. Meth and Pasick argued that "unless the male is helped to explore his relation to his father, then he is acting out his maleness and not able to





89


determine for himself, consciously, what kind of male, husband, father, friend he wants to be" (p. 246).

Today's woman, as represented in major magazines for over a decade, declares that she wants a kind of man different from the industrial age, but this is not the kind of man most fathers have taught their sons to be (Cottle, 1991). Today's family was depicted by Cottle as more active than ever before in an interfacing with schools, corporations, agencies, and international concerns; and with the primary skills for success being communication, cooperation, negotiation, respect, and mutuality. It was argued that this is not the kind of family and set of family rules which many people have in their past. To create new, successful work and social futures Cottle believes that it is imperative that pathologies of the past be studied and understood and that therapy and education be available to promote the kind of early environment which produces a child equipped with self esteem who is more able, as an adult, to cope with diversity, ambivalence, and frustration.

The transgenerational family systems theory offers a broader scope providing resources of observation to enable the identification of functional or dysfunctional patterns and interactions. It brings the




Full Text

PAGE 1

EFFECTS OF FAMILY OF ORIGIN PROCESSES AND FATHER-SON RELATIONSfflPS ON MIDLIFE MALE INTIMACY By LARRY D.WAGONER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTL\L FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 1994

PAGE 2

Copyright 1994 by Larry D. Wagoner

PAGE 3

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to acknowledge my family of origin, whose legacy served as an inspiration for both my career in family therapy and this research. I also wish to acknowledge my wife, Janelle, and my children, Jennifer and Nathan, who not only have been loving and supportive, but have provided me with a context of richness of love and intimacy where I have furthered my self-differentiation and my attempt to promote a healthier, freer legacy. I also wish to acknowledge the support, dialogue, and creative editing of Dr. Ellen Amatea, my doctoral chair. Also, Dr. Peter Sherrard assisted in promoting an integration of my religious and psychological background. Dr. David Miller provided patience and assistance with the statistical analyses. Finally, Dr. Sam Hill has not only been helpful in suggestions and editing, but his reminder of allegiance to ethical thinking and promoting healthier subsequent generations has reminded me of my original roots and values. Ill

PAGE 4

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii LISTOFTABLES vii ABSTRACT ix CHAPTERS 1 INTRODUCTION 1 Scope of the Problem 3 Theoretical Framework 1 6 Need for the Study 2 8 Purposes of the Study 2 9 Research Questions 3 Definition of Terms 3 i Organization of the Study 3 6 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE 3 8 The Psychoanalytic View of Family Influence 3 8 The Male's Family Role in Psychoanalytic Thinking 4 6 The Tasks of Parenting in Analytic Thinking 60 Transgenerational Dysfunction: A Bridge to Multi generational Thinking 7 4 Multigenerational Patterns 9 3 METHODOLOGY 1 04 IV

PAGE 5

Research Design and Delineation of Variables 105 Family of Origin Process Variables 106 Current Relationship Process Variables 109 Relational Adaptability and Cohesiion 1 1 1 Father-Son Family of Origin Process Variables 1 1 2 Population 1 13 Sampling Procedures 1 1 4 Resultant Sample 117 Instrumentation 122 Demographic Information Questionnaire 122 Marital Satisfaction Scale (MSS) 123 Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire (PAFS-Q) 1 2 4 Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale Il-Couples Version 127 Data Collection Procedures 129 Research Hypotheses 130 Hypothesis One 130 Hypothesis Two 1 3 1 Hypothesis Three 131 Hypothesis Four 131 Data Analytic Procedures 132 4 RESULTS 1 3 3 Research Hypotheses 133 Hypothesis One 133 Hypothesis Two 141 Hypothesis Three 146 Hypothesis Four 147 5 DISCUSSION 1 5 2 Discussion of the Results 15 3 Hypothesis One 153 Hypothesis Two 155 Hypothesis Three 15 7

PAGE 6

Hypothesis Four 158 Limitations of the Study 164 Suggestions for Future Research 166 Implications of the Study 168 Summary and Conclusions 170 APPENDIX DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION QUESTIONNAIRE 1 7 3 BIBLIOGRAPHY 176 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 1 9 1 VI

PAGE 7

LIST OF TABLES Table Page 3.1 Means and Range of Age, Length of Current Relationship, Number of Marriages, Number of Children, and Ages of Children 119 3.2 Frequency Distribution of Descriptive Variables 119 4.1 Analysis of Variance of Intergenerational Intimacy by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status 135 4.2 Analysis of Variance of Intergenerational Fusion by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status 136 4.3 Analysis of Variance of Intergenerational Intimidation by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status 138 4.4 Mean Scores of Intergenerational Intimidation by Group and Race 13 8 4.5 Analysis of Variance of Intergenerational Triangulation by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status 139 4.6 Analysis of Variance of Personal Authority by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status 140 4.7 Mean Scores of Personal Authority by Group 141 4.8 Analysis of Variance of Spousal Intimacy by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status 143 4.9 Mean Scores of Spousal Intimacy by Race 143 vii

PAGE 8

4.10 Analysis of Variance of Spousal Fusion by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status 144 4.11 Mean Scores of Spousal Fusion by Satisfaction Groups 144 4.12 Analysis of Variance of Nuclear Triangulation by Group, Race, and Socioeconomic Status 145 4.13 Mean Scores of Nuclear Family Triangulation by Satisfaction Groups 146 4.14 Correlation Analysis of FACES Il-Couples Version and Group (Marital Satisfaction Scale) 147 4.15 Correlation Analysis of FACES Il-Couples Version (functional types) with Spousal Intimacy, Spousal Fusion/Individuation, and Nuclear Family Triangulation 149 4.16 Correlation Analysis of FACES Il-Couples Version (functional types) with Father-Son Intimacy, Father-Son Triangulation, and Father-Son Intimidation 150 4.17 Correlation Analysis of FACES Il-Couples Version (functional types) with Intergenerational Fusion/ Individuation and Personal Authority 151 Vlll

PAGE 9

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to tlie Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy EFFECTS OF FAMILY OF ORIGIN PROCESSES AND FATHER-SON RELATIONSHIPS ON MIDLIFE MALE INTIMACY By Larry D. Wagoner December 1994 Chairperson: Ellen S. Amatea Major Department: Counselor Education This study utilized transgenerational family system theory as a conceptual framework for exploring the relational functioning of midlife men who differed in terms of their relationship satisfaction. The perceptions of family of origin interactional processes and fatherson interaction of two groups of men who differed in their reported relationship satisfaction were compared. Also, relationships among family of origin interactional processes, father-son interaction, and perceptions of current relationship functioning were explored. Eighty-two men who were self-selected participated in the ix

PAGE 10

study. The men ranged in ages from 35-50 and were drawn from African-American and white male subgroups and from lower and middle class socioeconomic groups. Each was married or living with a partner for at least one year, was heterosexual, and was the biological father of at least one child, had at least a high school education, and had been employed for the past five years. Participants completed four paper-and-pencil assessments, which evaluated five family of origin interactional processes (fusion, intimacy, triangulation, personal authority, and intimidation), three current relational processes (fusion, intimacy, and triangulation), and current relationship structure (adaptability and cohesion). Using three-way analyses of variance procedures, the effect of level of relationship satisfaction on scores on each of the five family of origin variables was assessed after controlling for race and socioeconomic status. The results of these analyses revealed that two out of the five variables -level of intimidation and extent of personal authority— significantly differentiated the satisfied and dissatisfied group. The satisfied group reported significantly lower levels of intergenerational intimidation (p<.019) and significantly

PAGE 11

higher levels of personal authority (p<.046) than the dissatisfied group. Additionally, there was a significant difference by race (p<.007) in the level of intergenerational intimidation reported, with black men reporting significantly more intimidation than white men. Three-way analysis of variance procedures were also used to analyze the responses of the men's perceptions of current relational functioning on each variable (intimacy, fusion, and triangulation) by satisfaction level, after controlling for race and socioeconomic status. There were significant differences noted an all variables (p<.001) by group, with the satisfied group reporting significantly higher levels than the dissatisfied group (more intimacy, less fusion, and less triangulation). In contrast, the results of the analyses of perceptions of father-son relationships revealed only one significant association of father-son triangulation (p<.011). Possible explanations and implications for these findings were discussed, along with directions for future research in this area. XI

PAGE 12

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Sons who experience closeness, nurturance, and guidance from their fathers become the kinds of husbands who are able to be intimate and committed to their wives and close and stable in their interactions with their children. This is the belief held by many mental health professionals and advocates of the "men's movement." Illustrative of this way of thinking is the work of Pittman (1993), a family therapist and author of Man Enough: Fathers. Sons, and the Search for Masculinity who suggested that we need a "men's movement" that affirms and endorses the reality that boys need fathers, in addition to mothers, to nurture them, to exemplify a stable identity as a male, and to be a guide towards being a man. Popular music reverberates with a similar theme of "father hunger" through songs such as the remake of "Cat's in the Cradle," a song about fatherhood written by Harry and Sandy Chapin in 1974. Capturing the yearning of a growing son for closeness and experience with his father, this song depicts father's busy-ness and how it keeps his son at bay until the day in the son's adult life when the father 1

PAGE 13

reports that "He's grown up just like me. My boy was just like me." Such books and music would have us believe that if only fathers reclaimed their rightful place in the rearing of sons all would be well. But are midlife men's difficulties with emotional closeness and/or commitment a result only of the quality of their relationship with their fathers? What of the broader web of relationships in which father and son relating has been embedded: the interplay of mother with father, of mother with son and father, of father with son and mother? Family systems theorists suggest that rather than examining only the interaction between father and son, the style of interaction of the family unit as a whole should be the focus of examination because it is in the whole of family interaction that relational competence is shaped. Interestingly, there is very little research evidence that supports either view: either that father-son relating predicts later life relational competence or that motherfather-son relating predicts later competence. This study sought to explore this issue by examining how well midlife men's current relational functioning and satisfaction can be predicted based on family-of-origin relationship factors or on father-son relationship factors.

PAGE 14

Scope of the Problem There has been a groundswell of interest in recent years in examining the relationship between midlife men's psychological development and their current patterns of involvement in work and family life. Theorists describe midlife men as particularly vulnerable to questioning their commitments and competencies. For example, in Levinson's model of male midlife development (Levinson, 1978) as well as in Erikson's model of psychosocial development (Erikson, 1968), men who have done poorly at the young adult level in resolving the tasks of "intimacy versus isolation" are depicted as more prone to dependent intimate relationships in later life. As these men pass through their 40s and enter the struggles of the "generativity versus stagnation" stage, they are pressed by society to commit their full resources to fulfill career ambitions and to maximize their socioeconomic status. Such men are often found fluctuating between the former dependent posture of blaming their partner for their lack of relational success or assuming a workaholic posture that, in its drivenness, keeps the partner distant and the relationship of lower priority.

PAGE 15

From a family systems perspective Williamson (1982a) theorized that the midlife man would be at his clearest and strongest place to exert an integrated self-authority characterized by confidence and self-differentiation. However, if midlife men experienced anxiety rather than competence, they would demonstrate this through ineffective interactive processes. In the popular literature, explanations for midlife men's intimacy difficulties have focused on "the absent father syndrome" (Williams, 1992). Fathers who have been characterized as incapable of providing the kind of emotional presence and support their families need are described as men who did not have their own emotional needs met when they were growing up. This is said to result in the emergence of a kind of man who denies and minimizes emotions and meaningful aspects of life; who is either distant or wears his emotions on his sleeve (especially anger); who often appears empty and disappointed, with few memories of his own childhood; and who longs for appreciation and relationship, but often loses out and then blames himself for the loss. Other popular authors such as Bly (1990) have underscored the need for a father's presence

PAGE 16

in the lives of sons. Applying the concept of "mimesis" to explain the need for the father-son relationship, Bly wrote: Now, standing next to the father, as the two repair arrowheads or repair ploughs, or wash pistons in gasoline, or care for birthing animals, the son's body has the chance to retune. Slowly, over months or years, that son's body strings begin to resonate to the harsh, sometimes demanding, testily humorous, irreverent, forwarddriving, silence loving older masculine body. Both male and female cells carry marvelous music, but the son needs to resonate to the second as well as to the first. Sons who have not received this tuning or retuning will have father hunger all their lives (Bly, 1990, p. 94). But is it a matter of just being there, side by side? Such poetic declarations not only underscore the public's thinking about the costs of men's lack of involvement in parenting, but they epitomize the perspective taken by early researchers in this area. The earliest perspective taken by researchers studying how men's psychological development was shaped by early life experiences assumed that life without a father resulted in severe psychological disturbance for young men. The work of Mittscherlich (1963) illustrates this perspective. As chronicled in the book Society Without the Father: A contribution to Social Psychology Mittscherlich assumed that children/young men raised in fatherless homes would demonstrate significant psychological impairment.

PAGE 17

Three fatherless situations were studied--the Kibbutz, the American Black family, and individuals who had lost their fathers by death or abandonment between the ages of four and six. Kibbutz children were reported as less emotionally alert, materialistic, less interested in ultimate concerns, showing loyalty preferences for peers over their family members, but still seeking out and identifying with a direct father substitute. In contrast, among the Black families studied, "big Mama," who was a masculinized female authority, or an older sibling, became the father substitute while the father was often seen as estranged from the family. Fatherhood came, then, to equate with "Black power," with fathering often seen as militant. Different still were the early loss survivors. These tended to construct an abstract image that brought a sense of an indirect presence, but was often a sadistic introjection. It was not in order to "be like a father" but to have a strong internal father to handle the boy's ambivalence about mother. The inferences of the study were that such arrangements were unacceptable and probably harmful. Although there is an intuitive appeal to examining the influence of father's presence or absence on son's later life development, there has been limited research evidence compiled

PAGE 18

that suggests that the mere presence or absence of a father is the causal factor in male psychological adjustment. Many of these research efforts have been based on psychodynamically oriented developmental theories, which have attempted to identify what men have been about as well as, or other than, their involvement with partner and children. These researchers and theorists have attempted to show that men, as stereotypically demonstrated in their stages and processes, may be unable to be good nurturers. The theories, however, have been male biased (Gilligan, 1982) in the sense of how the stereotypes of men in society have been incorporated into the theories of human development. How men are currently understood in light of the developmental theories of Erikson, Levinson, Kohlberg, and Piaget may be an incorporation of the shift from a rural, trade, and craft society to the urban and industrial movement originating in the 19th century (Gadlin, 1977). Gadlin explained how the world became "work" rather than "family." Experiences such as intimacy now became needs that one must strive to achieve in the demanding schedule. Men were often found securing affiliation needs more so on the job or at the pub on the way home than with spouse and children. Erikson's notion of

PAGE 19

"generativity," in this context, appears to be a social rationalization to promote conformity to a distorted and stressful arrangement. Even though women are now in the work world and even though a growing number of men claim a desire for more involved child care, the promotion of a claim of simple gender differences when it comes to affection and relationships has continued. Several studies have been conducted that document the fallacy of the claim that men cannot, by nature, be nurturers or good receivers of nurturance. Sawin and Parke (1979) observed dozens of mother-to-newborn and father-to-newborn interactions. In the feeding it was found that fathers were just as active and just as sensitive and elicited just as many responses with the baby as did the mother. During the 1970s a second approach to identifying those variables affecting men's relational competence and adjustment emerged with the conceptualization that differences in men's relational competence were tied to qualitatively rather than quantitatively different dyadic experiences with their fathers. The psychodynamic theories of John Bowlby, Margaret Mahler, Melanie Klein, and D. W. Winnicott were often used to interpret the nature of

PAGE 20

the influence of early childhood events on men's personality development. While John Bowlby's extraordinary work on attachment and separation helped to frame the importance of the quality of the caretaker's relationship during the early childhood years, certain object relations theorists such as Margaret Mahler, Melanie Klein, and D. W. Winnicott delineated a very distinctive role that fathers were purported to have in their children's development. Mahler (1979b) theorized that during the rapprochement stage (a stage in early childhood in which the toddler realizes that his/her love objects are separate from him/herself), father was seen as the object coming toward the child as if "from outer space." According to Mahler, when mother became too intense with feelings and frustrations, it was the father who served as a relief and, subsequently, a resolution of the mother-child ambivalence. Mahler believed that father needed to be "cathected" as a second attachment for the child before rapprochement so that separation experiences could be experimented with by the child alternately with mother and with father with the assurance of the other's nurturance. Mahler believed that if the child could experience adequate object constancy in this way with both mother and father, then normalcy in

PAGE 21

10 personality and relationality would occur. If an inadequate resolution occurred, there would be either a resultant intrapsychic conflict, which would later manifest itself as a neurosis, or the development of an incomplete personality structure, resulting in a narcissistic or borderline character disorder. Samuel Osherson (1986) provided a modern day interpretation of the tenets of psychodynamic theory. He contends that many men have persistently missed out on positive personality growth by being denied nurturance from their fathers and by denying themselves active participation in the parenting of their children. He further asserts that men cannot arrive at a helpful definition of male intimacy because of distorted images of their own fathers. Left to natural consequences the man either acts out with his partner and children what he got or did not get from his father, or he remains in his deprived inner child and punishes himself by remaining peripheral and isolated from his family. Although the influence of the father-son and mother-son relationships on later life relating is given considerable weight by a number of clinicians and social change advocates, there has been limited empirical research substantiating the pivotal nature of the

PAGE 22

1 1 father-child relationship. Much of this research has been conducted as an attempt to determine the etiology of mental illness. In his observations of families over the years, Kohut (1977) concluded that there were many patterns of parental failures that were well beyond a more simple intrapsychic conflict in the adult child. Confirming an important role for the father, Cohen and his associates (1954) carried out intensive observational studies of the families of manicdepressive psychotic patients. They determined that the father element was central: mother blamed father, mother became strong and dominant but cold, father was weak but lovable, and one child was seemingly selected to make up for father's failure. Beck (1967), in his diagnosis and treatment of depression, reaffirmed these postures and their tendencies to be passed on to the next generation. Beck concluded that the depressed person possessed a cognitive set that preceded affect and behavior. He believed that thought and interaction patterns, in both the minds of his patients and in their family relationships, explained the etiology of depression. Lewis (1989), in his longitudinal study of marital couples, reported a significant correlation between a man's positive recall of his own father's fathering and his current relationship interaction

PAGE 23

12 and satisfaction. His study, which measured over 60 family of origin variables, serves as a bridge toward a consideration of more complex formulations of the father-son relationship quality. During the 1980s and early 1990s a third approach to identifying those variables affecting men's relational competence and adjustment gained ground. In this conceptualization differences in men's relational competence were hypothesized to be tied not just to qualitatively different dyadic experiences with their fathers, but to the overall emotional and interactional process of the family of origin. Theorists became intrigued by questions such as "How do certain emotional processes shared by the entire family of origin affect a man's (or woman's) psychological adjustment?" and "What specific patterns of intimate relating shape a person's relational competence?" Family systems theorists operating from this third perspective proposed that family-wide styles of interaction shape the ways men and women respond in intimate interaction with their partners and progeny. Additional factors that may influence the etiology of male relational competence are racial group membership and socioeconomic status. Although these variables are assumed to have

PAGE 24

13 significant effects, very little research has been conducted to ascertain their actual effect on relationship functions and intimacy. Boyd-Franklin (1989) in Black Families in Therapy: A Multisystems Approach argued that Blacks more than Whites are particularly vulnerable to the effect of multigenerational transmission issues. Black families have a high frequency of "family secrets" with the most toxic ones often falling under a rule of "never to be discovered." Boyd-Franklin explained that within such rigidity, patterns become unconscious. The family members are unaware that repetitions are occurring. Black males, then, are apt to repeat in their own relational places that which has remained unresolved in the families of origin. Staples and Johnson (1993) seemed to concur partially in citing a significantly higher percentage of Blacks divorcing than Whites. For example, between 1973 and 1980 there were 37.2% divorces among Black males while only 22.2% among White males. However, Staples referred to numerous demographic questionnaires where Blacks report that economics is the number one factor in their decision to divorce. Staples explained this is contrasting lower class communities with middle class communities. In lower class communities there are two standards for men: a stable, long

PAGE 25

14 marriage and ongoing relationships with women outside of marriage. The male is seen as caught in a self-image concern, needing to appear attractive and virile. A shortage of money is a double stress experienced within the family as a survival need and in the social life of the male as status and image needs. Staples explained that a shift occurs with Blacks belonging to the middle class. Social activities become prominent with more concern over the social status of the family. If there are extramarital affairs they are not made public. Couples are more likely to work harder at conflict to prevent divorce, for this would threaten to lower social status. However, anxiety around money is prevalent, and husbands are more prone to accuse their wives of over-spending, which may generate additional dissatisfaction. McAdoo (1988) further reinforced the significance of economics in Black relationships and argues against significant differences of men as family members across the races. She cited Cazenave's study indicating that middle income Black fathers are more active in the care of their children. Low socioeconomic Black fathers are invested in their children but retain a rigid posture: head of the family, punisher of disobedient children, enforcer of strict rules and

PAGE 26

15 regulations, focused on the consequences of behaviors rather than motives. McAdoo referred to two significant studies refuting racial differences in parenting. She cited a 1978 study done by Bartz and Sevine in which 455 parents of different ethnic groups were interviewed and observed. The ethnic differences were "one of degree, not kind." In this study it was also concluded that similar expectations of children were shared by all socioeconomic classes. A study in 1979 conducted by Mackey and Day was tagged by McAdoo as "the most comprehensive cross-cultural observational study on fathering." Father figures were studied among races in the United States, Ireland, Spain, Japan, and Mexico. The study results revealed no significant difference in parental interaction between men and women. Coner-Edwards (1988) acknowledged the effect of socioeconomic status on Black relationships but emphasized the psychological dimensions of the Black male. He contended that the reason marriages fail is a failure at intimacy, and this failure is based upon internal fears and anxieties. These fears lead to defensive patterns of distance and withdrawal, with the Black male seen as prone to stereotyping, having difficulty with anger, having an

PAGE 27

16 inability to deal with the complexity of a partner, having difficulty in caring for his "inner child," and finding it difficult to carry his "adult self" into current relationships. When socioeconomic status increases, there is reason to expect that some stress will decrease, which may allow for more selection of options. When there is job security, parents do seem to have more time and energy to relate and work on their problems. However, this, according to Coner-Edwards, must be framed in light of the intrapsychic processes. The emotional and interactional processes and the multigenerational transmission process are not well known among African-Americans nor contrasted among socioeconomic classes. These processes may well be dominant among Black males as well as White males and may be significant for all socioeconomic levels. Theoretical Framework Transgenerational family systems theory provides a rich theoretical lens through which to attempt to understand the role of family of origin influences on current intimate relationship functioning. The role of family of origin influences on intimate relationship competence is given prominence in the works of Boszormenyi-Nagy (1987) and Bowen (1985). Both theorists assume

PAGE 28

17 that to understand how an individual interacts in his/her current intimate relationship, one must understand how family members functioned in each partner's family of origin. Nagy, representing somewhat of a middle ground between the psychodynamic traditions of Bowlby and Winnicott and the more systemic propositions of Bowen, contended that when an individual experiences active ownership and involvement by each parent, a sense of "ontic loyalty" occurs, leaving the child indebted to pass on a legacy of nurturance to the next generation. He contended that the child's legacy contains certain "streams of influence" shaped by the child's experience with each parent, and when father takes ownership there are two streams of influence bringing balance to the child. In contrast, Bowen looked not only at the patterns of relating of each parent and child but at the patterns of relating across the entire family group. According to Bowen, families are subject to numerous stresses and anxieties in the process of living together. Because family members are sensitive to each others' emotional states, they develop patterned ways of handling these tensions and anxieties. Some of these patterns for handling tension are more functional than are others. Bowen (as discussed in Gilbert, 1992) identified five

PAGE 29

18 problematic patterns that families may use to handle their emotional anxiety and tensions. These patterns are open conflict, cutoff, dysfunction in a spouse, dysfunction in a child resulting from triangling, or an unstable marital partnership. Bowen believed that families develop preferred v^'ays of handling anxiety over time. Although these patterns resolve anxieties in the family over the short term, the causes of these anxieties, the emotional immaturity of the individual family members, never get attention. Thus, if there is tension between marital partners, a child may receive a disproportionate amount of emotional attention either positive or negative as the parents choose to focus on concerns they have with the child rather than deal with conflict with their partner. These various dysfunctional patterns of handling emotional tension and anxiety often result in individual family members never having the experience of a sense of separateness or independence of feeling and thinking from other family members. When individuals who have experienced such a state of "fusion" in their own families of origin seek to build love relationships on their own, Bowen predicted that they would demonstrate a limited capacity for self-management and would experience a constant struggle over issues of excessive

PAGE 30

19 closeness or distance in intimate relating with others. Thus, in transgenerational family systems theory (referred to by Kerr & Bowen, 1988, as Natural Systems Theory for its attempt to be scientifically based and aligned with biological observations) it is assumed that an individual's current style of intimate relating is shaped by his/her experience within his/her own family of origin and, more specifically, by the patterned ways of dealing with emotional tensions enacted within the original family, A number of researchers have sought to discern the tie between children's functioning and current family relationships. Belsky and his associates (1991) conducted a study revealing the result of a negative relationship between wife and husband on the children. Subjects were 100 families who volunteered to participate in a family development project at Pennsylvania State University. Summations were to be done as the families' first children turned three years of age. Chi-square analyses were used. The study showed that when there was a qualitative decline in the marital relationship, men related more negatively with their children. Kleiman (1981) attempted to demonstrate that healthy families have better marital/parental coalitions and that the generational

PAGE 31

20 boundaries are clearer. "Healthy" was used to contrast with average families identified as "normal." Kleiman's population consisted of families whose children attended a private school adjacent to a major urban city. The sample was composed of Caucasian males in intact families where both natural parents were living together. Fiftythree eleventh and twelfth graders participated. Two-tailed t-tests were used to compare the group scores. Results revealed that in comparison with normal families (a distinction derived by using the "Offer Self-image Questionaire" and the "Family Structure Questionaire"), healthy families were found to have substantially more effective parental coalitions and generational boundaries. The parents' involvement with each other was intimate and trusting and had a positive effect on the children's development. The authors suggested that while this positive impact on the children implied a better preparedness for marriage for the children, there was a need for further confirmation of this pattern. Doane (1978) summarized the research of the 1970s on the influence of fathers to determine themes, discriminants, and implications for clinical practice. He suggested that the research evidence led to the following generalizations: (a) the attitude of one

PAGE 32

21 parent toward the other in relation to the children was substantial, (b) the interaction of the parents itself was noteworthy in predicting diagnosis, (c) cross-generational boundary intrusion was observed frequently in disturbed families, and (d) much evidence pointed to a high correlation between parent-child coalitions and a weak or conflicted marital relationship. This meant that the "other parent," be it father or mother, was often aggravating or even counteractive in the parenting process. Several other researchers have attempted to discern the effect of fathers on family relating. In a study on adolescent adjustment Teyber (1983a) interviewed a sample of 262 late adolescent college students. He found that boys more than girls perceived the fathermother dyad as primary. Girls were more likely to focus on the mother-child relationship. It is interesting, however, that the girls who were able to see their parent's marital relationship as primary were better adjusted. This research reported weak findings concerning the reported effect of fathers on personality development, with fathers perceived as more influential by daughters and mothers more influential by sons. The strongest research conclusion concerned the positive effect on the adolescent

PAGE 33

22 personality development of both a strong marital dyad and appropriate boundaries between the marital couple and the children and the extended family. A similar study, conducted by Teyber (1983b), focused on "adolescent emancipation from the family." Teyber used a sample of 72 eighteen-year-old college freshmen, 36 on academic probation and 36 with a GPA of 2,5 or above. Equal numbers of students differing in ethnicity and SAT scores were contrasted. The study used three experimenters who were trained in interviewing the students about family relational patterns. In the interview the subjects were to draw a map of three generations and to identify subgroups, alliances, and coalitions. Teyber found that if the marriage of the mother and father was not the primary dyad (such as when parent and child bonding was the dominant/primary dyad), the adolescents had notably more difficulty in leaving the family. Students from families in which the marital dyad was primary were rated as more likely to succeed academically and were more internal on the Rotter I-E scale. This study reinforces the notion that primary family alliances may significantly determine later life adjustments.

PAGE 34

23 Mueller and Pope (1977) examined the relationship between women's marital relationship stability and their family generational dynamics. Subjects were drawn from a 1970 national sample of adult females, followed up in 1977, and balanced racially. The conclusion of their correlation study was that the marital instability of a woman's parents leads to a "high risk" mate selection and that this results in higher divorce and separation rates for the offspring. While this study is helpful in showing strong evidence of a relationship between family of origin and current relationship stability, it remained weak in identifying more specific family interaction variables. Building on the study of Mueller and Pope, Fine and Hovestadt (1984) designed a study focused on the transmission of relational health rather than pathology. They sought to determine whether there were strong associations among perceived marital satisfaction, rational thinking ability, and perceptions of health in the family of origin. The study utilized the Family of Origin Scale, the Rational Behavior Inventory, and the Semantic Differential Scale. Subjects were 128 undergraduate students. The analyses of variance interpretations revealed that there was substantial evidence to

PAGE 35

24 believe that high levels of rationality and positive perceptions of marriage were transmitted from the family of origin. These multigenerational speculations had first been studied by Murray Bowen. In the 1950s grants were being awarded to research family interactions, communication, and multigenerational patterns, which were thought to contribute to mental illness. Bowen studied schizophrenic patients at the National Institute of Mental Health from 1954-1959 (Bowen, 1985). During that time span entire families lived in the institute with the patient. Daily, nonreactive observation began to provide consensus among the reports regarding the relationship patterns in these families. This quickly was generalized to observations and findings among the lesser ill and normal people. It was, then, in the early 1960s that Bowen concentrated his study on multiple generations by collecting case notes on at least three generations. His most detailed case involved a case study dating back 300 years. The first theory paper was published in 1966 that identified the six interlocking concepts that he concluded were essential to understanding individual behavior and family functioning. One such concept was that of emotional fusion and the subsequent projection process. Bowen believed that in the throes of

PAGE 36

25 intense anxiety, triangles and a family projection process emerge, thus creating dysfunctional patterns that interfere with successful interpersonal interaction and healthy individuation. Some subsequent studies of schizophrenia conducted by other researchers supported Bowen's ideas. Cited by Kety and Rosenthal (1968) was the classic study of children of schizophrenic mothers. The study involved children who were raised by biological parents contrasted with children raised by adoptive parents to reveal evidence that the illness was innate and organic. However, Wynne and Singer reexamined the same parents using the Rorschach to determine communication deviance. Parents with no evidence of schizhophrenia were included in the study to determine if the examiners could determine to which parental set the schizophrenic "child" belonged. The report claimed a 100% accuracy in identification, and the adoptive parents' deviant communication was greater than the biological parents' deviant communication. Similarly, Lidz, Fleck, and Comelison (1965) observed parent to child interactions with the schizophrenic offspring. These parents were observed as unresponsive to both the child's nurturance needs and personality development needs. The child was related to as if to

PAGE 37

26 extend or complete the life of at least one parent. These studies represent the very limited amount of work that has been done, and only within the last 18 years, to determine what, if any, changes occur as a family moves through the generations and why. It remains difficult to find sufficient data to determine if change and its causes are identifiable and predictable. Lewis (1989) cites three theoretical positions about the process of family change. The first proposes that stability outweighs change, citing Raush in indicating that patterns of conflict-resolution do not change much in a family over time. The second position stems from the works of Reiss and Anthony, indicating that if one knows the nature of the structure, for example, over rigidity or enmeshment, then one can predict what may happen during situational and developmental stress. It banks on the type of structural pattern an individual takes into his/her relationships for communication and problem solving. The third position is that a family is often bombarded by unpredictable crises, causing the ineffectiveness of the usual family homeostatic patterns. It is in these gaps that creative changes may occur. More research is needed to validate or dispute any of these theories further. The reality of research, according to Lewis, is that a

PAGE 38

27 very limited amount of study has been focused on individual development, as in Vaillant's work; less still has been done on how early family development affects later life relationships. In this vein Benson, Larson, Wilson, and Demo (1993) attempted to base research on Bowen's concepts to show that elements of a close relationship are transmitted to the next generation. Subjects were 433 males and 544 females between 17 and 21 who were never married. Regression analyses were used to analyze the scores from the Personal Authority in the Family System Questionaire, the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and a relationship communication scale constructed by the researchers. There was strong evidence to support that fusion in the family of origin manifested as anxiety as a trait in the individual. This anxiety in the individual led to poor communication and, then, dysfunctional communication in romantic attempts. In summary, although there have been a number of attempts to relate children's and young unmarried adults' functioning to family of origin interactive processes, there has been limited attention given to how family of origin interactive processes might affect men's relational competence.

PAGE 39

28 Need for the Study Although there is much public attention now being turned to the state of men's difficulties and deficiencies in intimate relating, our present state of knowledge as to what conditions lead to men's relational difficulties is relatively sparse. We know very little as to whether there are predictable differences in how men who vary in their level of intimate relationship satisfaction describe their early socialization or current relational functioning. We know even less about whether these current ways of relating are more strongly associated with differing styles of interaction/functioning in their families of origin as a whole. Given that family systems theory posits that how one's family of origin functioned is critical to the development of one's own ways of relating in current relationships, this theoretical perspective seems extremely relevant to understanding the experience of men who report relationship difficulties. Not only would greater information as to the role of family of origin influences on current relationship functioning preferences be useful in understanding how men develop relationship difficulties, it would also be quite useful in designing

PAGE 40

29 more effective clinical interventions for assisting them in resolving such difficulties. Purposes of the Study The purpose of this study is to utilize a transgenerational family systems theory (natural systems theory) as a framework for exploring and attempting to understand the relational functioning of midlife men. According to transgenerational family systems theory, an individual's current ways of functioning intimately with a partner (or a son or daughter) are directly related to his/her interactional experiences in his/her family of origin. Thus, rather than looking only at specific ways of relating experience exclusively between two family members (such as a father and son, or mother and son), the patterns of relating in which three or more people participate are the organizing focus. As a result, how men report their mother and father relating to each other, as well as how they report relating to their mother or father in the context of their relationship with the other parent, is assumed to influence both their current style of interacting with an intimate partner and their relative satisfaction with that relationship.

PAGE 41

30 Given the relative lack of knowledge about how early relational experiences may affect men's current relational functioning and the potential of family systems theory to serve as a vehicle for exploring this question, the purposes of this study are threefold. First, the author proposes to compare the perceptions of family of origin functioning and current relationship functioning of two groups of midlife men: (a) men who report low levels of satisfaction with their intimate relationships and (b) men who report high levels of satisfaction with their intimate relationships. Second, the association between current relational functioning and family of origin functioning will be examined. Third, the author will investigate the association between current relational satisfaction, family of origin functioning, and father-son relational functioning. The two groups of men were further delineated into subgroups of Black and White men and higher and lower socioeconomic level. Research Questions The following research questions were posed in this study: 1. After controlling for race and socioeconomic status, do midlife men differing in their level of satisfaction with their current intimate relationship report differing patterns of family of origin

PAGE 42

31 functioning? Is there an association between these levels of satisfaction and levels of family of origin functioning? 2. After controlling for race and socioeconomic status do midlife men differing in their level of satisfaction with their current intimate relationship report differing patterns of current relationship functioning? Is there an association between these levels of satisfaction and levels of current relationship functioning? 3. Is there an association between the level of current relationship satisfaction and the level of couple functional interaction? 4. Is there a significant relationship between the functional levels of couple interaction and levels of couple relational processes, levels of father-son family of origin processes, and levels of intergenerational fusion and personal authority? Definition of Terms The following terms are used throughout this study. Intimacy is defined by Nagy (1987) drawing from object relations understanding to talk about how individuals connect with the persons and things in the world. There is attachment (e.g., dependence on mother early in life), separation (moving from an

PAGE 43

32 object toward other parts [objects] of one's world), and the experiencing of anxiety and grief over the separation which leads to a sense of valuing the object. Inequities, broken loyalties, and unresolved grief account for distress and dysfunction. Intimacy within Nagy's framework is a focus on the "context" maintaining function or dysfunction. The Personal Authority in the Family System Questionaire manual (Bray, Williamson, and Malone, 1984) further defines intimacy as "voluntary closeness with distinct boundaries to the self (with dimensions of) trust, love-fondness, self-disclosure, and commitment" (p. 169). Individuation is Nagy's (1973) term for the successfully functioning self in a context in which the self is both experienced as separate and connected. He draws from existential thought to depict this as the human organism having the ability to know and promote the self as a separate entity, while simultaneously staying in relationship. This "staying in relationship" is, first of all, a given as human beings are "ontologically" connected and dependent on others in that manner. The self is solidified by the sustaining of one's

PAGE 44

33 separateness while showing the utmost respect for the "other" and an openness to further understanding the unknownness in the other. Differentiation is Murray Bowen's (Kerr & Bowen, 1988) term for individuation, and it brings a "process" definition. The interaction goal would be to grow toward a process of self clarity which rests on a well thought out and determined direction for one's life. Looking at one's history (multigenerational as well) to come to grips with the rules, postures and movements that have perpetuated undifferentiation is a part of the process toward the solid self and away from the pseudo self. Fusion is low self differentiation depicted as a life driven by emotional reactivity resulting from lack of emotional separation from the family of origin (Kerr and Bowen, 1988). This over emotional attachment finds expression throughout one's life via projections and triangles thereby perpetuating an undifferentiated self and setting the patterns and postures for low self differentiation of one's children. This is made possible by the human tendency to marry at the same or lower level of self differentiation. Triangulation is defined as a human dyad so unstable that when stress increases and intensity develops a third person is

PAGE 45

34 brought into it (Gilbert, 1992). Dysfunctional processes have to do with repetitions of patterns and parameters of the functioning of the self and others over time. The process behind the anxiety was seen by Bowen to fall into one or more of five relationship patterns: conflict, distance, emotional cutoff, dysfunction in one spouse, and dysfunction in a child. Patterns form to solve relationship anxiety while emotional immaturity remains unchanged. When tension relief is so often via a dysfunctional pattern it eventually interferes with phases of normal individual and family development. Valences are ascribed and/or assumed allowing emotional, unfinished baggage to go with the individual beyond the family of origin into the adult intimacy attempts but doomed by the cloud of the valence (for example, always the villain or the victim, the bastard or the bitch, the hero or the failure, the close, intimate one or the distant one unable to be vulnerable, expressive and connected) (Brown, 1991). In this theory men are often observed to be the distancers except when distancing fails and excessive anxiety develops. In this state of distress men often temporarily pursue and are perhaps prone to harshness and even violence. Spouses and children would then receive projected emotional baggage rather than the sharedness of

PAGE 46

35 an individual within a mutually respectful context which can be called intimacy. Partner relations hip satisfaction is one's quick, attitudinal impression of the relationship (Roach, Frazier, & Bowden, 1981). It captures a spontaneous opinion rather than studious, in-depth investigation. Intimidation and self authority are opposite poles of the same construct defined by Bray, Williamson, and Malone (1984) as the ability to sustain a clear level of individuation while still relating intimately with a parent. Intimidation would assume fixation to the past and a continuation of the parental hierarchy boundary. This would find the adult child and parent unable to relate as adult, equal persons. Self authority implies having clear self opinions, values, and control of one's own destiny while staying connected to one's significant emotional systems, including current family and family of origin. Cohesion is the degree of "emotional bonding, supportiveness, family boundaries, shared time and friends, and shared activities" (Olson, Portner, & Bell, 1982).

PAGE 47

36 Adaptability is a measurement of "leadership, discipline, child control, roles, and rules" (Olson, Portner, & Bell, 1982). Racial difference refers to African-Americans, selected because they represent the largest minority group in the United States. The group makes up over 12% of the population and has a long history of sociological comparison studies with Caucasian-Americans (Rothman, 1993). Socioeco nomic status in this study, refers to individuals with an annual household income of above $35,000 and individuals with an annual household income of below $35,000. This determination is based upon $35,000 being the average income in the chosen population. Organizati on of the Studv The remainder of the study consists of four chapters. Chapter 2 is a review of the related literature presented in five sections to reveal the evolution of understanding the effect of the relational processes of multiple generations. Chapter 3 contains a discussion of methodology and includes research design, delineation of variables, population, sampling procedures, instrumentation, data collection procedures, hypotheses, data analytic procedures, and limitations.

PAGE 48

37 Chapter 4 organizes the results of the study. Chapter 5 presents a discussion of the results, limitations, and indications of any need for further study.

PAGE 49

CHAPTER 2 REVffiW OF RELATED LITERATURE This discussion of literature is presented in five sections: (a) the psychoanalytic view of family influence, (b) the male's family role in psychoanalytic thinking, (c) the tasks of parents in psychoanalytic thinking, (d) transgenerational dysfunction: a bridge to multigenerational thinking, and (e) multigenerational patterns. The Psvchoanalvtic View of Family Influence The psychoanalytic notion of family stability and influence emphasizes bonding between mother and child. The stress is upon necessary nurturance by mother within an obligatory relationship. Father's role is seen as peripheral emotionally, only important for financial support, protection, and executive enforcement of family rules. Yet, when one examines the historical psychological literature, there exists a number of references to the vital importance of the male, especially in the identity development of a boy. Primary sourcework is often credited to Margaret Mahler and the description of the process of rapprochement (Lax, Back & Burland, eds,, 1980). Rapprochement refers to the process of 38

PAGE 50

39 separation and individuation that occurs following the necessary bonding in infancy. The implication is that we have roots with groundedness, attachment, and bonding out of which we venture into newer and newer forms of our own civilization process. Mother is deemed necessary as the stable nurturer who, after symbiosis, continues on as a powerful resource to the child. Mother contains and sustains the child during regressive episodes and allows freedom to do appropriate developmental tasks and actively affect the world. Mahler believed that the child needed sufficient confidence in a loving mother to be able to renounce her omnipotence (Mahler, 1979). This, then, created an anxious environment finding the child fearing loss of "mother object" love both when receiving approval or disapproval and pressures to become aware of and control body functions. Kernberg, when describing the first phase of life, depicted the first relationship as a fusion of self and mother object (Lax, Back & Burland, eds., 1980). As the child naturally begins to differentiate there is an inner turmoil. On the one hand the child defensively refuses to see and experience self or mother as separate. On the other hand the child feels inner tugs of aggression and exploration in

PAGE 51

40 which he/she wishes to deny his/her intense connectedness with mother. It is here that the child can first declare elements of the world or the self as seeming to be polarized (good/bad). Mahler (1979) refers to pathology which can emerge if mother does not present herself as a constant object. If mother clings excessively the child may fixate or regress thus creating the foundations for psychotic identifications. If mother is not appropriately comfortable with holding and letting go; the child may introject such, and while functioning may be adequate, the child may enter adulthood with excessive longing for holding and being held. If extreme or bizarre responses are given the child when holding or separation is desired, the child may experience splitting, (that is, a compartmentalizing of parts of the self that do not coincide with reality expectations which results in perceptions of self and others which are distorted and undependable). Mahler believed this laid the foundation for the borderline personality. Crisis, then, for the junior toddler, is in realizing that his/her love objects are separate from himself/herself. According to Mahler, if there is an adequate resolution of this crisis, object constancy occurs regarding self and others. If not, then object

PAGE 52

41 relations theorists believe the precursors for neuroses and character disorders are established, Abelin, in an attempt to clarify and expand on Mahler's thinking (Lax, Back & Burland, eds., 1980), utilized the phenomenon of "triangulation." This actively brought in a reference to father in identity development and social stability. Mahler referred to father as an "uncontaminated mother substitute." Mother, in the symbiotic dance, becomes contaminated by the intensities of longing and frustration. Mahler saw father coming into the dynamic to attend to the contamination and resolve the ambivalence. When differentiation is occurring between mother and child the father enters the child's world as if from "outer space." Abelin described that father enters ". as something gloriously new and exciting, at just the time when the toddler is experiencing a feverish quest for expansion ... a 'knight in shining armor'" (p. 152). But more than just a dazzling addition, Abelin described the triangulation process as the child's emerging ability to internalize relational dynamics. Therefore, taking into the self a concept of father and mother relating becomes an active part of the child's civilization process. The child needs, developmentally, to know that the intense

PAGE 53

42 desirability he/she wishes to retain for himself/herself is of his/her own origination. Abelin stressed that this awareness is only possible as the child witnesses the parents together and imitates what is witnessed. The child sees his/her one desired object desiring his/her other object. This provides an ultimate reality stress out of which the child can choose to construct a "rival wish." In this process the frames of movement are frozen and the child imagines being like the rival. At first this is primal, the child only seeing father holding mother and vice versa, but 2-3 years later the child is able to image spatially. At that time the child can either identify with or temporarily attach to the other object as experimentation with separation is occurring with the primary object. As such, Abelin noted, father must be cathected (that is, the child must have already invested psychic energy into father as a constant object). Mahler persisted in emphasizing that mother will still be turned to for comfort and father will be taken in more as exuberance (Mahler, 1979); however, she noted that as the boy early on identifies with father he forms his gender identity. The more there is stable attachment to father, the better able the boy is to deal with his anxiety over disidentifying with his mother. Mahler saw the

PAGE 54

43 precariousness in this as she was aware of fathers often being less accessible than mothers. Biller (1970) saw the absence of father during the first two years of life to be excessively more detrimental to boys than to girls. He believed it left boys with a "feminine core gender identity" and would find manifestation later on in life in the form of masculine overcompensation or opposite stereotypes of less aggression, less competition, and more dependence. The emphasis here is that only boys, not girls, "disidentify" with mother. The boy's core self image comes from a full identification with father. According to this theory the foundation would be laid for longing for a different kind of object that would no longer be just a mirroring of self (i.e., the quest for companionship with the opposite sex). In the Oedipal stage girls form attachments with their fathers, but boys are replicating what has already occurred earlier at a more primitive level. Abelin (Abelin in Lax, Back and Burland, 1980) explains: ". only in man is the father internalized into psychic structure. To be more precise, it is the truth of the father-mother relationship that is internalized, the truth about one's origin, the forbidden fruit of knowledge. In sexual triangulation, the self is engendered by father and mother and with

PAGE 55

44 it the explosion of symbolic thought. This indeed is an important step toward the psychological birth of the human infant" (p. 166). Masterson (Masterson, 1985), in his descriptions about formations of the borderline personality, brings us, again, to an emphasis on the importance of a stable, consistent, appropriate early environment. The infant first takes in the nurturer libidinally with spatial imaging coming later. At such a primitive level the child is extraordinarily vulnerable to availability and withdrawal. He described: ". .if her (mother's) confidence in herself as a mother is shaky, then the individuating child has to do without a reliable frame of reference for checking back, perceptually and emotionally, to the symbiotic partner. .the result will then be a disturbance in the primitive 'self feeling'" (p. 167). Bowlby's (1973) writing about loss dynamics in separation is helpful in bringing together some of the theorists into a focus about early life adequacies and inadequacies. It was in hospitals and similar settings that Bowlby researched the dynamics of the absent mother. The simple absence itself would produce observable feeling states in the child, especially sadness, anxiety, and anger. If absence was abrupt or occurred during high stress, the child's response to

PAGE 56

45 separating from the mother would manifest itself in intense protest followed by despair leading to detachment. Strange people and environments attempting to help usually exacerbated the symptoms. Bowlby referred to Melanie Klein's thinking that the child from birth on experiences the world as "persecutory." The child is attempting to progress in an attempt to lessen the sense of helplessness against, first, the destruction from without and, then, the fear of destruction within. Spitz (Bowlby, 1973) believed that in the early months separation as loss was a "narcissistic trauma" and as severe for the child as losing an actual physical part of the body. Sullivan (Bowlby 1973) believed that severe anxiety was learned. During daily living the nurturer is in an anxious state. If, in this anxious state, the nurturer erratically approves and disapproves, the results could be an induction of neurotic anxiety making the adjustment processes of the child distorted and excessive. Bowlby saw the child as vulnerable and easily lonely. He believed the child had an inherent need for contact with others. He found evidence of such in the animal world where animals would warm and attach to varieties of, but "particular" others of their species. Likewise, Bowlby observed children finding comfort and identity security in attachment with

PAGE 57

46 more than one familiar, loved individual. This warmth and consistency would provide an environment for secure attachment, experimental separation, and mourning that would set the stage for patterns of attachment versus separation, closeness versus distance, and gains versus losses throughout the rest of life. Writers in American society's most popular magazines, while offering much advice and solutions, seem to expose us as a people who still wish to embrace this concept of early childhood in the family. Even with the expanding of day care and two-career parenting, articles keep multiplying emphasizing the developmental need for constancy and consistency of the primary nurturer and the gradual but consistent introduction of additional persons who will become familiar, loved figures. These are clearly substitutes for mother, but there is reason to believe from the literature that father is primary and not just a substitute. The Male's Familv Role in Psvchoanalvtic Thinking In his book Finding our Fathers: The Unfinished Business of Manhood Osherson (1986) referred to a lack of readily available historical writings about fathers as a major neglected aspect of our culture. He cited that when persons have set out to explore families

PAGE 58

47 of famous people they have discovered many signs of the effect of fathers on the futures of their children, both as a close, positive influence and in terms of distance or alienation. The premise of Osherson and writers like him is that we are facing a current societal dilemma which is hard to reconcile Men are still stereotyped as detached, non-feeling breadwinners, while the publicized desire in society is to have two career marriages with both parents as caretakers of the children and the home. Contemporary wives desire husbands to be emotionally aware and responsive beyond courtship. According to Osherson, the tendency in our society is for a man to return to being aloof and isolated after marriage and depend upon his wife to care for the children and interpret for him what family is. James Carroll stated that "the curse of fatherhood is distance, and good fathers spend their lives trying to overcome it" (Osherson, 1986, p. 30). In current writings about the male struggle, focus is placed again on the boy's early childhood (Osherson, 1986). According to psychoanalytic theorists early in life there is full union with mother as a physical phenomenon that usually has the mother experiencing bonding with the newborn as a reframing and continuation of prenatal attachment. Boys are seen as having

PAGE 59

48 identity development issues different from girls. They need stability with mother, yet there is the gradual need to "separate and renounce mother" as a part of gender identity development. Their successful growth is assumed to be dependent upon the extent to which attachment is made to father rather than just separation from mother. Psychoanalytic theorists view the anxiety around this time as much more than simple adjustment anxiety; it is a loss without guaranteed gain experience. The primitive question for the boy is "Can I exist without mother or as different from her?" If father is absent or detached the boy may seek resolution to male formation by simple distancing from and aloofness with mother and, later in his life, other women. He may have the success of attaching to father, and the advantage of this depends largely upon the comfortableness of father to represent a wide variety of thoughts and feelings to his son. If father is a part of the family yet rigid or inaccessible, the son may be prone to resolve gender formation by embracing machoism which he may later employ to devalue all that is feminine. This will not only deprive him from a huge repertoire of feelings and emotional expressions, but will have him burdened with image and performance. In this bind Osherson and other psychoanalytic

PAGE 60

49 thinkers believe the man will be inclined to retain a hostile yet dependent posture with women. If the young boy is not able to attach to father or a male substitute, he is subject to "infantilism and parentification" (Osherson, 1986), being seen in the family as the needy child or set up to perform as mother's "little man." Osherson went on to describe that life is filled with experiences that leave men feeling needy and helpless. If a man has a boyhood background that placed him antithetical to such a philosophy or held responsible for solving the stress of such for his parent, he will re-experience feeling like a needy child, an over-burdened/over-responsible provider/protector, or both. This is further confounded by the sustained illusion that women can and should take care of men. This correlates with Mahler's observation that infants and young children do have an extraordinary capacity to get libidinal supplies from many available sources (Mahler, 1979). The ability of a young boy to make such coping adjustments rather than obtain the needed nurturance from and attachment to father makes him a survivor, but not a stable, flexible, responding individual.

PAGE 61

50 Ivan Borzormenyi-Nagy ( Van Heusden and Eerenbeemt. 1987'> conceptualized family as based on ontic loyalty. By virtue of "being" and being on the same contained planet all humans are "being" or ontologically connected. Philosophies rest on this premise with humans held accountable in their very existence for responding caringly and promoting a congenial future. Nagy believed that, like joining humanity, when we are born we are born into an existing legacy. This legacy is formed from two streams of influence the mother's side of the family and the father's side of the family. Without balance there is a lack of full definition of who we actually are. Without balance we miss out on 50% of the resources for life that can come to us by virtue of our lineage. Via their connectedness with their children, mothers automatically open up their lineage, with all its assets and biases, to their children. When a father embraces fatherhood, taking upon himself the responsibilities and consequences of being an involved parent, his child becomes appropriately indebted to not only a relational person, but to many generations of knowledge and influence to blend alongside that of mother's.

PAGE 62

51 Nagy saw the child's loyalty ties as undeniable and irreversible. It was not just a feeling, but, rather, "grounded in an origin of existential, asymmetrical ties between parent and child" (Van Heusden and Eerenbeemt, 1987, p. 17). This sense of loyalty becomes a primary force in the formation of the individual. Nagy believed that the individual must "render an account of the existence of loyalty bonds" and integrate this rendering into the individual's own unique life design. If there is a backdrop of excessive off balancedness between mother and father in home responsibilities and if a schism emerges between mother and father, Nagy believed the child will take on an endeavor to rejoin the parents, will never give up, and, as such fails, the child will accumulate multiple symptoms both as ploys and as results. In its opposite form, if mother and father practice mutual respect and a balance of "merits" and "obligations," the impact and the model will promote the child toward adult mutual peer relations in friendships and in marriage, Male relationships have gotten the attention of psychoanalytic feminist writers in the promotion of equality and the balancing of life tasks. In The Reproduction of Mothering. Nancy Chodorow (1978) reminded us that when the father is present and active the

PAGE 63

52 child knows father from the beginning and takes father in as significant. As with mother, father will be experienced in the child's frustrations as having interests of his own, the contrast only able to impact if father is consistently present. The child, according to Chodorow, benefits in several ways. First, the child develops more ability to embrace ambivalence and flexibility rather than rigidity and polarity. Second, the child enjoys the advantage of having a reality base in the world which fathers represent. Third, the child enjoys having another attachment figure which lessens anxiety when mother is absent and, then, when father is absent. Finally, when father is seen as intervening into the mother/child relationship, it orients the child to the fuller nature of culture and society. Chodorow believed that both genders, if given opportunity and skill enabling, have a desire to "recreate mothering" (Chodorow, 1978). The primary foundation for parenting is having been parented oneself. Chodorow argued that, if this is true, males have been enculturated to exclude parenting tasks. She speculated that this split was reinforced by a capitalistic work world especially reinforced throughout the industrial growth years. She argued that in our current world which is focusing more on communications.

PAGE 64

53 information, and relational activity, it is becoming cumbersome to have such exclusive roles for men. She also argued that in crosscultural studies the more the fathers are absent and uninvolved; the more conflict in the family, the greater the confusion and fear about gender identity and intimacy with women, and the greater an indication of poorly developed relational and managerial skills for the workplace (Chodorow, 1978). The premise put forth by Osherson (1986) in his book Finding our Fathe rs: The Unfinished Business of Manhood, is that we have ingrained, old images of fathers as stoic men of silence serving mostly as breadwinners. This persists even now when the desired life pattern has changed to one of the two-career marriage, close involvement with the children and family ventures, and greater emotional availability to the spouse. Osherson proposed that women have been, and still are, guided into parenting both physiologically and sociologically, while men enter this modern era with the task expectation of involvement but with no guidelines. This leaves a man needing to become bonded with the new baby while he is also affected by less time with his wife, having to leave the home scene to go to work, pressured more than ever to build work stability to

PAGE 65

54 support this new family, and more apt than ever in his life to feel lonely and insecure. The father, despite these pressures, must spend time alone with the new baby to become engrossed in a manner which builds fascination and bonding. He will, at the same time, be confronted by his own neediness and the remnants of his own parented experience. Osherson stated that the father's goal is to be "an empathic figure who attends to the emotional needs of the situation, who can provide by taking care of the human needs of others, not just through his paycheck" (p. 187). He contended that for most men this will be a painful process as it both confronts repressed emotions and goes contrary to male programming. Osherson suggested that much healing and growth can occur as the father persists in coming home daily to "screaming kids and cursing wife" to "take a deep breath," pick up the child, and bring a new dimension of soothing into the picture. In this act all the woundedness of the father's images of his father emerge but get attended to. As such it is acknowledged that men, when they have been excluded from active fathering, have been deprived of the positive growth that may only be able to occur in the attachment dynamics and the experiential relationship with his child.

PAGE 66

55 Despite the positive picture some authors paint of fathering and the pressure to be an active father, there is indication that this attempt may be hampered by some wives/mothers as it is attempted. Osherson also noted that the wife may have repressed needs for a father wherein she is holding out for the traditional notions of security. This may actually promote estrangement in the husband and his signs of nurture may be either diminished or tagged as feminine and shameful (Osherson, 1986). If the new father is attempting tasks which are new to his nature, there is frequently a pressure from his wife to do the tasks like she does them and/or to be her delegate under her control (Meth & Pasick, 1990). Feldman (Meth & Pasick, 1990) spoke of disappointed fathering attempts as intrapsychic and interpersonal barriers inadvertently promoted by wife/mother. The most threatening is ambivalence by the mother in sharing the childcare and nurturance with the father. This unconsciously reminds the father of the push away by his own mother and may surface hostility at a time when sensitivity is so important to his wife. This confounds his already developed fear of failure, and if he perceives his father of origin as detached he may very well choose such as his ego defense. The father, therefore.

PAGE 67

56 enters this scene with uncertainty, and likely rigidity, at a time when flexibility is most needed. When ambivalent wife/mother shows criticism and defense instead of invitation and generosity, the stage is often set for an inadequate father of origin pattern to be replayed. Despite this picture, Osherson (1986) was still optimistic. He identified "real life competencies" as empathy skills which develop out of struggling with one's own vulnerability and deprivation. The child will inevitably become the trigger, but growth and competence can occur if the father finds appropriate ways to vent feelings, release resentments, and attend to his own needs. It will be out of this facing of pain and self care that he can not only nurture his child but also attend intimately to his wife. The man's task, then, is to see the wife's biological advantage as contributing to his feeling of distance, but not having to result in alienation. Osherson stressed, then, that if the man, in the facing of his struggle, cares for himself, holds and bonds with his infant (which implies that he can experience setting the child's centrality over his own), and cares for his wife who has become a mother, then he stands a good chance of experiencing fatherhood as pride and a phenomenon of intentionality which can become a part of his lineage.

PAGE 68

57 In their book, Men in Therapy. Meth and Pasick (1990) depicted the men who seek therapeutic help as desirous of an active, nurturing involvement, but persistently plagued by anxiety and insecurity. In reference to the developmental literature, it was argued that boys experience attachment and separation in many more "unpredictable, discontinuous shifts" than girls. Boys, in order to achieve gender stability, struggle over against mother. Connectedness with mother is ambivalent while detachment is frightening. When there is no ready attachment available to father the resultant anxiety continues forth into adulthood, leaving men in a state of flux between feeling close and distant with females. If the male model was not accessible, then the man may also have assimilated a sense of masculinity as simply different from the kinds of things he sees women to be about. Levinson (1978) believed that most men defined masculinity as "power, control, toughness, ambition." O'Neal (Meth & Pesick, 1990) described most men as subject to role strains, such as emotionally restricted, homophobic, locked into competition, control and power by society, restricted sexually/sensually, obsessed with success and fear of failure, and threatened by health problems which are either stress induced or

PAGE 69

exacerbated by stress patterns. Pleck (Meth and Pasick, 1990) added to this in his reference to "male sex role identity" (MSRI) and "sex role strain" (SRS). The first is what men believe society requires them to think and do. The latter is the difficulty when there is discrepancy with what a man more spontaneously wishes to do in a situation. An example of this is when a man is challenged to manifest cooperation, empathy and trust but is still heavily constricted by outdated, yet powerful, traits, such as rigid rules, excessive competition, and a requirement to keep score. This takes the form of an old pattern in the industrial age workplace of "win at all cost" and places it in an arena in which it will lose and alienate rather then elicit praise and respect. This old pattern was promoted and reinforced by the mother as the sole nurturing parent. In such an arrangement Pleck believed the boy must resist mother in order to develop, yet if without a father he would still need her excessively. He then would emerge prone to repeatedly prove his masculinity by renouncing the support of a woman and her nurturant values to only be obsessed with winning the support of another. Pleck argued that men are expected to either enter a cycle of over-attachment/conflict within the marriage or in a pattern of

PAGE 70

59 disloyalty via distancing and affairs. When one's father is inaccessible the boy does not simply experience a sacrifice of healthy nurturance from his mother, but he embarks into a life of giving up nurturing altogether. Even in the psychoanalytic way of thinking, mothers alone cannot break this cycle in the parenting of their sons. Fleck's notion of these sons was that they will emerge to be the kinds of men and fathers their fathers taught them to be because it is the father who defines for the son what masculinity is. The son will respect this teaching whether it came in an active or passive form and whether it is conducive to contemporary needs in family relationships or seen as dysfunctional. He will have simply become who he is, left with a destiny to play out family like father or to do the hard work of facing and dealing with his role strains. Pleck (Meth and Pasick, 1990) described the young son needing independence. When his father is unavailable for his wife as well as for his son, his mother's spousal needs gone unmet will have her resisting his independence. He turns anew toward father for internal resolvement. When he sees father as detached and unavailable for both himself and mother/wife he concludes that he is right in interpreting mother's nurturance as

PAGE 71

60 something to be renounced. But left with no nurturance the boy has to repeatedly renege on his pronouncement of separation. This will leave him ambivalent later in life in accepting the intimacy and support of one woman and dubious about his ability to be an active, successful father. This connects with Mahler's (1979b) view on father's part in symbiosis. If there is a high degree of attachment between father and infant as well as mother and infant "... when the infant enters the stage of separation-individuation, each parent provides a secure base from which the infant can explore his world and to which the infant can return when he needs a temporary regression" (p. 155). Men, in psychoanalytic thought, then, along with their children's mother, must be empathically attuned to their children's needs for dependence and autonomy in the early years and throughout the several stages of identity development into adulthood. The Tasks of Parenting in Analvtic Thinking There are certain fundamental rights that our society agrees are inherent for children. This is reflected in any urban community's social work system. Child protection teams attempt to guarantee that a child is provided food, clothing, shelter, and safety. Added to this

PAGE 72

61 is an attempt to prevent neglect that, in addition to these basic provisions, insures that a child is not left unattended by adult custodians. When it comes to emotional abuse and neglect the definitions become more difficult and the proof even harder. The communities continue to offer parenting skills classes which teach that parenting is an involved, proactive endeavor requiring skills, a level of maturity, a practical theory of some sort, and ways of both assessing progress and accounting to partner, extended family, and society. The following section summarizes Nagy's contextual theory which is grounded in object relations theory (and the similar analytic theorizing of Bettelheim) to approach the task of defining what children need and deserve. Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy (Nagy and Spark, 1973) in Invisible Loyalties described the need for a child to have a "life space" of his/her own. Within this space the child is able to explore and thrive without undue contamination from the parents. The parents would, ideally, be mature enough and intentional enough at the time of conception to have a plan for providing a nurturing climate and promoting a next generation. This means that the child deserves a deliberateness on the part of parents to see that attachment and

PAGE 73

62 guidance occur. Such deliberateness would be based on the need, age, and situational appropriateness of the child and not the parents' projections. Nagy noted, however, that when individuals become parents themselves they carry into that arena a residue of their past with its elements of injustice, abandonment, and exploitation. If the parents' own unfinished business with their generational development is not faced and fully owned by them, they are likely to end up treating their child in a way that produces the same or worse results. When adults have not adequately worked through their own emotional separation with their parents they tend to ascribe inappropriate roles to their children. They may parentify a child in which the child who needs their approval and care may, instead, be promoted to take care of a parent so that a role reversal occurs. The child would receive only secondary gains. Similarly, a child may become subject to a parental projection process wherein scapegoating or infantilizing occurs. This often finds the child in a double bind, bound to the emotional field with the parents but unable to receive the approval and love necessary for progressing through life's developmental stages. Equally destructive is Nagy's description of a context of split loyalties. It is in this arena that an emotional and

PAGE 74

63 sometimes physical division exists between fattier and mother. The child by nature will attempt "rejunctive action." According to Nagy, unless the parents can take initiative to demolish this splitness, the child will develop multiple symptoms to attempt to solve the splitness. Nagy believed that the realities of these responsibilities and effects should weigh heavily upon the parents, hopefully before birth as a child is prepared for. Family ethics, then, become a process of fairness in which a balance of give and take is continually weighed and the parental projection process bracketed and remedied. Popular among analytic circles is Bruno Bettelheim's A Good Enough P arent A Book on Child Rearing (Bettelheim, 1987). Bettelheim drew his title and some of his theoretical base from Winnicott's "good enough mother" which is meant to mean that the child is being raised by parents who feel secure in their parenthood. It draws from Winnicott's "she (mother) reflects in her face the infant's feelings" (Winnicott, 1965). Bettelheim was not promoting perfection, but a family in which the young adult can look back and say he/she was raised well. It does imply that family intimacies were maintained, that intimacies with friends and extended family

PAGE 75

64 fostered, and life and developmental hardships were approached in a way that the child was left feeling more secure than uncertain. Bettelheim did not embrace rules, but, instead, held out for a parent/child process of living and relating together. He did indicate that the parent and child can become "neurotically bound" to predictable reactions to each other to such an extent that it dooms all efforts at appropriate warmth and intimacy. The premise is that the parents hopefully are well adjusted enough to recognize that it is the sensitive child who struggles for mastery over each element of each new stage of development, and it is the parents' responsibility to see that he/she avoids excessive "woundedness," for that woundedness sets the stage for all that comes later. This implies later child developmental stage difficulties, but it also implies a limitedness relationally in the adult world. Bettelheim set forth thirteen elements of "good enough" parenting which directly speak to the question about needs and rights of children. These elements are guideposts in the psychoanalytic view of the parent-child relational process: (1) "Being" is emphasized instead of doing or performing. A parent is not to expect to perform better as a parent, but to "be" a

PAGE 76

65 good parent. One way to insure this is to remember the same principle for the child, that is, to value at all times the child's "being" and to promote that children "live well and enjoy their lives." What usually gets in the way of this is when parents over-identify with their children. Bettelheim insisted that a child must be "free of parents in their struggle." (2) The parent needs to be a "real person," as opposed to being aloof or mechanical with the child. A child needs to access a full person who is emotionally available and not just rational. The child's developing/ uncertain identity depends greatly upon the parent's ability to contain and manage anxiety. Bettelheim referred to Harry Stack Sullivan's finding that the anxiety of a parent induces anxiety in the child and can be kept going, including accompanying ill behavior, by the parent's anxiety state and behavioral interaction with the child (Bettelheim, 1987). (3) The parent's "self needs to stay as a backdrop and parental expectations must give way to free development of the child. This is the concept of parental ability to bracket the parent's centrality for the centrality of the young child. This finds a parent consistently checking self motives and balancing insensitivity and oversensitivity.

PAGE 77

66 It is in this area that fathers are deemed vital. Mother often is the parent who bears the stress of excessive demands on her time and energy which can erupt into exaggerated responses, such as overexpectations or underexpectations. Fathers classically distance from this arena, but the need is for fathers to become involved as a balancing element to ground realistic expectations. (4) The child needs for parents to be actively interested and involved daily and not just around crisis or tense situations. The prime example of this is the family that becomes attentive only around test scores and school performance. This communicates to the child that there is little interest in him/her as a person. (5) It is the parent's task to civilize the child and orient the child to humanity. This need addresses "empathy" that requires the parent to frequently remember his/her own childhood. Out of such a process comes the parenting question: "For whose benefit (do) we really act, our own or that of the child, (and are we) influenced by concern about the reaction of others: parents, friends, neighbors?" (Bettelheim, 1987, p. 75). (6) Inquiries into the child's feelings or behaviors need to be done by avoiding the usage of "why." "Why" implies negativity or an

PAGE 78

67 already established assumption. "I don't know" must be accepted as a basic ingredient of initial dialogue in a safe, parental holding environment. (7) All parental discipline sets examples for the child. If a goal is to promote self respect, self confidence, and instill a conscience which disciplines the self, then punitive, chastizing practices are questionable. As problems between parent and child are grappled with, patience and self control on the part of the parents become more positive character building elements than correction and punishment. (8) In order for the child to embrace the humanness of the parents and incorporate a sense of such in the child's self, the parents' pasts need to be known. The child needs to hear stories which convey lineage, heritage, and pride. (9) "Process" must always remain central; that is, the child is developing, therefore he/she has not arrived at those points of "being in trouble." Bettelheim described this process as "he can do things ... he can do things for himself ... he is a true self this self can do (things) for him" (Bettelheim, 1987, p. 154). He believed that when parents can stay attuned to this process it is easier for them to

PAGE 79

68 retain their contamination and more apt for them to enjoy the social emergence of their child. (10) Play is a vital ingredient in the child's life and remains an important aspect in the adult years. Creativity is fostered that produces multiple usages of language, objects, and space. Fantasy promotes an ability to have a sense of an inner self which is real and available and not the sense of void experienced by so many adults. Success, problem solving, mastery, stimulation, patience, and perseverance are some of the learned and practiced aspects of play which are necessary character tools in modem society. The ability to play lessens stress and boredom. If learned well it becomes accessible by adults in a broad fashion and not just limited to being entertained. Bettelheim pointed out the misunderstanding boys often receive when their play aggresses and manipulates objects. He believed that if parents respond to these dynamics caringly and not just critically boys will emerge just as capable of interactive care as girls (Bettelheim, 1987). This was seen as another area where it is important for the children to have time around chores and activities with father apart from mother.

PAGE 80

69 (11) If the hope is that the child will emerge as an adult who is able and confident, then parents must promote "winning." There is a natural tendency for children to lie and cheat which is directly connected to this need for "winning." The "good enough parent" will help the child save face, retreat, reframe, and reapproach in order to attain and retain a winning attitude. This is not to excuse destructive behavior, but to establish an environment which is always rehabilitative in nature. (12) Bettelheim promoted the Biblical commandment to "honor father and mother" (Bettelheim, 1987). This is not to be misunderstood as a requirement to love or to respect parents when not deserved. It is, rather, when parents live their lives openly in front of their children in a manner in which children are impressed by their efforts and abilities. This was more easily practiced in ancient societies where children could observe the daily tasks of both fathers and mothers. Bettelheim relayed: "(It is the) logical and nearly inescapable result of observing their parents as they attended to the daily routines of work which so clearly served the well-being of the family" (p. 323). Today, parents have to be more intentional

PAGE 81

70 or children will never know the tasks and the complexities of their lives. (13) Bettelheim's last element of "good enough" parenting seems to out-weigh the first twelve. It is that each parent must become connected with the child and stay connected throughout the growing-up years. The principle is that the relationship with a parent must not become a first attempt at intimacy for the child which ends in disappointment. The parental relationship is to exist as a base of acceptance, not an example of a rejecting or persecutory world. Both mother and father play a vital role in this foundation. The work of Murray Bowen in formulating a transgenerational family systems theory (which he termed natural systems theory) is grounded in analytic thought, but greatly expands this thinking by addressing the contribution of family relational interactions to human development. Bowen (Kerr & Bowen, 1988) depicted an environment for the child which is natural and evolving as long as parental conflicts, family projections, parental over involvement, and parental under involvement remain minimal and short of established patterns. Gilbert (1992) interpreted Bowen's ideal parent-child

PAGE 82

71 relationship as: characterized by equality, separateness, and openness. How can a relationship between an adult and a child or infant be a relationship of equals? While they are not equals in strength and skills, a parent can relate to a child as an equal in potential and in basic humanness. The automatic 'doing for' posture that disables the child by playing to his or her weaknesses will be lessened. A cooperative stance with the child will be the norm instead of an overfunctioning or competitive one. This posture will be returned in kind by the child over time (p. 152). In this kind of relationship the parent stays boundary conscious, that is conscious of the invisible boundaries that separate oneself from another. When boundaries are intact and clear in the parent he/she will be capable of much less "automatic reactivity." So if a child becomes anxious, the parent does not automatically become anxious, and if a spouse becomes anxious, the partner does not follow suit. Displacement onto the child may then be lessened. This creates an ideal environment for communication in which the child is left feeling more safe and free to define and express his/her thinking to the parents. In the environment that Gilbert portrayed each family member speaks "for the self and the self only" (Gilbert, 1992). This is an environment where principles can be taught out of patience and

PAGE 83

72 intentionality rather than reactivity and invasion. It speaks out of the parents' life, not out of rigid dictates. It provides dialogue, relationship, and space for the children to feel safe with parents while they develop a different life out of their different life experiences. It is easy to see that if a family establishes such a style in the early years that the potential turmoil of adolescence can have a different definition and, perhaps, outcome. However, the difficulty is in the requirement for parents to spend a major portion of their lives focusing on their own maturity and working toward a higher functioning marital relationship. Gilbert speaks of a "confident interest in the child." What is meant by this is that the child's life problems are the child's to solve. The primary task of the parents is to so contain their individual selves and the anxiety of their relationship that the child does not become the center of their energies or the projective dumping ground of their intrapersonal and interpersonal fragments. "The best (legacy a parent can give children) is that of raising his or her (parents') own level of differentiation as high as possible in a generation. If that is the parental focus, the children will automatically function better" (Gilbert, 1992, p. 155). Differentiation is defined by natural systems

PAGE 84

73 theorists as maintaining a sense of separateness while staying connected with the parental extended family. This allows an individual to clearly and freely bring his/her multi-generational influences into a marital relationship better able to respect that of the partner's and promote understanding and negotiation. It becomes clear with the expansion into Bowenian thought that children do not need to become elements in a child-centered family. Instead, they need a stable, humanizing environment in which the parents are reasonably clear about their self definitions, able to contain their anxieties and expectations, and willing to be persons for their children whom they see as persons. The child needs both parents' involvement and needs to experience parents as his/her first successful intimacy. The work of Murray Bowen suggests a way to predict later life intimacy success by studying the triads as well as the dyads. This takes the father's influence in a son's life into an arena of multiplicity wherein the son is not just affected by father directly, but by all the patterns of father and mother in all their relationships, especially when they displace onto the son.

PAGE 85

74 Transgenerational Dysfunction: A Bridge to Multi generational Thinking The focus of the object relations theories, contextual and intergenerational theories, and transgenerational theories reviewed in earlier sections of this chapter has been that of the parent-child relationship. Although theorists may disagree regarding the extent of the male effect in relationships and in the family, each of these theorists view a father's involvement or detachment as having immediate and lasting effects. Object relations theorists, when focusing on gender identity development, find father's involvement and consistency to be a necessity to normal gender identity solidification. Multi-generational theorists see the inevitability of the male being a defined part of multiple relationships within the family, and his movements and patterns become part of the family's movement along in health and function or repetitions of dysfunction. The male part in dysfunction will now be further discussed. Framo (1972) believed that dysfunction resulted out of irrational role assignments which made it difficult for the child to interact normally and, subsequently, difficult to orchestrate healthy interaction as an adult. Framo identified a beginning list of "tenets" of being human: (a) human beings are fundamentally an object

PAGE 86

75 seeking species, (b) human beings cannot really change objects in reality, so they create internal psychological substitutes, (c) these internal substitutes undergo transformation over the years as people develop new relationships, (d) people use their current relationships as symbolic pawns to heal previous conflicts in the original family, and (e) a person's choice of mate and treatment of children is based on a projective process by which spouses and children become "standins" for past primary object relationships. Framo saw these processes as repeating automatically until a therapeutic resource could be obtained to disrupt the patterns and become a real self. He advocated "going home again" as the only course to take away from interactional pathology (Framo, 1976). In the home visits the individual could claim self positions and dialogue about the family projections in a way that could yield respect and freedom to be one's own generation rather than replay the interaction with former generations. It is in that sort of hard work and struggle that the boy becomes the man, and the man becomes his creative, self defined father role for children whose voices and concerns he hears rather than echoes from his own childhood.

PAGE 87

76 Nagy (Nagy and Spark, 1973) referred to "early developmental frustration overloads" which the child experiences when there is injustice. A child needs a "life space" of his/her own. When that space is invaded consistently by conscious and unconscious projections, and when there is neglect of support and nurturance, a sense of injustice ensues that follows the individual into adult relationships. The world will be experienced as frustrating and approached as owing him/her something. Paradoxically, the individual may not be freed to enjoy what is available. Dynamics such as sexual guilt and inhibition may result which Nagy described as "an undischarged obligation to repay parents, no matter how undeserving" (p. 257). Children in Nagy's thought need to thrive in a world where parents are partners and dialogical rather than rigid and role set. This produces a climate suitable for a "dialectical approach" where real thoughts and feelings can be expressed and processed with relational persons. This allows the intense dynamics, such as power, love, hate, instinct, freedom, control, self interest, and common good to be regularly approached and negotiated. Nagy described the potential pathological outcomes of failing to experience this interaction: "Unless the person can struggle with his negative

PAGE 88

77 feelings and resolve them by acts based on positive, helpful attitudes towards his parent, he cannot really free himself of the intrinsic loyalty problem and has to 'live' the conflict, even after the parent's death, through pathological defensive patterns" (p. 20). Parental invasion of life space can occur overtly, but the most powerful ones are "overt, conscious attitudes" conflicting with "covert expectations." A son can be parentified in a manner that is easily understood when it occurs more overtly, (for example, mother asking for care, task fulfillment, and confidentiality more suitable toward her husband). But parentification is also occurring from father to son, for not only may father have high expectations to dream about son far advancing the maleness of his generation, he may also be threatened by such advancement. Distancing in his threatened state, leaving son to replace him with his wife, sets the stage for much responsibility for son with no unconditional nurturance from mother and no real, dynamic relationship with father. This stage may well stay stable until adolescence, but in adolescence the person has growth needs that fluctuate between childishness and adulthood. He needs to spontaneously be able to lean on adults and, at other times, have them supportive of his responsible, ambitious self apart from them.

PAGE 89

78 This is not to say that shared tasks in the family are not necessary or that even temporary parentification is not healthy (for example, when a parent is sick or a death has occurred). However, from a child rearing perspective, it serves as a time to learn responsibility and flexibility, not a time of permanent reliance. Reversals of positions in the family stand the risk of being taken in by the child as "rule" rather then "exception." Nagy noted: "the deprived child who was rejected by his parents can internalize such a degree of bitter resentment that he might subsequently use the whole world for getting even through revenge. Furthermore, by scapegoating his wife as a miserable mother, he not only gets even with his internalized parents through re-projection of pent-up resentment upon another person, but also protects his parents by taking his revenge out on someone else. Unconsciously he avoids blaming their memory while sacrificing his loyalty to his wife" (p. 25). Pathology, for Nagy, was that injustice records can be kept in invisible family patterns passing on to the next generation a constricted, absoluteness rather than dynamic, real, mutually respectful relationships. The clearest form of pathology as it destructively affects human relationships can be seen in the borderline character

PAGE 90

79 disorder. Everett and associates (1989) compiled a series of descriptions and explanations from an object relations and a family systems perspective. The current diagnositc descriptors of borderline behavior include impulsivity, unstable and intense interpersonal relationships, inappropriate anger, identity disturbances that include self image, sexual orientation, career, values, chronic boredom and emptiness, and an intense avoidance of abandonment. The object relations theorists argue that internal images are developed in infancy and early childhood out of the childparent relationship. Normality would be a resulting process wherein internal images accurately represent reality. Abnormality, then, is when the internal images become fixed, rigid, and stereotypic so as not to fit in a fluid, real world (Scharff, 1987). The rigidity occurs when the child begins to split the parent object into opposing good and bad. Melanie Klein saw this as the origin of the "bad self" introjected from a world perceived as persecutory (Everett, Halperin, Volgy, & Wissler, 1989). Fairbairn saw the early forms of tension between an "ego ideal" and an "ideal object" (Scharff, 1987). Mahler (1979) believed that, in rapprochement, boundaries need to be developed with goals of sharing, self confidence, and toleration of

PAGE 91

80 ambivalence. The child will naturally experience loneliness, wish for mother's presence, and fear of engulfment as well. Mahler believed that a consistent, present father was significantly helpful in providing relief from mother. She believed that mother's own life circumstances would normally at times find her both clinging to and withdrawing from her infant. It is when there is a schism between mother and father along with unresolved conflicts from mother's past that the child can become a "projective respository" of the adults' ambivalent needs. The child accomodates and therefore develops behaviors which coincide with the needs, moods, and behaviors of the significant adult. Kernberg (Everett, et. al., 1989) conjectured that a child needs to be "re-fueled" and when mother is not consistently there, the child stores up rage. However, this rage becomes internalized finding the child concluding with "being a bad child abandoned by an angry mother." Defense tendencies of splitting and projection may be avoided by a balanced relationship with a relationally balanced father and mother, Masterson (1985) concurred that without this balance all objects become identified as all good or all bad which prevents integration and relational negotiation. The exaggeration

PAGE 92

finds the developing child only able to remember the negativity of life. The child, then, begins to develop the defense of projective identification to manage the unacceptable parts of the self. These parts of self are simply projected onto other close relationships, where he/she either identifies with the other and feels comfort or reacts to the other and feels justified and convinced that abnormality is reality. Shapiro (Everett, et. al., 1989) in 1975 completed a study of 200 families over 8 years. He found that the parents functioned together as a dynamic unit. Thus he concluded that a study of only the mother-infant relationship was inadequate. The parents were observed as continuing to be emotionally bound to their own families of origin. This contaminated the parenting having the parents believing that, for example, "autonomy is good and dependency is bad" or "autonomy is bad and dependency is good." The parent or child role was then rigidly viewed ideal or bad if excessively dependent or autonomous. When the opposite extreme was represented in, or expected from, each parent, the children were torn between loyalty and betrayal, unable to have their own freedom to explore. Mandelbaum (Everett, et. al., 1989) in 1977 studied parents

PAGE 93

of borderline personalities. He observed that they were deeply enmeshed with their children. They were parenting more out of their own separation traumas than informed, responsive parenting. Wolberg (Everett, et. al., 1989) expanded the list of personal disorders that had been levied on mothers to include fathers. Fathers of borderlines were diagnosed as absent, emotionally distant, passive/aggressive, controlling, paranoid, mildly psychopathic, and depressive. This was seen as congruent with Mahler's allowance that father was needed as a "protector from the potentially overwhelming 'mother of separation"' (Mahler, 1979a). Grinker & Werble (Everett, et. al., 1989) concluded that when there is a parental failure due to absence or distance of the father there is no dynamic to conteract the "regressive pull of the mother and she gains exclusive control of the infant" (p. 26). Gunderson and his associates (Everett, et. al., 1989) described this dynamic as the attachment needs of the parents, (toward each other and their own parents) persistently taking precedence over the actual needs of the children. It is, then, the tenuous marital relationship that allows for a projection process to occur which provides a semblance of balance. Masterson (1985)

PAGE 94

83 considered the child who was parentified as the "caretaker" as destined to be the "borderline carrier." As studies have evolved since Mahler's early work, more acknowledgement has been given to parental promotion of pathology rather than a simple mother-child interaction. It is now believed that when parents become overinvolved with their children and in their children's sibling relations out of their own history of unresolved conflicts, and when children protect and rescue their parents' relationship by becoming overinvolved in the parents' spousal subsystem, that excessive pathology abounds. Everett (1989) noted that relational life was usually easier for female borderline carriers than for male borderline carriers. The female tends to replicate the patterns through a husband, but the male has usually experienced limited male role modeling. The resultant cross gender intensity establishes yearnings of over clinging and/or abandoning before being abandoned. This becomes a base, then, for replication in his son. Slipp (1984) included in his work a collection of psychological studies of children of holocaust survivors. Children with relational problems were deemed unstable due to the emotional unavailability

PAGE 95

84 of their parents. Their parents were emotionally stuck, still unable to work through their grief over lost family members. In addition, expectations of parents for their children to succeed were high, but also bound antithetically with a parental jealousy when they experienced their children having advantages that they lacked. Slipp categorized four basic family interaction patterns that accounted for the child evolving into schizophrenia, hysterical and borderline disorders, depression, and delinquency. The child's role in the fathermother-child triangle was, in the above order of pathologies: scapegoat, go-between, savior, and avenger. The fathers (in the same order) were identified as (a) narcissistic and unable to process negative feelings and negotiate a depth relationship with spouse; (b) narcissistic with ego defenses of splitting and projective identification in which the wife is seen as "bad object" by husband and he idealizes the child as "good object." The child is set up to be glue to hold together a marriage; (c) father is either overly powerful and dominant, or weak and depressed (or fluctuates). The child is set up to enter the world vicariously for father, and since this is a "conditional acceptance," the dynamic finds the father needing the child to fail and stay as well. The child, then, is in a double bind in

PAGE 96

which there is an overt demand to achieve along with a covert parental need or expectation for him/her to fail; and (d) the father is distant which promotes an over attachment of child to mother. The child, then, is insecure and hungry for nurturance from father, but the child is also rageful about engulfment by and loyalty to mother. When the child is asymptomatic there is acting out via delinquency. Feldman (Meth & Pasick, 1990) identified four types of dysfunctional father-son relationships with related outcomes: (a) "disengagement" defined as very little daily contact which may clinically promote depression or conduct disorders, (b) "conflict" when father is only the disciplinarian resulting in even more behavioral problems and an aggressive nature in the son, (c) "coalition" implying a cross-generational phenomenon with father coming on the scene only as peacemaker between mother and children, and (d) "abuse" which results in the son emerging as rigid with low self esteem, poor impulse control, low tolerance for frustration, and either an authoritarian himself or passive and distant due to being repulsed by violence. Gilette (1992), writing about the current "men's movement," noted the persistence of father as absent or distant perpetuating the

PAGE 97

86 male dilemma. Gilette's interpretation was that "when father is absent the boy is left to fend for himself in what is usually a hostile feminine environment (and is) crippled in his developmental tasks" (p. 53). Men come to adult relationships disempowered, and what appears to be autonomy or dominance is a reaction formation. Men become disempowered in two ways: (a) non-gender specific when there is a "not good enough mother" and a "not good enough and balanced enough holding environment," and (b) gender specific wherein an emerging masculine self is injured instead of nurtured by father, uncles, older brothers, and other male role models. Men, according to Gilette, emerge vulnerable and unable to determine and draw appropriate self boundaries and relational boundaries. They, then, tend to distance during heterosexual conflict and pursue during high anxiety (for example, when feeling they are being abandoned). This, of course, often takes on the stereotypes of macho dominance/attack or insensitivity/detachment. Meth and Pasick (1990) wrote about machoism developing out of father's unavailability. It leaves the boy unable to define and prove his masculinity except by renouncing the support and connection of the first woman in his life (mother). This will

PAGE 98

87 frequently be delayed until adolescent dating or even marriage. Mother, then, will be renounced for the nurturance of another woman. Yet, without the nurturance of a male role model, the emerging man's masculinity remains uncertain. This will often lead to him demonstrating repetitive cycles in which he will renounce and leave the nurturance of one woman for another and another. To complicate further, boys often win the right to re-attach to their mothers by proving themselves to be of nurturance value to mother. They become more used to feeling held hostage to get some care, while still feeling lonely and vulnerable nevertheless. The man either stays so emotionally preoccupied with this in his adult life that there is little left over for children who may have come along, or his own "unfinished child" stays competitive with the children. Meth and Pasick (1990) also identified dynamics that serve to sustain the male dysfunction. These are categorized as gender stereotypes and skewed social rules. Men are still expected to be insensitive to their own and others' feelings, see expression of feeling as a weakness, place high value on the rational, disguise deeper feelings by conflicting or distorting communication, avoid intimacy and commitment, use alcohol and drugs to block out their feelings.

PAGE 99

and restrict their emotions to the point of excessive stress and stress related illnesses. The skewed rules are for the purpose of sustaining the above social myths about men and emotions: must be competitive in sports, must depend on women to fulfill their emotional needs, must use sex as the outlet for emotions and the way to experience love, tenderness, and affection, must drink to enhance feelings, must be totally controlled at work, and must handle, suppress, or move beyond upsetness as quickly as possible. The trend of an increase of men in therapy seems not only hopeful in intervening into the above constrictions, but it seems to reinforce that men have behaved in stereotypic manners in marriage and parenting not by choice but by emotional barriers. Meth and Pasick (1990) described the male self esteem to not only be diminished by having no positive male role model, but compounded by feeling to blame for father's absence and feeling unable to meet up to an idealized notion of the father's abilities. Men, then, are left with unfinished emotionality to resolve and left with family and societal distortions which need education and training. Meth and Pasick argued that "unless the male is helped to explore his relation to his father, then he is acting out his maleness and not able to

PAGE 100

89 determine for himself, consciously, what kind of male, husband, father, friend he wants to be" (p. 246). Today's woman, as represented in major magazines for over a decade, declares that she wants a kind of man different from the industrial age, but this is not the kind of man most fathers have taught their sons to be (Cottle, 1991). Today's family was depicted by Cottle as more active than ever before in an interfacing with schools, corporations, agencies, and international concerns; and with the primary skills for success being communication, cooperation, negotiation, respect, and mutuality. It was argued that this is not the kind of family and set of family rules which many people have in their past. To create new, successful work and social futures Cottle believes that it is imperative that pathologies of the past be studied and understood and that therapy and education be available to promote the kind of early environment which produces a child equipped with self esteem who is more able, as an adult, to cope with diversity, ambivalence, and frustration. The transgenerational family systems theory offers a broader scope providing resources of observation to enable the identification of functional or dysfunctional patterns and interactions. It brings the

PAGE 101

90 researcher away from dyads and simple cause and effect into the realm of family projection processes, triangles, and interlocking triangles. Multjgenerational Patterns Men are frequently able to deal with and move beyond gender issues in therapy (Meth and Pasick, 1990). As they do so and become disentangled from gender stereotypes and societal constrictions, they often begin a mourning process over lost time and opportunities within their families of origin. Responsive therapists find themselves assisting men in focusing on an "intergenerational search" and for multi-generational dynamics that help to account for their feelings, experiences, and difficulties in their parenting and adult intimacies. Meth and Pasick's surveys concluded that men believe they make rational, logical choices; however, in therapy they grow to see that they are largely dictated by significant people from their past. Not only is their behavior not freely chosen, but unresolved emotionality from their past triggers the current behavior, making it automatic. Men traditionally attempt to solve the frustrating side effects by aggressive control and/or distancing and disconnecting. The theory best known for attending to multiple

PAGE 102

91 generational dynamics is Murray Bowen's Family Systems Theory, known now in the Bowenian circles as Natural Systems Theory. The Intergenerational Contextual Family Therapy theory of Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy with its roots in object relations theory serves as a bridge from traditional views of adult relational intimacies to the intricacies of the triangling patterns found in adult lives as they seek to be healthy and appropriate in their connectedness with others. Murray Bowen conducted extensive family research on schizophrenia. He embraced a theory that schizophrenia was a symptom rather than the disease and that this symptom was a result of emotional processes in the family (Bowen, 1985). Bowen believed that dysfunction occurred for at least three generations before schizophrenia emerged in a diagnosable fashion. Describing emotionality as a potential basis for symptom development, Bowen propounded that all relationships, by their definition of relatedness, have an emotional, drawing together, component. In families this component is especially intense (Bowen, 1985). Feeling connected to another is a social need, but in families it has more to do with personal identities. In families the need to be definitively together must balance out with the need to be a separate

PAGE 103

92 individual, which Bowen called differentiation. A high level of differentiation is exemplified in the person who can function freely as an adult apart from parents and can retain a same, steady sense of self when in their presence. Bowen observed that all humans experience anxiety. It is experienced in an acute form as the persistence of daily life problems and decisions, the interruptions via death and loss, and the dynamics of transition from one developmental stage in life to another. It is experienced in chronic form as the individual with high dependence who continues to try to solve anxiety by attempting to get rid of insecurity and panic that rises within the self. The solution is often attempted via excessive togetherness, which Bowen called fusion. The individual, in anxiety driven cycles, would proceed to stabilize by excessive clinging which would often, then, generate anxiety in the partner. The partner, feeling smothered and a disappointment to the other since failure to solve the other's inner anxiety dilemma is inevitable, would then distance or "triangle" to construct emotional insulation. Bowen identified five basic relational patterns which can emerge out of this process: (a) excessive and irrational conflict; (b) distancing, often with experiences of attachment to others or things outside of the

PAGE 104

93 family, as in affairs, excessive work, overly demanding hobbies, or volunteer activities; (c) cutoff, most often seen as a distancing from family of origin, but can be seen in divorce; (d) dysfunction in one spouse finding one overfunctioning in some area with the other, then, underfunctioning in that area; and (e) dysfunction of at least one child, a triangling in which a collusion has formed. An example of this is a projection process from a parent to a child with concomitant dynamics of soothing the parent's emotions, usually covertly, triggered by interaction with the other parent. This soothing can result either in evoking inappropriate care from the child or in infantilizing the child. According to Bowenian theory children by nature grow apart from their parents except in those situations in which a parent's anxiety interferes. The most fused child is plagued by the smothering parent and deprived by the usually distant other parent. The most fused child, then, enters adulthood with even more anxiety not managed inside, even more need for excessive closeness than his/her parents, and even less individuality/differentiation than either of the parents (Papero, 1990). It is in this way that this "problem child" becomes a high risk of accumulating more problems

PAGE 105

94 in life to be attempted to be solved from outside the self. Therefore, resultant dynamics occur, such as infidelity, divorce, job instability, few balanced friendships, diagnosable emotional disorders, and some physical illnesses (Kerr and Bowen, 1988). So the process continues into repetitions, creating a lineage of fusion. Some generational members may be fortunate in these dysfunctional families, but only as their siblings become such compliant fusion objects for their parents that it leaves them untriangled. Gilbert (1992) interpreting Bowen described repetition as ". patterned behavior or feeling states formed in early relationship triangles in the family of origin. The behavior patterns are dictated by patterns imprinted in early life. Since they are relationally determined, they take the form of the well-known relationship patterns of conflict, distance, cutoff, overfunctioning and underfunctioning reciprocity, or triangles" (p. 94). She insisted that for this repetition to change, reactivity in the context of one's family of origin must change. This would constitute the steps toward increased differentiation, but the family's response is predictable and strong with multiple ways of indicating that "you are wrong, you must change back, and if you do not change back, there are severe

PAGE 106

95 consequences." Thus, one has a description of what accounts for the process patterns behind an individual's anxiety. Unless differentiation steps occur and ways of solving or dispersing anxiety cease, then the "... patterns form to 'solve' the problem of relationship anxiety (while) the basic problem, emotional immaturity, does not get addressed" (Gilbert, 1992, p. 41). Fogarty (1979) taught that tracking of dysfunction can be done by the therapist via "macrotracking" and "microtracking." Macrotracking is a discovery of all the many ways that extended family triangle into the nuclear family or vice versa. These include cutoffs and excessive closeness or intrusion and are describable in relation to "movement, direction, time, sequence of events, nature and rhythm of movement, distance, closeness, movement away from or toward, position, and fusion." Fogarty believed that the most powerful of the dysfunctions occurred when the family would form many small "sub-triangles." He believed that these sub-triangles would "overlap and interconnect," contributing to making change both difficult and complicated. As an alcoholic reportedly shared: "it seems like I am taken hostage or am taking hostages every direction I turn in trying to help myself,"

PAGE 107

96 Fogarty's "microtracking" is a therapist's study of what is stirring up in the insides of an individual when he/she is dealing with the other in the relationship (Fogarty, 1979). These are all the emotional reactions that an individual will embrace to deal with heightened anxiety. This is manifested externally as personal boundaries blur finding couples becoming too close and then too distant. This becomes a precarious environment for child rearing as it increases the tendency for a child to become a leg of a dysfunctional triangle. Kerr (1988) further framed the family environment of one generation having predictable consequences for future generations. A low differentiated child will tend to marry a partner at a same or lower level of differentiation. Each of their chronic anxieties will then become bound in repetitious patterns of dysfunction, which will include marital conflict or a dysfunction of one spouse or the impairment of a child. Each parent plays a part in the effect on the child. A common pattern finds father emotionally cut off, mother overfunctioning in the household, mother overly involved with the child, mother caught up in detachment from support from husband and less apt to think and reflect. Then, when there is any increase in

PAGE 108

97 stress, the level of chronic anxiety increases, triggering the many automatic adjustment devices to maintain emotional equilibrium. When this pattern becomes a daily one for the family, there is little emotional reserve and few creative options available for social challenges and developmental needs, such as school pressures and learning social and coping skills as a young teenager. Instead, there is often frustration and failure, with the common family defense of intensive blaming of each other. Kerr used the term "mooring lines" to describe the need to stay sharingly and supportively connected with each other. The family can become dysfunctional if the mooring lines become too tight or too loose. For example, father may practice loose mooring lines and bind his anxiety by triangling outside instead of inside the family, while mother, reciprocally, may tighten her mooring lines inside the nuclear family by triangling excessively with children or tasks. A son, then, might triangle outside of mother to attain some degree of separateness/relief from mother (loose mooring lines), and compensation for the distance he experiences from father (tight mooring lines). This son, then, would be promoted to become a type of husband/father who, when situational anxiety is high, when wife's chronic anxiety is displaced or projected, and when

PAGE 109

98 his own chronic anxiety is not effectively managed, may choose "too loose mooring lines" with his wife and children and obsessionally embrace "too tight mooring lines" with someone or something outside of his marriage and immediate family. An interesting aspect to the above process of sustaining emotional equilibrium is what the nature of that choice is when a projection process occurs, as from mother to child, and how a child is chosen. Kerr (1980) spoke to this as he observed and dialogued with Bowen. The process of projection seems to depend on the "degree of emotional 'turn-on' or 'turn-off the mother feels for the child." Kenwas quick to clarify this as an automatic process which cannot be corrected by simply acting the opposite because the feeling state is still there and transmittable. The relational dynamics can be negative (rejection) or positive (as in a reaction formation of overprotectiveness). The existence of the pattern is dependent on the parents' level of self differentiation, how much anxiety was present at the time of conception, pregnancy and birth, and the disposition of the parents about marriage and family. The list is long, but a few examples are an illegitimate birth, a birth when father is away for military service, a child deemed special by one or the other parent

PAGE 110

99 (the longed-for son, or the child who almost died in infancy), a first child, an only child, the last baby, twins, states of alcoholism, abuse, unemployment, and the first birth after the death of another child. These children emerge having been either overly pampered, neglected, or related to as inferior. This results in the child feeling special, inferior, cheated, worthless, grandiose, yielding a position in his/her marriage of vulnerability for carrying out a family projection process in his/her own generation. Brown (1991) believed that it is inside the family system that, far more than any other context, that history repeats itself. One comes to adult relationships with significant emotional baggage. If he/she was triangled in the family of origin, then his/her thoughts and feelings are not his/her own, but the consequences of patterns and movements in which he/she filled out a position. Sometimes these patterns are taught directly by parents as a family rule or expectation. The most potent teaching, though, is via emotional functioning, which serves to stabilize or fill out an adult identity. Many people become cognizant of the dysfunction and devote their lives to raising their children in an exact opposite way; however, an emotionally laden opposite resulting from reactive pain rather than

PAGE 111

100 slow, hard, self-differentiating growth, will serve to create a similar outcome in the children. This is so because the child still represents an arena of resolution for the parents' identity struggles with their parents. This is especially powerful when a parent represented both a position and a valence for his/her parent, such as victim, villain, bitch, hero, angel, bastard, etc. Brown believed that if a therapist mapped the triangles (along with their intensities) in a family, themes, labels, and myths would appear, giving insight to the therapist into a current life cycle stuckness. It is the family members' excessive tension around these themes that has them in inflexible patterns which interfere with a natural movement from one life phase to another thus perpetuating, at lease in part, a dysfunctional pattern of former generations. The baggage of the former generations' unfinished business needs to be the primary focus of study as any dyadic relationship grows and must be the primary reflection tool if automatic, reactivity and triangling are ever to give way to intimacy. Brown said that change, then, is "something different in the face of the same old thing." Nagy (Van Heusden and Eerenbeemt, 1987) explained the phenomenon of baggage of the former generations contaminating the

PAGE 112

101 nuclear family with reference to the "ledger." He cited an old adage: "the child of the account has to pay the piper." When a child's parents married they brought into that relationship each of their original loyalties. If those loyalties exceeded a natural gratitude for conception, birth, and being raised, they, then, were subject to their parents' ego needs. This may have been in the form of parentification or a more observable deprivation. In Invisible Loyalties (Nagy and Spark, 1973) Nagy referred to "consanguinity" which he defined as an "imprinting" of family binding which occurs in the initial stages of life. The child, then, for his/her own identity's sake, will always protect the parents out of this deep sense of identity loyalty. The parents are irreplaceable, and they must be dealt with for they have become internalized, making any move about them an identity shift within the self. A deprived child, for example, may carry a bitter resentment toward parents. As an adult, if resolve is not experienced with parents or with the feelings of conflict and polarization within the self, then the whole world may become a battlefield for revenge or a trigger for a paranoid reaction. Nagy believed that when there was a rupture of trust between parents, the child will become involved and will never cease to

PAGE 113

102 promote rejunction between the parents. The child will never give up and will employ all kinds of symptoms. This leaves the individual in a precarious state for attempting to form adult intimacies. Nagy believed that an adult becomes an able, relational self by "rendering an account of the existence of loyalty bonds and by integrating this notion actively in his or her design of life" (Van Heusden and Eerenbeemt, 1987). All humans were entitled to an uncontaminated, nurturing, intimate upbringing. Out of a background experience of emotional plenty or emotional famine the individual enters into adult roles of spouse, parent, worker, and citizen with "constructive entitlement" or "destructive entitlement." Constructive entitlement, in Nagy's framework, finds the individual resolving the past via integration within and respect and negotiation without. Destructive entitlement infers an obsession on a quest forever to solve or find compensation for the past in distorted affronts to others. Meth & Pasick (1990) correlate with Nagy in indicating that a significant amount of mourning must take place for release to be experienced and integration to occur. Nagy supported the existential embracement of the loss. At the many times and places of intimacy attempts, there needs to be an awareness of one's family of origin

PAGE 114

103 past, an acknowledgement of pain and pleasure, and a re-entry to present relationship with the advantage of such awareness and reflection. Respect of one's own background and emotional baggage provides a greater opportunity for a respect of one's partner's influences. It is out of such mutual respect that the chance is greater for the successful parenting of a new human being. The transgenerational theories shift the researcher from an obsession with the trees to a comprehensive study of the forest. A broad interplay of relationships with all their powerful collusions and triangles, many patterned for several generations, becomes the framework in which a study of influences in a midlife male's relational life can occur. These styles, while known in the literature, have received very little attention in relational research processes. This study involves an attempt to determine if certain family process variables correlate and if one can predict the degree of midlife, male relational competence through identification of family of origin process variables.

PAGE 115

CHAPTERS METHODOLOGY The purpose of this study was to explore the relational functioning of midlife men using the framework of transgenerational family systems theory. This exploration took shape in three forms: (a) a comparison of the perceptions of family of origin functioning and current relationship functioning among men who report high levels of current partner satisfaction and men who report low levels of current partner satisfaction, (b) an investigation of possible associations between current relational functioning and family of origin functioning, and (c) an investigation of possible associations between current relational satisfaction and functioning, family of origin functioning, and father of origin-son relational functioning. Study participants were drawn from African-American and Caucasian groups and from lower and middle income groups. Discussed in Chapter III is the methodology used in this study to address these issues. The chapter includes a description of the research design and variables of interest, population, sampling 104

PAGE 116

105 procedures, instrumentation, data collection procedures, research hypotheses, and data analysis procedures. Research Design and Delineation of Variables The research design used in this study was a descriptive design. One set of variables involving family of origin process characteristics was used for comparative analyses of two groups of midlife men: (a) men satisfied with their current partner relationship, and (b) men who are dissatisfied with their current partner relationship. The set of family of origin process variables included: (a) intergenerational fusion/individuation, (b) intergenerational intimacy, (c) intergenerational triangulation, (d) personal authority, and (e) intergenerational intimidation. A second set of variables focused on interactional processes in the current relationship and included: (a) partner fusion/individuation, (b) partner intimacy, and (c) nuclear family triangulation. This set was also used in a comparative analysis of the two groups of men (those satisfied with their current partner relationships and those dissatisfied). In addition, the association between men's relationship satisfaction, current relational process variables,

PAGE 117

106 father-son family of origin process variables, and family of origin process variables was investigated. Family of Origin Process Variables Inter generational fusion / individuation Intergenerational fusion/individuation refers to the manner in which a person operates with parents. Individuation is the term used to correlate with Murray Bowen's notion of self differentiation from one's family of origin (Bowen, 1985). Fusion is the opposite of individuation, revealing a manner of relating which is lacking in a sense of self and self separateness. Bowen's thinking was that the most fused child would enter adulthood with little developed capacity for self management from inside the self and would manage life by needing even more excessive closeness or distance than either of the parents did in their life process (Papero, 1990). This variable was measured by the intergenerational fusion/individuation scale of the Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire (PAFS-Q). Intergenerational i ntimacy Intergenerational intimacy depicts the degree of satisfaction with one's parents in the context of a voluntary closeness with distinct self boundaries (Williamson, 1981). Kerr (1988) captured Bowen's thoughts about intergenerational

PAGE 118

107 intimacy with the image of mooring lines described as lines of sharing and connectedness necessary for meaningful and healthy existence. If too tight or too loose, dysfunction ensues. This variable was assessed through the intergenerational intimacy scale of the PAFS questionnaire. Because this scale separately indexes intimacy between the respondent and his father and mother, information on the degree of intimacy with one's father can be collected. Intergenerational triangulation Intergenerational triangulation refers to the movement that an individual may make in a relationship under stress serving to bring in or give energy and attention to a person, object or process in addition to the dyad in lieu of resolving conflict in the dyad (Bowen, 1985). This concept particularly focuses on the phenomenon of drawing in the child when there is conflict in the marriage. Fogarty (1979), interpreting Bowen, believed that coping process via forming triangles would result in sub-triangles which would overlap and interlock. This process of coping would make for a coping pattern later in life in which change and interaction success with conflict kept within a twosome would be nearly impossible. This variable was measured by means of the PAFS intergenerational triangulation subscale which

PAGE 119

108 separately indexes the degree of triangulation with one's father and one's mother. Personal authority. Personal authority is defined as the ability to maintain a stance of individuation while intimately interacting with a parent (Williamson, 1981). This implies a characteristic which renders ability to practice increased control for one's individual destiny while still connected to one's significant systems, especially family of origin. This variable was assessed by means of the PAFS personal authority subscale. This scale classifies the degree of (or the lacking of) a separate, distinct person described by Bowen as the degree of self differentiation. Intgrggngrational intimidation Intergenerational intimidation is the degree of personal intimidation experienced by an individual when attempting to relate to a parent. It detects lingering patterns assumed to be present due to fixation in the fusion of the past. It coincides with the "personal authority" scale depicting the downside of lacking self authority. Fogarty (1979) interpreted this aspect of Bowen theory as an individual tending to present a state of heightened anxiety with self boundaries blurred, resulting in erratic reactions of too close, too distant, or exaggerated conflict. This

PAGE 120

109 variable was assessed by means of the PAFS intergenerational intimidation subscale which provides a separate score describing the presence of this quality in the respondent's separate relationships with his father and his mother. Current Relationship Process Variables Partner fusion/individuation Partner fusion/individuation is the degree an individual relates to the significant other in a fused or individuated way. Fusion connotes being so bound emotionally that there is little sense of self and self separateness, while individuation is retaining a sense of one's separateness and self directed thinking while staying connected in the relationship (Bowen, 1985). In Bowenian theory a fused parent will promote fusedness in an adult child. This variable was assessed through the use of the partner fusion/individuation subscale of the PAFS. Partner intimacy Partner intimacy represents the degree of satisfaction and voluntary closeness with one's significant other while retaining distinct self boundaries (Williamson, 1981). Williamson draws from Larzelere, Huston, and Peplau in item selection, depicting intimacy as having four parts: trust, lovefondness, self-disclosure, and commitment. In Bowen theory, the

PAGE 121

no existence of parental intimacy, which has husband and wife connected while respectfully separate and closeness with the children without triangles or fusion, promotes the offspring toward similar patterns. In Nagy's theory, when the husband and wife are joined trustfully together, the children grow up in an environment which frees them from the compulsion to unite or re-unite the parents. This theoretically frees them to do their own intimate joining. This variable was assessed by the usage of the PAFS partner intimacy subscale. Nuclear family triangulation Nuclear family triangulation refers to the extent of triangulation between partners and their children. Triangulation, again, is the movement that occurs under stress which, when marital conflict increases, tends to involve a collusion or projection process with the children or another person or object. Since this is done instead of resolving the couple conflict, it connotes a less than satisfactory or less than healthy adult, couple relationship. This was measured by use of the PAFS subscale nuclear family triangulation.

PAGE 122

Ill Relational Adaptability and Cohesion There is an attempt here to include structural and organizational descriptions to supplement the process language and descriptions of Bowenian and Nagy's theory. Minuchin's concepts are captured by Olson in FACES IICouples Version. Couple cohesiveness Cohesiveness is the degree of togetherness and the emotional bonding that exists among the family members. Its dimensions are emotional bonding, boundaries, coalitions, time, space, friends, decision-making and interests, and recreation. Cohesiveness is depicted by Olson, (1993) as occurring on four possible levels: disengaged, separated, connected, and enmeshed. It is argued that balanced separateness and connectedness represents a higher level of couple and family functioning. Cohesion was measured by use of the FACES Il-Couples Version cohesion scale. Couple adaptability Adaptability relates to the degree of flexibility demonstrated by a family group as change needs to occur in leadership, roles, and rules within the family. The degree of control, discipline, and negotiation is guaged. Four levels of adaptability are proposed by Olson (Fredman and Sherman, 1987):

PAGE 123

1 12 rigid, structured, flexible, and chaotic. A balance between structured and flexible types is viewed as more functional. Problems over time are predictable if a couple and/or family function at either extreme over an extended period of time. Couple adaptability was measured by means of the FACES Il-Couples Version adaptability scale. Father-S on Family of Origin Process Variables Intergene rational father-son intimacy This correlates with Williamson's intergenerational intimacy and scores separately on the PAFS questionnaire. It guages the degree of satisfaction with one's father in the context of a voluntary closeness while retaining distinct self boundaries. Intergene rational triangulation: father-son, mother-son This represents Bowen's triangulation concept by specifically measuring the degree of triangulation separately with one's father and with one's mother. This assessment is possible as the PAFS provides a set of two scores, one for father-son and one for mother-son, under its scale "intergenerational triangulation." Intergenerational intimidation: father-son This variable is the degree of intimidation experienced by the son as he attempts to relate to his father. In Bowenian language, anxiety heightens, self

PAGE 124

113 boundaries blur, and dysfunctional interaction ensues. This is measurable by a PAFS subscale. Population The population of interest consisted of men aged 35 50, who were currently either married or in a "same household" heterosexual relationship. The men were also the biological father of at least one child. This inclusion served to maximize the challenge of relating to a partner. The population from which the sample for this study was drawn consisted of men who resided in the Jacksonville, Florida area. Jacksonville is a major American city located in Northeast Florida. It has a population of 961,370 adults: 470,586 are males and 490,784 are females. There are 365,500 households: 127,024 have children under 18. The median age is 33 and the average household income is $37,567. There are approximately 125,000 males of the age group being studied (35-50). Jacksonville declares a labor force of 474,345 and a 5.33% unemployment rate, a figure which is well below the state and national figures. There are 419,189 individuals recorded as married. The racial mix is 72.7% White, 24.4% Black, 0.3% American Indian, 1.9% Asian, and 0.7% other ethnic groups. Education levels are 22% with less than a high

PAGE 125

114 school education, 31.13% who are high school graduates, and 46.87% with a college degree. Major employers include insurance companies, banks and mortgage companies, investment companies, hospitals, medical services and medical supplies, public schools, railroad and transportation company, grocery chain stores, AT&T and Southern Bell, city workers, and retail. Jacksonville is home to Mayport Naval Base and Jacksonville Naval Air Station. (Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, 1994). Sampling Procedures The sample consisted of 82 men, aged 35 50, who were solicited for participation in the study fron populations attending churches and community mental health center facilities. Equal numbers of Black males and White males from lower and middle socioeconomic groups were solicited. The settings provided samples of men who were experiencing marital/partner satisfaction and those who were experiencing unsatisfactory marital/partner relationships. Scores derived from the completion of the "Marital Satisfaction Scale" (Roach, Frazier, and Bowden, 1981) were used to delineate levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. This scale was chosen because it quickly elicits a subjective opinion of the relationship rather than a

PAGE 126

1 15 cognition. This better captures the affective state rather than a process of assessment which searches for reasons prior to each answer. Four groups of partner satisfaction and partner dissatisfaction were formed based on race and socioeconomic status. Race, in this study, was limited to Caucasian-American and African -American. Socioeconomic status was acknowledged in two categories: (a) those with an annual household income of greater than $35,000, and (b) those with an annual household income of less than $35,000. This was based on the average, annual household income of approximately $35,000 in Jacksonville, Florida. The context of church was chosen to represent a common place in society to more readily identify men in intact relationships. Two sites were chosen: Bethel Baptist Institutional Church and St. Marks Episcopal Church. There is a contrast between a congregational polity of one and the more hierarchical polity of the other which broadens inclusiveness. Both churches have members in low middle to upper middle socioeconomic levels. Bethel Baptist Institutional Church is composed of predominantly African-American members. St. Marks Episcopal Church is mostly a Caucasian membership. Along with the racial diversity in the mental health center this selection assisted in

PAGE 127

1 16 promoting a racial balance in the sample. Members of both congregations are family oriented and tend to be active in numerous civic organizations and community activities. The subsample drawn from churches were informed of the study during their adult Sunday School classes. Men between the ages of 35 and 50 were requested to complete the questionnaires and return them in a self-enclosed mailing envelope. A follow-up session for interpretation and a seminar on family dynamics was provided without cost to the participants. The context of a mental health center was chosen to access men with explicit presenting problems with relationships. Negotiation was made with the Clay County Community Mental Health Center and with Duval and Nassau County Mental Health Centers to survey all adult males, age 35 to 50, requesting services at the center during the last 5 years. The selection was limited to those with requests for services pertaining to family and/or couple relatinships. This group was accessed via invitation to a seminar on family dynamics described as including testing for personal and family awareness. Questionnaires were distributed and collected during the seminar. In case attendance was low a plan was made to mail the questionnaires

PAGE 128

117 with the inclusion of a stamped, self addressed envelope and an invitation to meet to interpret results. Items on the "Demographic Information" questionnaire were used to substantiate relational stability, but the MSS (Marital Satisfaction Scale) was used to identify men satisfied in their marital/partner relationships and men dissatisfied in their marital/partner relationships. The churches and mental health centers combined are simply sources where there is a greater likelihood of finding men representing this range. Items on the "Demographic Information" questionnaire were also used to identify race and socioeconomic status. In addition, participants in this study were required to meet the following sampling criteria: (a) married or in the same household for at least one year, (b) heterosexual, (c) the biological father of at least one child, (d) at least a high school education, and (e) employed for the last five years. Resultant Sample Participants in the study included: twenty-eight white males with a household income above $35,000, twenty-two white males with a household income under $35,000, seventeen black males with

PAGE 129

118 a household income over $35,000, and fifteen black males with a household income under $35,000. In addition to white males from St. Mark's Episcopal Church, white males from Clay County Community Mental Health Services, and black males from Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, solicitation was made to a Duval County psychiatric office which runs therapy groups for black males (a part of Duval County Mental Health Services) and Nassau County Community Mental Health Services (serving the northern dimension of the greater Jacksonville, Florida area. Distribution of questionnaires, testing, and collection were consistent with stated plans and procedures. The latter two centers were provided questionnaire packets by mail along with the same offering of interpretation and free seminars as the other sites. The mailout contained a stamped, return envelope along with provision to seal the test booklet for strict confidentiality. Table 3.1 reports the means and range for age, length of current relationship, number of marriages, number of children, and ages of the children. Table 3.2 shows the frequency distribution of the racial and socioeconomic variables. These figures are based on a sample size of 82 men.

PAGE 130

1 19 Table 3.1 Means and Range of Age. Length of Current Relationship. Number of Marriage s. Number of Children, and Ages of Children age curr relationship no. of marriages no. children age of children length MEAN 42 16 RANGE 35-50 1-30 1.38 1-3 2.1 1-5 13.37 1-27 Table 3.2 Frequency Distribution of Descriptive Variables Total Sample = 82 AfiS Number 35 39 40 44 45 50 Total Race Percent 31

PAGE 131

120 Table 3.1 -continued

PAGE 132

Table 3.1— continued 121 Length of Current Partner Relationship I 5 6 10 II 15 16 20 21 25 26 30 Total Number Percent 16

PAGE 133

122 Instrumentation In addition to a demographic questionnaire (Appendix A), there were three standardized instruments used in this study: (a) the Marital Satisfaction Scale, (b) the Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire, and (c) the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales Il-Couples Version. Demographic Inf ormation Questionnaire A demographic questionnaire assessing the examinee's relationship with his parents and current partner and family was used. Age, race, gender, ethnicity, educational level, socioeconomic level, number and ages of children, and number and length of adult, partner relationships were identified. Several questions on this questionnaire were drawn from a "Family of Origin Questionnaire" found in The Birth of the Fa mily An Empirical Ingiiirv (Lewis, 1989). Questions pertaining to satisfaction and adjustment provided data for comparison with test scores. Questions pertaining to the degree to which father fulfilled his parental role and met his son's needs provided data for further potential comparisons with test scores.

PAGE 134

123 Marital Satisfaction Scale (MSS1 The Marital Satisfaction Scale was used to assess the participants' satisfaction with their current partner relationships. The Marital Satisfaction Scale was designed by Roach, Frazier, and Bowden (Fredman and Sherman, 1987) in 1981 to specifically measure satisfaction. It was initially designed to assess the effectiveness of counseling. It utilizes questions that evoke a quick opinion of the relationship (instead of cognitions), encouraging the subject to reveal attitude. The MSS is a simple, easy to answer, five-point Likert scale with 48 items. It does not ask for any recall of facts, only current opinion. The MSS items were reduced from the original 73 items through factor analyses. Its high internal consistency of .97 has the authors presenting the 20-item, MSS-Form B. Validity was measured by correlation with the Locke-Wallace Marital Adjustment Test with the result of .79. Test-retest reliability for three weeks was .76. It has a scoring range of -96 to 4-96. Satisfied levels are clearly above 50 and levels of low satisfaction are below 50.

PAGE 135

124 Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire (PAFS-0'> The PAPS questionnaire was deyeloped by Bray, Williamson and Malone and first revealed in 1984 (Bray, et al, 1984). The instrument is based upon the family systems concepts of Murray Bowen and Ivan Boszormengy-Nagy. It is intended for self report and measures family relationships as they are perceived by the individual being tested. The version used is for adults with children. The instrument measures the family of origin variables of intergenerational fusion/individuation, intergenerational intimacy, intergenerational triangulation, personal authority, and intergenerational intimidation; and the marital/partner relationship variables of partner fusion/individuation, partner intimacy, and nuclear family triangulation. Opposing poles are identified (fusion as opposed to individuation, isolation as opposed to intimacy, personal authority and interaction success as opposed to intergenerational intimidation). Intimacy is defined as "voluntary closeness with distinct boundaries to the self," and intergenerational intimacy refers to "knowing the individual person and the private meanings of the inner life experiences of each parent." The test assesses skills and

PAGE 136

125 patterns, not constructs, so is appropriate to guage degrees of the variables. The Personal Authority in the Family System questionnaire groups 132 items into eight categorical scales: spousal fusion/individuation, intergenerational fusion/individuation, spousal intimacy, intergenerational intimacy, nuclear family triangulation, intergenerational triangulation, intergenerational intimidation, and personal authority (defined as "topics of conversation which require an intimate interaction with a parent while maintaining an individuated stance," Bray, et al, 1984). The individual items in this instrument are scored on a five-point Likert scale and spelled out distinctly for each set of questions. One reliability study has been conducted on the instrument, a test-retest study involving a sample of 90 nonclinical volunteers. Internal consistency was calculated with a coefficient alpha mean of .90. Test-retest reliability ranged from .55 to .95 with a mean of .74. All but one of the scales demonstrated good reliability. Only the "intergenerational fusion/individuation" scale fell outside acceptable range, and this finding was explained by the authors as due to the intervention nature of its questions which evoke growth and change.

PAGE 137

126 A validational study utilizing a sample of 400 nonclinical participants was conducted in order to confirm the underlying factor structure of the instrument. Factor analysis was used for the eight scales. Cronbach alpha coefficients ranged from .74 to ,96. An additional analysis was done on a sample of 83 clinical clients with resultant reliability coefficients ranging from .75 to .96, nearly identical with the nonclinical group. The authors of the PAFS questionnaire recommend comparison to the mean scale scores of their 1984 study yielding normative scores from a nonclinical population. Furthermore, comparison is suggested to be made to their 1984 clinical groups a retrospective Pre-score mean which provides an indicator of dysfunctional relationships and a Post-score mean which provides a guage for average to above average relationships. The PAFS questionnaire is easily read and easily answered. Hand scoring is possible via a hand scoring key provided by the authors. This study utilized two sections of the PAFS: the family of origin process scales and the current relationship process scales.

PAGE 138

127 Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales II-Coup1es Version FACES II was constructed by Dayid H. Olson, Richard Bell, and Joyce Portner, There are two versions : Family Version and Couples Version, FACES Il-Couples Version is a 30-item test with a fivepoint Likert scale (almost never, once in awhile, sometimes, frequently, almost always) designed to measure couple cohesion and couple adaptability. The premise behind the concepts is moderation. Theory is drawn from Salvador Minuchin's concepts about family structure indicating that dysfunction ensues when extremes in structure exist. Cohesion is the structural, organizing dynamic that accounts for the emotional bonding among the family members. Four levels are guaged: disengaged, separated, connected, and enmeshed. When a system shows evidence of extremes, either disengaged or enmeshed, dysfunction is likely. Adaptability is that aspect of structure and organization which allows for flexibility and change for itself or among its members. The four levels are: chaotic, flexible, structured, and rigid. If a system is bound within "chaotic" or "rigid," dysfunction ensues either not allowing for growth and difference or lacking sufficient structure to organize or move against. The interface of the four levels in two categories allows the tester to

PAGE 139

128 identify a family or couple type among 16 types. Two of these 16 types are considered balanced/moderate and considered functional for healthy families and couples. Recent studies by Olson suggest a possible total linear score constructed by adding the cohesion and adaptability scores and dividing by two. Their gathering of empirical data resulted in a conclusion that the extremely high categories, enmeshed and chaotic, were not captured by FACES II. Therefore, high scores ("very connected" and "very flexible") are desirable as they interface with each other. The interface of the two scores divided by two produces one of four family structure types: balanced, moderately balanced, mid-range, and extreme. Those families depicted by extreme (Family Type score 1 or 2) or the mid-range (Family Type score 3 or 4) would be seen as less healthy and less functional. A high score of 5-6 or 7-8 would depict more functional families. FACES II was developed in 1981 using 464 adults responding to 90 items. The age mean was 30.5. Using factor analysis and reliability analysis the items were reduced to 50. The 50 items were used to test 2,412 persons. Factor analysis and reliability analysis were used to reduce items to the current 30. Cronbach Alpha

PAGE 140

129 Reliability is .87 for the cohesion items and .78 for the adaptability items. Test-retest correlations were .83 for cohesion and .80 for adaptability. Data Collection Procedures The data gathering process was dependent upon distribution of a demographic questionnaire and four paper and pencil assessments. There was the agreement and ability of participants to fill out the questionnaire and instruments and an efficient method of return. All chosen instruments were designed for response at a low to moderate level of usage of the English language, and all were simple to administer. The mental health setting participants were provided a free seminar on family dynamics and were asked to fill out the instruments before leaving. Secretarial staff attempted some contacts by mail. No fee was assessed and the participants were provided interpretations upon request. All participants signed an "agreement to participate" waiver. The church group was accessed in person by the researcher. Distribution and explanation was provided in person during Sunday School on a Sunday morning. Completed questionnaires were gathered at the end of the meeting with some choosing to mail back

PAGE 141

130 their questionnaires. A second on-site meeting was provided for interpretation and teaching. "Agreement to participate" waivers were also signed by this group. Participants were coded by alphabet letter and number, "C" for church group plus number beginning with "1," and "M" for mental health group plus number beginning with "1." Each participant was instructed to record the number for later interpretation of scores. Research Hypotheses The following research hypotheses were examined: Hypothesis One After controlling for race and socioeconomic status, men dissatisfied with their current partner relationship will differ significantly from men who are satisfied with their current partner relationship in their perceptions of their family of origin interactive processes of intergenerational fusion/individuation, intergenerational intimacy, intergenerational triangulation, intergenerational intimidation, and personal authority as measured by the Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire (PAFS-Q).

PAGE 142

131 Hypothesis Two After controlling for race and socioeconomic status, men dissatisfied with their current partner relationship will differ significantly from men who are satisfied with their current partner relationship in their perceptions of their current relational processes of spousal fusion/individuation, spousal intimacy, and nuclear family triangulation as measured by the respective Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire (PAFS-Q) subscales. Hypothesis Three Among midlife men, there is a positive relationship between the level of relationship satisfaction reported and the level of functional couple interaction reported. Hypothesis Four Among midlife men there is a significant relationship between functional levels of couple interaction as measured by the FACES IICouples Version and: (a) low levels of couple relational processes of spousal fusion and nuclear family triangulation, and high levels of spousal intimacy, as measured by the respective Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire (PAFS-Q) subscales, (b) low levels of the father-son family of origin relational processes of

PAGE 143

132 intergenerational triangulation and intergenerational intimidation, and high levels of intergenerational intimacy, as measured by the "father" portion of the PAFS-Q subscales and (c) low levels of family of origin relational processes of intergenerational fusion, and high levels of personal authority, as measured by the PAFS subscales. Data Analytic Procedures Three data analytic methods were utilized in this study. For hypotheses one and two, three-way analyses of variance were conducted. For hypothesis three, Pearson correlation coefficients were computed. For hypothesis four, a series of correlations were computed to determine whether the couple interaction functional level of a midlife man is significantly related to current relational processes, family of origin father-son relational processes, and family of origin processes.

PAGE 144

CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The purpose of this study was to utilize transgenerational family systems theory as a framework for exploring and attempting to understand the intimate relational functioning of midlife men. The sample for this study consisted of 82 men who ranged in age from 35 to 50 years and were drawn from middle and lower socioeconomic levels and white and black ethnic groups. Perceptions of family of origin interactive processes, current couple interactive processes, and couple interactional structure were elicited from two groups of men differing in their levels of satisfaction with their current intimate relationship. In this chapter, the results of the study are presented as they pertain to each of the four research hypotheses posed. Research Hypotheses Hypothesis One HI: After controlling for race and socioeconomic status, men dissatisfied with their current partner relationship will differ significantly from men who are satisfied with their current partner 133

PAGE 145

134 relationship in their perceptions of their family of origin interactive processes of intergenerational fusion/individuation, intergenerational intimacy, intergenerational triangulation, intergenerational intimidation, and personal authority as measured by the Personal Authority in the Family System Questionnaire (PAFS-Q). This hypothesis was tested by conducting a series of five threeway analyses of variance (2x2x2) which assessed the effects of relationship satisfaction group (satisfied or dissatisfied), race (African-American or Caucasian), and socioeconomic status (low income group or middle income group) on each of the five family of origin process variables measured by the PAFS-Q subscales of intergenerational fusion/individuation, intergenerational intimacy, intergenerational triangulation, intergenerational intimidation, and personal authority. The results of these analyses are presented in Tables 4.1 through 4.7. The three-way analysis of variance of the men's perceptions of intergenerational intimacy, which is presented in Table 4,1, reveals no significant effects of relationship satisfaction level (F=0.49, df=l,75, p<.49), race (F=0.40, df=l,75, p<.53), or socioeconomic status (F=1.92, df=l,75, p<.17). In addition, there were no significant

PAGE 146

135 interactions among satisfaction level, race, and socioeconomic level. Thus no significant differences were evidenced between satisfied and dissatisfied men on the levels of intergenerational intimacy reported. Table 4.1 Analysis of Variance of Intergenerational Intimacy by Group. Race.

PAGE 147

136 The three-way analysis of variance of the men's perceptions of intergenerational fusion, which is presented in Table 4.2, reveals no significant effects of relationship satisfaction group (F=1.47, df=l,75, p<.229), race (F=0.05, df=l,75, p<.817), or socioeconomic status (F=0.04, df=l,75, p<.85). In addition, there were no significant interactions among satisfaction level, race, and socioeconomic level. Table 4.2 Analysis of Variance of Intergenerational Fusion bv Group. Race, and Socioecon omic Status Source

PAGE 148

137 In contrast, the results of the analysis of variance presented in Table 4.3 revealed significant effects by satisfaction group (F=5.72, df=l,75, p<.019), and by race (F=7.67, df=l,75, p<.007) on men's intergenerational intimidation scores. There were no significant differences by socioeconomic level nor did any of the interactions reach significance. Examination of the means of each group as shown in Table 4,4 revealed that the satisfied group reported higher scores on this variable. Because the PAFS-Q subscales are scored such that the higher the score, the more functional or positive the level of family functioning reported, these findings indicated that men reporting higher relationship satisfaction reported a lower level of intergenerational intimidation than men dissatisfied with their current intimate relationship. The three-way analysis of variance of the men's perceptions of intergenerational triangulation, which is presented in Table 4.5, revealed no significant effects of satisfaction level (F=0.44, df=l,75, p<.52), race (F=2.77, df=l,75, p<.10), or socioeconomic level (F=1.45, df=l,75, p<.23). In addition, there were no significant interactions among satisfaction level, race, and socioeconomic level.

PAGE 149

138 Table 4.3 bv Group. Race..

PAGE 150

139 Table 4.5 bv Group. Race.

PAGE 151

140 group. There were no significant interactions among satisfaction group, race, and socioeconomic level. In conclusion, given the significant differences in intergenerational intimidation and personal authority noted between men satisfied and those dissatisfied with their intimate relationship, the first hypothesis was supported. Table 4.6 Analysis of Varianc e of Personal Authoritv bv Group. Race, an d Socioeconomic Status Source

PAGE 152

141 Table 4.7 Mean Scores of Personal Authority (PA) bv Group N GRP 1 (sat) 4 4 GRP 2 (dis) 3 8

PAGE 153

142 triangulation. The results of these analyses are presented in Tables 4.8 through 4.11. The results of the three-way analysis of variance presented in Table 4.8 revealed significant effects by satisfaction group (F=18.16, df=l,75, p<.0001) and by race (F=6.18, df=l,75, p<.015) on spousal intimacy scores. The results revealed no significant effect by socioeconomic level (F=0.78, df=l,75, p<.38) nor were there any significant interactions of satisfaction level groups, race, and socioeconomic status. The means of the race groups, shown in Table 4.9, indicated that the Caucasian group scored higher on this variable than the African-American group. The results of the three-way analysis of variance of men's perception of spousal fusion/individuation presented in Table 4.10 revealed significant effects by satisfaction level (F= 125.02, df=l,75, p<.0001). The mean scores by satisfaction level shown in Table 4.11 revealed a higher mean score for the satisfied group. There were no significant effects by race (F=2.29, df=l,75, p<.13), or by socioeconomic status (F=0.11, df=l,75, p<.75). In addition, there were no significant differences revealed for any interaction of satisfaction level, race, and socioeconomic level.

PAGE 154

143 Table 4.8 Analysis of Variance of Spousal Intimacy by Group. Race, a nd Socioeconomic Status Source df ^p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001 Sum of Squares Group

PAGE 155

144 Table 4.10 Analysis of Variance of Spousal Fusion bv Grou p. Race, and Socioeconomic Status Source

PAGE 156

145 family triangulation. Presented in Table 4.12 is evidence of a significant effect by relational satisfaction (F=12.84, df=l,75, p<.0006) and no significant effect by race (F=0.48, df=l,75, p<.49) by socioeconomic status (F=0.33, df=l,75, p<.57). The means scores of satisfaction groups reveal that the satisfaction group means are higher that the dissatisfaction group (Table 4.13). There were no significant differences by any interactions among satisfaction group, race, and socioeconomic level. Table 4.12 Analysis of Varianc e of Nuclear Triangulation bv Group. Race, a nd Socioeconomic Status Source df Sum of Squares Group

PAGE 157

146 Table 4.13 Me^n Scores of Nuclear Family Tri a neulation hv Satisfaction nrm.p Q N NT MEAN SD GRP 1 (sat) 44 38.24 0.64 GRP2(dis) 3 8 34.75 0.73 Given the significant differences reported in the levels of spousal intimacy, spousal fusion/intimidation, and nuclear family triangulation between men satisfied and men dissatisfied with their current partner relationship, the second hypothesis was supported. Hypothesis Three H3: Among midlife men, there is a positive relationship between the level of relationship satisfaction reported and the level of functional couple interaction reported. This hypothesis was tested by computing correlation coefficients (shown in Table 4.14) to determine the significance of the relationship between these variables revealed by scores on FACES Il-Couples Version and the Marital Satisfaction Scale, was at p<.001 and the correlation coefficients were 0.89 and 0.81. The table reveals that as the FACES score increases the relationship satisfaction score decreases, indicating an extremely strong inverse

PAGE 158

147 relationship. The increase of the FACES score indicates a higher, healthier, relational structure type. The decrease of the relationship satisfaction score indicates a higher degree of satisfaction. Hypothesis three is supported given these significant results. Table 4.14 Correlation Analysis of FACES Il-Couples Version and Group (Marital Satisfaction Scaled FACES GRP FACES GRP 1.00 0.00

PAGE 159

148 processes of intergenerational triangulation and intergenerational intimidation, and high levels of intergenerational intimacy, as measured by the "father" portion of the PAFS-Q subscales, and (c) low levels of family of origin relational processes of intergenerational fusion, and high levels of personal authority, as measured by the PAFS-Q subscales. To test the first portion of this hypothesis, a series of correlations between participants' FACES Il-Couples Version score and the PAFS-Q scores on the spousal fusion, spousal intimacy, and nuclear family triangulation subscales were computed. The results of these analyses are presented in the intercorrelation matrix depicted in Table 4.15. As can be seen, each of these subscale scores correlated significantly with the FACES Il-Couples Version score. In each of these associations, the higher the PAFS-Q score, the higher the level of couple functioning reported. The strongest correlation was that of spousal fusion followed by nuclear family triangulation and then by spousal intimacy. The spousal fusion correlation coefficient of .82 indicates significant, strong prediction. Probability scores for spousal fusion and nuclear family triangulation which are less than .001 and spousal intimacy which is less than .01 further

PAGE 160

149 support the hypothesis. In the first portion of this hypothesis all three PAFS-Q measures predicted FACES Il-Couples Version in a positive direction. Based on these findings the first portion of hypothesis four is accepted. Table 4.15 Correlation Analysis of FACES Tl-Couples Version (functional tvpes'i with Spousal Intimacy. Spous al Fusion/Individuation. and Nuclear Family Triangulation FACES SI SF NT FACES 1.00 0.35 0.82 0.42 0.00 0.0012 0.0001 0.0001 To test the second portion of this hypothesis, a series of coirelations between participants' FACES Il-Couples Version score and the PAFS-Q father-son subscales measuring intergenerational intimacy, intergenerational triangulation, and intergenerational intimidation were computed. The results of these analyses are presented in the intercorrelation matrix depicted in Table 4.16. As can be seen, only the correlation between father-son triangulation and FACES II reached significance. The inverse relationship shown

PAGE 161

150 for father-son triangulation is expected as this subscale's higher scores mean more triangulation. This subscale was computed differently than the intergenerational triangulation score. With this result this portion of the hypothesis is supported. Table 4.16 Correlatio n Analysis of FACES Il-Couples Version (functional types) with Father-Son In timacy. Father-Son Triangulation. and Father-Son Intimidation FACES INF ITF IIF FACES 1.00 -0.03 -0.28 0.19 0.00 0.77 0.01 0.08 To test the third portion of this hypothesis a series of correlations between participants' FACES Il-Couples Version score and the PAFS-Q scores on family of origin relational processes of intergenerational fusion/indiyiduation and personal authority were computed. The results can be seen in Table 4.17 reyealing personal authority to be the strongest predictor (p<.014). The correlation between intergenerational fusion/indiyiduation and FACES II did not reach significance. Based on the significance of personal authority this hypothesis is accepted.

PAGE 162

151 Table 4.17 Correlation Analysis o f FACES ll-Couples Version Afunctional tvpeO with Intereeneratio nal Fusion/Individuation and Personal Authority FACES IF PA FACES 1.00 0.12 0.27 0.0 0.30 0.01 In summary, the result of these analyses reyeal significant associations between the level of couple interaction reported and the extent of couple interaction processes. The more functional the level of couple functioning, the more positive the couple processes reported. In contrast, only one significant association was noted between the level of couple interaction and the extent of positive father-son interactive processes, that of intergenerational triangulation. Furthermore, of the two family interactive processes, only personal authority was significantly associated with more functional levels of couple interaction. Given these results, the fourth hypothesis is accepted.

PAGE 163

CHAPTERS DISCUSSION This study was completed to better understand what conditions lead to men's relational difficulties. Of particular interest were the influences of family of origin interactive processes on men's relational competence. The study attempted to determine whether there were predictable differences in how men who varied in their level of adult relationship satisfaction described their current relationship functioning and family of origin processes. Instruments were chosen that represented ways to assess relationship satisfaction, couple interaction style, and interactive processes in families of origin and current intimate relationships. An attempt was made to control for the effects of race and socioeconomic status by securing a sample with equal representation of black males, white males, and middle and lower socioeconomic levels. Based on the research literature, the age range of 35 50 was selected as the adult male midlife when stress is highest relationally. This chapter contains a discussion of the results of the study and the study's 152

PAGE 164

153 limitations, suggestions for future research, implications of these research findings, and summary and conclusions. Discussion of the Results Hypothesis One Hypothesis 1 stated that the family of origin process variables reported by men satisfied with their current partner relationship would differ from those of men dissatisfied with their current partner relationship. Of the five family of origin variables examined only two--intergenerational intimidation and personal authority-significantly differentiated the two groups of men. In addition, a significant effect by race was noted for the intergenerational intimidation variable. Bray, Williamson, and Malone (1984) closely connected the presence of intimidation and self authority in interpersonal relationships, contending that both variables were associated with maintaining a clear sense of identity while in relationship. Low intimidation would have adult children relating to parents as equals. High self authority would find an individual able to hold and express important opinions and values regardless of the response while staying connected. The results of this study would suggest that men

PAGE 165

154 who are relationally satisfied in midlife tend to characterize their interactions with their families of origin as honest and expressivelow in intimidation and high in personal authority. The significant difference in intimidation scores noted by racial group is quite interesting. Because the author offered participants the opportunity to meet with the researcher for a follow-up interpretation and to participate in a family dynamics focused seminar, some further clarification of this difference has been gained. In this subsequent meeting, a number of the participants acknowledged using a somewhat stereotypic "macho" defense of denying intimidating effects of parents even if they existed, while others admitted they exaggerated the effects of intimidation if they were estranged from a parent. While it is not possible in this study to determine the validity of their reports, it suggests a limitation which might be better approached in further studies by using other instruments or assessment methods, such as a direct interview. Despite these assessment difficulties, the findings of significant difference in personal authority gives strength to the argument of considering this aspect of family of origin functioning in discussions of current partner intimacy.

PAGE 166

155 Hypothesis Two This hypothesis stated that there would be significant differences between the men satisfied with their relationship and those who were dissatisfied on three aspects of current relationship interaction: spousal fusion, spousal intimacy, and nuclear family triangulation. Significant difference at the 0.001 level between satisfied and dissatisfied men were reported for all three dimensions. In addition, significant differences by race were noted for spousal intimacy, that is, greater levels of intimacy reported for whites than blacks in this study. This difference may be a reliable one or may be due to the tendency for black males to portray a picture of independence regardless of the actual state of things at home. This was discussed in Staples and Johnson's (1993) description of black families in a white society. Rothman (1993) identified difficulties for blacks submitting to assessment instruments which are perceived as based in a white culture with a formed bias that exists both within the test and the scorers. If blacks perceive the questions pertaining to intimacy to be unusual in their normal cultural frame, the results will be skewed. This would give some potential

PAGE 167

156 understanding about why this variable stands out for the black sample, but more study is needed. The discovery of significant differences between the two groups of men in their subjective account of their relationship satisfaction and their process descriptions of intimacy with the partner, level of individuation with the partner, and degree of triangulation with the partner and children within the household, underscores the connection between interpersonal processes and intrapersonal competence. The PAFS-Q (Bray, Williamson, & Malone, 1984) uses unique definitions of these interpersonal process variables which are consistent with transgenerational family systems language. Intimacy is a "voluntary closeness with distinct boundaries to the self (with) trust, love-fondness, selfdisclosure, and commitment." Individuation is a significant process dynamic as it depicts a level of self delineation able to be simultaneously separate and connected. Its opposite, fusion, connotes a low self functioning process in which one connects or separates via a drivenness based upon the emotional climate. Triangulation was deemed significant by the theorists and the PAFSQ authors because it gave a process description to what happens

PAGE 168

157 when low self functioning individuals are under stress. Such individuals tend to become unstable and bring a third person into their intrapsychic and primary intimacy conflicts. A subjective awareness of one's own satisfaction with a partner, then, seems to be tied to the men's awareness of and description of their current relationship processes so that when one is being discussed it implies involvement in the realm of the other. Hypothesis Three. This hypothesis was constructed in order to show evidence of high correlation between subjective descriptions of partner satisfaction (measured by the Marital Satisfaction Scale) and an established scale specifying structural types of couple relationships and categories of functioning and dysfunction (FACES Il-Couples Version). The findings from this study suggest there is a strong association between level of couple functioning and level of couple satisfaction as the Pearson correlation coefficient was greater than 0.80. For example, when men were found to report a type 5 or greater couple structure (on a scale of 1 to 8 with 1 very dysfunctional and 8 very functional) they consistently conveyed satisfaction in their relationships. Types 5 to 8 scores are associated

PAGE 169

158 with high levels of cohesion and more flexible sets of rules and roles. Inversely, it may be said that when men lose their sense of closeness and cooperation, finding them more prone to compensate for distance by a tendency toward domination and control, that they, themselves, refer subjectively to their relationships as dissatisfaction. Hypothesis Four This hypothesis attempted to reveal the association strengths of certain interaction process variables (as scored on the PAFS-Q-Q). This analysis was done to determine to what extent these variables significantly relate to specific structural types of couple relationships (as scored by FACES Il-Couples Version). Hypothesis 4a focused on the same process variables which were tested with the Marital Satisfaction Scale in Hypothesis 2. The finding from this study supported acceptance of this portion of Hypothesis 4. There were significant correlations noted between spousal fusion/individuation and nuclear family triangulation at the 0.001 level and spousal intimacy at the 0.01 level. Their strong association with FACES IICouples Version in a positive direction gives substantial support to the assumption that these variables are significantly involved in both partner satisfaction and relationship functioning.

PAGE 170

159 Hypothesis 4b was attempted to correlate a father's influence in family of origin and men's partner functioning. The literature on men's interpersonal competence is filled with claims which would have us believe that a simple absence of father or skewedness in that relationship alone is a major determinant of the adult male intimacy difficulties. However, transgenerational systems theory gives merit to these claims only as they involve projections and triangles due to unresolved intrapsychic and couple conflict. The results from this study revealed minimal support for father interaction alone. Limited support was provided for differences by triangulation (probability at <.01, but correlation strength at only .28). This finding supports the theory in that as the father is more active in unhealthy triangulation the result would be a usage of more primitive defenses and coping styles, for example, disengagement and rigidity on the FACES scales. This finding would encourage professionals interested in understanding the nature of partner relationships to always consider the whole picture of family dynamics, that is, the entire family of origin individuals and their interaction patterns in relationship to the current client or subject rather than just one family of origin representative.

PAGE 171

160 Hypothesis 4c was an attempt to correlate FACES Il-Couples Version with the overall family of origin process variables of intimidation and personal authority. As mentioned earlier in the discussion of the results associated with Hypothesis 1, the PAFS-Q authors closely connect these two variables with each other. In addition they further described intimidation as a fixation to the past with a continuation of the parental hierarchy boundary and self authority as being able to stay connected while staying a clear, autonomous self (Bray, Williamson, & Malone, 1984). While the significance of intimidation was rejected personal authority was not able to be rejected at the 0.05 level, but its correlation strength was weak at .27. This again supports the thinking that if one reports oneself to be either overly connected with or cutoff from one's past significant others, there are significant implications for how one structures one's intimate love relationships. In conclusion, there is sufficient evidence from this overall study to support the usage of transgenerational family systems theory in reference to midlife male intimacy. The findings support the idea that both past family of origin and current couple relationship patterns are significantly associated with couple functioning and relationship satisfaction. The

PAGE 172

161 strongest differences between satisfied and dissatisfied men are found on spousal fusion, nuclear family triangulation, and spousal intimacy. How theory explains this is that when stress is high and self differentiation is low the individual will resort to ineffective coping means to lessen the anxiety rather than resolve relational issues. This finds the individual, in the order of statistical significance, (a) being emotionally driven to excessive closeness (pursuing and engulfing) or excessive distance (running away, avoiding, and cutting off), (b) involving other family members and/or other third parties to displace the anxiety by projection or pseudo intimacy, and (c) confusing attachment dependence with intimacy. Father-son triangulation was the only father-son interactive process for which there were significant differences between the satisfied and dissatisfied groups. It might be that when couple difficulties ensue there may be a residue of unsettledness between mother and father as husband and wife that has a displacement effect on son. This opens the door for more investigation of Nagy's (1973) reference to hidden loyalties and Brown's (1991) prediction of repeated history. There is reason to speculate that the son may

PAGE 173

162 well be carrying an imprinted pattern in which he tends to behave like his father under stress, and needs to discover how to pronounce father and mother as separate, human, relational strugglers, and, similarly, his partner and himself as separate. This connects with the next strongest variable "personal authority," which is closely identifiable with the next two strongest variables "intergenerational intimidation" and its "father" subscale. The statistics provided reason to consider "personal authority" as significantly related to relational satisfaction and functional couple interaction types for men. Williamson (1981) had emphasized the vital importance of terminating the "intergenerational hierarchical boundary." This depicts the child as able to weather the aloneness of emotional separation and to handle the varying responses of family of origin members. Bowen (1985) believed that states of fusion in the family when the child is young establishes tendencies to remain overly conscientious about each others' emotions hindering the child's natural process of establishing friendships and love relationships apart from the family on their own. Kerr (1988) described this as "mooring lines" in the family of origin which are too tight or too loose. This promotes a learned coping style for the son.

PAGE 174

163 If he is still emotionally unresolved regarding his personal authority as an adult he may resort to a kind of reactivity which is too loose or too tight in his attachment patterns with his partner. Thus, the greater the degree of family of origin unfinished business the greater the tendency to continue displacement rather than stand up to the self in the emotional presence of father and/or mother. That these dynamics are shown to have some discriminatory strength statistically is support for this theory. Interestingly, the findings from this study provided little to no support for the family of origin variables of intergenerational intimacy, intergenerational fusion, and intergenerational triangulation. Reliability studies by Bray, Williamson, and Malone (1984) cited intergenerational fusion as falling outside an acceptable range. (They explained this as growth induced by the nature of its questions so that re-test was tainted.) It may well be that by selecting a sample within churches and mental health settings this was true for all these scales. Church members who are motivated to respond to questionnaires and marital seminars may come to the testing time with sizeable preconceptions about how they should

PAGE 175

164 answer some items. This may also be the case with individuals connected with mental health facilities. Limitations of the Study Some limitations have been noted already in the discussion of results. One concern was the interplay of black male response to what may be perceived as white biased testing. This, along with a degree of machoism, may have skewed some of the results. This may also be significant for upper socioeconomic Whites in the Episcopal Church setting. There was an observable attitude among the group members about wanting to appear "well." This setting is known for significant social and political involvement, so reputations are deemed vital. The limiting of the sample to churches and mental health facilities may also have produced a slant for individuals to report in expected ways. This also connects with the project totally being dependent on self report. In one setting spouses also filled out questionnaires. The general impression was that the wives tended to self report more extensive dissatisfaction and placed more emphasis on questions pertaining to closeness and intimacy. In some cases the wives reported dissatisfaction when the husbands reported

PAGE 176

165 satisfaction in the relationship. Further studies may be improved by comparing scores with partners' scores and by including more specific questions on the demographic questionnaire, do a person-toperson interview, or arrange for an observation of interaction. Whether answers are skewed when given in the presence of certain significant others may also be a consideration. Three sets of participants completed testing when spouses were present. Another two sets of participants completed testing when their pastors were present. One set of participants was tested at a marital seminar sponsored by church leaders to improve marital relationships. In retrospect, more sensitivity to these possible contaminants might have improved the validity of participants' responses. Another possible limitation concerns the design of the study. Many variables known to enhance growth, deepen life's struggles and sense of appreciation for others, or exaggerate inadequate coping were not identified. For example, further clarification of the relationships under study might be gained by controlling for trauma, crises, specificity of education, prominence in the community, radical geographical or socioeconomic transitions, and whether individuals perceive themselves as "marrying up" or "marrying down."

PAGE 177

166 An additional sampling constraint concerned the restriction of sampling to one region of the country which is religiously, politically, and socially conservative. Time and economic constraints prevented a broader sampling of locales, A final limitation concerns the nature of the instruments used. There are a limited number of validated instruments available which assess family of origin processes. Further validation and reliability studies may also need to be done on PAFS-Q-Q to determine whether there are inherent racial, social, economic, and religious biases. Studies of this nature further illuminate the dire need among marriage and family practitioners to construct more adequate and accurate means of testing or observing, and carry out more extensive research which aids in linking the variety of approaches to marital problems presented to mental health professionals. Suggestions for Future Research This study clearly connects family process variables and language with subjective self reports, assessments of relational satisfaction, and family structural analyses. It also represents one of a limited number of research efforts to capture an understanding of males in relationship. Based upon this effort alone there seems to be

PAGE 178

167 wisdom in further studying the dysfunctional coping patterns which manifest themselves in reactionary drivenness, triangulation, and a confounded sense of self in the spousal/nuclear family arena. Research time could be spent on assessment and intervention development. More specifically, the significant differences noted between the satisfied and dissatisfied groups on the process variables personal authority and its polarity intergenerational intimidation, suggest a need to focus future research on the nature of intergenerational hierarchical boundaries and therapeutic means of assessment and intervention. There is merit for education in that if further studies strengthen this finding there can be clearer interface of "personal authority versus intimidation" with other theories using terms such as real versus pseudo self. Any further study may be strengthened by choosing or devising other instruments, especially ones that would better focus on personal authority and anxiety displacements away from personal and couple relational conflicts. It is advised that attention be drawn away from an attempt to make the father-son relationship more simple in its significance than it is. More attention needs to focus on

PAGE 179

168 the family processes in which the individuals, couple, siblings, and child are nested, and perhaps move to identify male relational types predicted by styles of family processes. Adding observation and interviews by trained professionals with a carefully devised interview guide may strengthen the ability of researchers to measure family of origin process dynamics. Also, if this study's findings are replicable, a subsequent study might pick and choose only those sections on the PAFS-Q pertinent to known to be significant dynamics. A study which uses the same or similar approach to increase understanding of women's relational difficulties would serve as a balanced understanding on which to build. Implications of the Study This study has shown that men who are satisfied with their current partner relationship report significantly different aspects of family of origin relating than men who are dissatisfied with their current partner relationship. In addition, there are significant differences shown between the two groups in their descriptions of fusion with their partner, intimacy with their partner, and a tendency to triangulate in the context of the nuclear family. Couple

PAGE 180

169 interactional structure was also shown to highly correlate with relationship satisfaction. Functional structural types were shown to be predicted in a positive direction by all three current relationship process variables, the father portion of intergenerational triangulation, and personal authority. There are several implications for family and couple therapy practice from these findings. First, when men in therapy report relational dissatisfaction the therapist can expect to eventually detect dysfunctional process activity with his current household. The therapist can be alert to identifying and tracking emotionally laden movements of pursuing, clinging, and controlling and/or movements to distance, avoid, or cutoff. Unhealthy involvement of third parties can be anticipated, and a difficulty in defining self from the entanglements of others or the chosen triangle may be frequent. The family and couple therapist can assume significant unresolved problems with self authority and a prolonged failure at dissolving the intergenerational hierarchical boundary to become a clear, self defined adult to adults in relation to parents. The therapist can expect to witness displacements and projections having to do with this and much energy spent on avoiding the dilemma by calling attention to other problems and

PAGE 181

170 symptoms. The therapist may also assume that the source of restrictive power is family of origin based and can expect to see manifestations of it in current relationship structure with the more severe depicted as disengaged and rigid. It is yet to be substantiated whether it is more therapeutically beneficial to primarily focus on structure modification or clarifying and strengthening one's interface with family of origin members. Summary and Conclusions While there are many aspects of male identity and male relationship dynamics which are still unknown, this study has shown that men are able to provide data on a subjective self report instrument which leads to identifying levels of relational satisfaction which are highly correlated with functional and dysfunctional relationship structures. How these men described the current relationship dynamics was associated with their relationship structure type. How these men described their family of origin dynamics, especially personal authority, was significantly associated with their relationship type. While further study is warranted it appears that individuals lacking in personal authority and overly respectful of a lingering intergenerational hierarchical boundary may

PAGE 182

171 manifest his anxiety in skewed current relational processes, be found as rigid and distant in structure, and displace his anxiety if it becomes too high onto involvement with a third party, inside or outside the nuclear family.

PAGE 183

APPENDIX DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION QUESTIONNAIRE

PAGE 184

DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION 1)AGE: 2)GENDER: male female 3)RACIAL ETHNIC STATUS. 4)MARRIED? yes no 5)H0W LONG? 6)H0W MANY TIMES? 7)IF UNMARRIED, IN A CURRENT RELATIONSHIP? 8)H0W LONG? 9)CHILDREN? yes no 10) AGES & SEX IDCHILDREN LIVE WITH YOU? yes no If "no" explain. 12)FAMILY INCOMEless than 20,000 per yr_20,000-35,000__35,000-50,000_ over 50,000 13)LEVEL OF EDUCATION: grade school high school college higher 14)Y0UR OPINION ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SPOUSE OR SIGNIFICANT OTHER; very close? somewhat close? not very close? distant? 15)H0W DECISIONS ARE MADE? you always make decisions? your partner always makes decisions you make final decision but listen to other your partner makes final decision but listens to you you & your partner make decisions together no one really decides 16)H0W FEELINGS ARE EXPRESSED IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD? openly and directly direct expression but with some discomfort some restriction of feelings some feelings expressed, most not no expression of feelings 17)THE MOOD AND TONE OF INTERACTIONS IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD? warm, affectionate, optimistic polite,without much warmth or affection frequently hostile with a few pleasant times very hostile depressed pessimistic 18)DEGREE OF UNRESOLVABLE CONFLICT IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD? severe conflict_ definite conflict that disrupts some conflict that disrupts some conflict but not disruptive little or no conflict 19) YOUR OPINION ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CHILDREN: very close? somewhat close? not very close? distant? 173

PAGE 185

174 20)HOW SENSITIVE ARE YOU TO YOUR CHILD'S NEEDS AND FEELINGS? insensitive even when told_aware of needs & moods very sensitive & aware 21)H0W DO YOU REACT TO YOUR ROLE AS A PARENT? actively resent the demands disappointed/frustrated ambivalent satisfied extremely happy with role 22)BIOLOGICAL PARENTS LIVING? father: yes no mother: yes no 23)BIOLOGICAL PARENTS MARRIED to each other? yes_ no_If no, to someone else? 24)PARENTS' RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD? very close? somewhat close? not very close? distant? 25)HOW CLOSE WAS YOUR FATHER TO YOU WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD?: very close? somewhat close? not very close? distant? 26) YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FATHER AS AN ADULT: very close? somewhat close? not very close? distant? 27)HOW SENSITIVE WAS YOUR FATHER TO YOUR NEEDS AND FEELINGS? insensitive even when told_aware of needs & moods_very sensitive & aware 28)HOW DID YOUR FATHER REACT TO fflS ROLE AS A FATHER? actively resent the demands disappointed/frustrated ambivalent satisfied 29)THE EXTENT TO WHICH YOUR FATHER SATISFIED YOUR EMOTIONAL NEEDS FROM INFANCY THROUGH AGE 12: needs essentially unmet rarely met needs sometimes met usually met needs essentially met 30)THE EXTENT TO WHICH YOUR FATHER SATISFIED YOUR EMOTIONAL NEEDS AFTER AGE 12: needs essentially unmet rarely met needs sometimes met usually met needs essentially met 3 DHOW ANXIOUS DO YOU THINK YOUR FATHER WAS ABOUT FILLING HIS ROLE AS A FATHER? extremely anxious highly anxious moderately anxious little anxiety no anxiety 32)HOW ANXIOUS DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN ABOUT FILLLING YOUR ROLE AS A FATHER? extremely anxious highly anxious moderately anxious little anxiety.. no anxiety

PAGE 186

175 33)HOW ANXIOUS DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE BEEN ABOUT FILLING YOUR ROLE AS AN INTIMATE HUSBAND OR PARTNER? extremely anxious highly anxious moderatley anxious little anxiety no anxiety

PAGE 187

BIBLIOGRAPHY Beck. A. T. (1967). Depression: Causes an d Treatment Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Belsky, J., Youngblade, L., Rovine, M., and Volling, B. (1991). "Patterns of marital change and parent-child interaction," Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 53, 487-498. Benson, M. J., Larson, J., Wilson, S. M., and Demo, D. H. (1993). "Family of origin influences on late adolescent romantic relationships," Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 55, No. 4, 663-672. Bettelheim, B. (1987). A Good Enough Parent New York: Jason Aronson. Biller, H. B. (1970). "Father absence and the personality development of the male child," Developmental Psvchnlngy Vol. 2, 131-201. Billingsley, A. (1968). Black Families in White Amerirfl Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. Bly, R. (1990). Iron John. Reading, Pennsylvania: Addison-Wesley. Boszormenyi-Nagy, I. (1987). Foundations of Contextual Therapy New York: Bninner-Mazel. 176

PAGE 188

177 Boszormenyi-Nagy, I. and Framo, J. L. (1965). Intensive Family Therapy-Theoretical and Practical Aspects New York: Harper and Row. Boszormenyi-Nagy, I. and Krasner, B. R. (1986). Between Give and Take-A Clinical Guide to Contextual Therapy New York: Brunner-Mazel. Boszormenyi-Nagy, I. and Spark, G. (1973). Invisible Loyalties New York: Harper and Row. Bowen, M. (1985). Family Therapy in Clinical Practice New York: Jason Aronson. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and Loss-Vol. I: Attachment New York: Basic Books. Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and Loss-Vol. II: Separation New York: Basic Books. Bowlby, J. (1980). Attachment and loss-Vol. Ill: Loss: Sadness and Depression New York: Basic Books. Boyd-Franklin, N. (1989). Black Families in Theraov: A Multisystems Approach New York: The Guilford Press. Bradshaw, J. (1990). Homecoming: Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child New York: Bantam Books. Bray, J. H., Williamson, D. S., and Malone, P. E. (1984). "Personal Authority in the Family System: Development of a Questionaire to Measure Personal Authority in Intergenerational Family Processes," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy Vol. 10, No. 2, 167-178.

PAGE 189

178 Brody, G. H., Stoneman, Z., and McCoy, J. K. (1992). "Associations of maternal and paternal direct and differential behavior with sibling relationships: Contemporaneous and longitudinal analyses," Child Development Vol. 63, No. 1, 82-92. Brooks, J. (1981). "Social maturity in middle-life and its developmental antecedents," In D. Eichom, J. Clausen, N. Haan, M Honzik, and P. Mussen (Eds.). Present and Past in Middle Life New York: Academic Press, 243-265. Brown, F. H. (Ed. 1991). Reweavin^ the Family Tapestrv-A MultiGenerational Annroach to Families New York: W. W. Norton. Carter, B. and McGoldrick, M. (1989). The Changing Family T.ife Cvclg; A Framework for Family Therapy Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Chodorow, N. (1978). The Reproduction of Mothering: Psvrhnanalvsis and the Socio logy of Gender Berkeley: University of California Press. Cohen, M. B., Baker, G., Cohen, R. A., Fromm-Reichman, F., and Weigert, E. V. (1954). "An intensive study of 12 cases of manic depressive psychosis," Psychiatry Vol. 17, 103-138. Cohler, B. J., and Boxer, A. M. (1984). "Middle adulthood: Settling into the world-person, time, and context," In D. Offer and M. Sabshin (Eds.), Normality and the Life Cvcle: A CriHcal Integration. New York: Basic Books, 145-203. Coner-Edwards, A. F. (1988). Black Families in Crisis New York: Brunner/Mazel.

PAGE 190

179 Coraeau, G. (1991). Absent Fathers. Lost Sons: The Search fnr Masculine Identity Boston: Shambhala. Cottle, T. J. (1981). Like Fathers. Like Sons: Portraits of Intimacy an
PAGE 191

180 Fine, M. and Hovestadt, A. J. (1984). "Perceptions of marriage and rationality by levels of perceived health in the family of origin," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy Vol. 10, No. 2, 193-195. Fleming, W. M. and Anderson, S. A. (1986). "Individuation from the family of origin and personal adjustment in late adolescence," Journal of Marital and Family Therapv Vol. 12, No. 3, 311-315. Fogarty, T. F, Ed. (1979). The Family-Compendium T Rye Brook, New York: Center for Family Learning. Foley, V. D. (1986). An Introduction to Family Therapy New York: Grune and Stratton, Framo, J. L. (1972). Family Interaction New York: Springer Publishing. Framo, J. L. (1976). "Family of origin as a therapeutic resource for adults in marital and family therapy: You can and should go home again," Family Process Vol. 15, No. 2, 193-210. Fredman, N. and Sherman, R. (1987). Handbook of Measurements for Marriage and Family Therapy New York: Brunner-Mazel Publishers. Freud, S. (1943). A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis Garden City, New York: Garden City Publishing Co. Friedman, E. H. (1985). Generation to Generation New York: The Guilford Press.

PAGE 192

181 Gadlin, H. (1977). "Private lives and public order: A critical view of the history of intimate relationships in the United States," in Levinger, G. and Raush, H. L. (Eds.). Close RelationshipsPerspectives on the Meaning of Intimacy Amherst, Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press. Gilbert, R. M. (1992). Extraordinary Relationships-A New Wav of Thinking about Human Interactions Minneapolis, Minnesota: Chronimed Publishing. Gilette, D. (1992). "Men and Intimacy," Winespan-Inside the Men's Movement. New York: St. Martin's Press. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a Differe nt Voice: PsvchologJcal Theory and Women's Development. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Glenn, J. (ed.). (1978). Child Analysis and Therapy New York: Jason Aronson. Guerin, P. J., Jr. (1976). Family Therapy Theory and Practice New York: Gardner Press. Hall, C. M. (1983). The Bowen Family Theory and its Uses New York: Jason Aronson. Harris, K. M., and Morgan, S. P. (1991). "Fathers, sons, and daughters: Differential paternal involvement in parenting," Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 53, No. 4, 531-544. Heusden, A. and Eerenbeemt, E. M. (1987). Balance in Motion: Tvan BoszormenviNagy and his Vision of Individual and Family Therapy New York: Brunner-Mazel.

PAGE 193

182 Hovestadt, A. J., Anderson, W. T., Piercy, F. P., Cochran, S. W., and Fine, M. (1985). "A family-of-origin scale," Journal of Marital and Famil y Therapy Vol. 11, No. 3, 287-297. Jackson, D. D. (1968a). Human Communication-Vol. T: Communication. Family and Marriage-. Palo Alto.California: Science and Behayior Books. Jackson, D. D. (1968b). Human Communication-Vol. II: Therapy Communication and Change Palo Alto, California: Science and Behayior Books. Jacksonyille Chamber of Commerce (1994). "Executiye Summary," U. S. Bureau of Census; U. S. Department of Commerce; and City of Jacksonyille Planning and Deyelopment Department, Jacksonyille, Florida. Johnson, S. (1992). "Natural allies in search of a mentor," MAN! Men's Issues. Relati onships, and Recoyerv Vol 1, No. 14, 10-11. Jones, E. (1953). The Life an d Work of Sjgmund FrenH-Vnl T New York: Basic Books. Jones, E. (1955). The Life an d Work of Sigmund FreudVol. II New York: Basic Books. Jones, E. (1957). The Life and Work of Sigmund FreudVol. TIT New York: Basic Books. Joyce, E., Ruskin, N., and Turrini, P. (1981). Seoaration-Indiyidwatipn; Theory and A pplication New York: Gardner Press Inc.

PAGE 194

183 Karpel, M. (1976). "Individuation: From fusion to dialogue," Family Process Vol. 15, 65-82. Keen, S. (1991). A Fire in the Belly New York: Bantam. Kegan, R. (1982). The Evolvi ng Self: Problem and Process in Hnm^n Development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Kerr, M.E. (1981). "Family systems theory and therapy," In A. Gurman and D. Kniskem (Eds.), Handbook of Family Therapy New York: Brunner/Mazel. Kerr, M. E. and Bowen, M. (1988). Family Evaluation-An Approach Based on Bowen Theory New York: W. W. Norton and Co. Kety, S. S., and Rosenthal, D., Eds. (1968). The Transmission of Schizophrenia. Oxford: Pergamon Press. Kleiman, J. I. (1981). "Optimal and normal family functioning," The American J ournal of Family Therapy Vol. 9, 37-44. Klein, M. (1932). The Psych oanalysis of Children London: Hogarth Press. Kohlberg, L. (1966). "A cognitive-developmental analysis of children's sex role concepts and attitudes," in Jacoby, E. The Development of Sex Differences Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. Kohut, H. (1977). The Restoration of the Self New York: International University Press. Lamb, M. E. (1981). The Role of the Father in Child Development (2nd Ed.). New York: Wiley.

PAGE 195

184 Lawson, D., Glaushell, H., and Karst, R. (1993). "The age onset of personal authority in the family system," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy Vol. 19, No. 3, 287-292. Lax, R. R, Back, S., and Burland, J. A. (1980). RaPDrochemenf-Thf Critical Subohase of Separation-Individuation New York: Jason Aronson. Levinson, D. J. (1978). The Seasons of a Man's T.ife, New York: Ballantine Books. Lewis, J. M. (1989). The Birth of the Familv-An Emniriral Tngniry New York: Brunner-Mazel. Lidz, T., Fleck, S., and Comelison, A. R. (1965). Schizophrenia and the Family. New York: International University Press. Lynn, D. B. (1974). The Father-H is Role in Child Development Monterey, California: Brooks-Cole. MacLean, P. D. (1985). "Brain evolution relating to family, play, and the separation call," Archives of General Psychiatry Vol. 42, 405-417. Mahler, M. S. (1979a). The Selected Paners of Margaret S. Mahler^SiLIl — Infantile Psychosis and Early Contributions New York: Jason Aronson. Mahler, M. S. (1979b). The Selected Papers of Margaret S, Mahl^rVqI II; Separation-Individuation New York: Jason Aronson. Masterson, J. F. (1985). The Real Self-A Developmental. Self ^n^ Obiect Relations Approach. New York: Brunner/Mazel.

PAGE 196

185 McAdoo, H. P. (Ed.), (1988). Black Families Newbury Park, California: Sage Publications. Meth, R. L., and Pasick R. S. (1990). Men in Therapy: The rh^llpnp pf Changg. New York: Guilford Press. Miller, A. (1984). Thou Shalt No t be Aware-Societv's Refr;,vpl nf the Child. New York: Meridian Book. Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and Family Therapy Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Minuchin, S., Rosman, B. L., and Baker, L. (1978). Psvchosomatir Familipg. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Mitchell, S. (1988). Relational Concents in Psychoanalysis Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Mittscheriich, A. (1963). Society witho.i t the FatherA CnntrihnHnn tQ Sggial Pf;y<^hology. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Worid. Mueller, C. W., and Pope, H. (1977). "Marital instability: A study of its transmission between generations," Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 39, No. 1, 83-93. Napier. A. Y. and Whitaker, C. A. (1978). The family cmcihle New York: Harper and Row. Nichols, M. P. (1984). Family Thera py Concepts and Methods New York: Gardner Press. Nichols, W. C. and Everett, C. A. (1986). Systemic Family Therapvan Integrative Approach New York: The Guilford Press.

PAGE 197

186 Olson, D. H., Portner, J., and Bell, R. Q. (1982). FACES IT: Family adaptabilit y and cohesion evaluation scales St. Paul, Minnesota: Family Social Science, University of Minnesota. Olson, D. H. (1989). Clinical rati ng scale for Circumplex Mode.] (rev. ed.). St. Paul, Minnesota: Family Social Science, University of Minnesota. Olson, D. H. (1993). "Circumplex model of marital and family systems-Assessing family functioning," In F. Walsh (Ed.). Normal Familv Processes. New York: The Guilford Press, 104-137. Osherson, (1986). Finding our Fathers: The Unfinished Business of Manhood New York: Free Press. Papero, D. V. (1990). Bowen Familv Svstems Theory Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Piercy, F. P. and Sprenkle, D. H. (1986). Familv Theraov Source Rnnlc New York: The Guilford Press. Pittman, F. S. (1992). "Why the men's movement isn't so funny," Psvchologv Today. Jan/Feb, 84-85. Pittman, F. S. (1993). Man Enough-Fathers. Sons, and the Search for Masculinity. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. Roach, A. J., Frazier, L. P., and Bowden, S. R. (1981). "The Marital Satisfaction Scale: Development of a measure for intervention research," Journal of Marriage and the Family Vol. 43, No. 4, 537-545.

PAGE 198

187 Ross, J. M. (1992). The Male Paradox New York: Simon and Schuster. Rothman, R. A. (1993). Inequality a nd Stratification: Class. Color. anH 0g"
PAGE 199

Staples, R., and Johnson, L. B. (1993). Black Families at the Crossroads. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Teyber, E. (1983a). "Effects of the parental coalition on adolescent emancipation from the family," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. Vol. 9, No. 3, 305-310. Teyber, E. (1983b). "Structural family relations: Primary dyadic alliances and adolescent adjustment," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy Vol. 9, No. 1, 89-99. Toman, W. (1988). Family Ther apy and Sibling Position New York: Jason Aronson. Towne, M., Messinger, S., and Sampson, H. (1962). "Schizophrenia and the marital family: Accomodations to symbiosis," Family Process Vol. 1, 304-318. Van Heusden A. and Eerenbeemt, E. V. D.. (1987). Balance in Motion: Naev and His Visi on of Indiyjdual and Family Therapy New York: Brunner-Mazel. Volling, B. and Belsky, J. (1992). "The contribution of mother-child and father-child relationships to the quality of sibling interaction: A longitudinal study," Child Development Vol. 63, 1209-1222. Weinberg, R. B. and Mauksch, L. B. (1991). "Examining family-oforigin influences in life at work," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy Vol. 17, No. 3, 233-242.

PAGE 200

189 West, J. D., Zarski, J. J., and Harvill, R. (1986). "The influence of the family triangle on intimacy," American Mental Health Counselors Associati on Journal Vol. 8, 166-174. Williams, D. C. (1992). "Fathers and Sons: The difference a dad can make," Insight Vol. 13, No. 1, 10-17. Williamson, D. S. (1981). "Personal authority via termination of the intergenerational hierarchical boundary: A 'new' stage in the family life cycle," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy Vol. 7, 441-452. Williamson, D. S. (1982a). "Personal authority via termination of the intergenerational hierarchical boundary: Part Il-the consultation process and the therapeutic method," Journal of Marifal and Family Therapy Vol. 8, 23-37. Williamson, D. S. (1982b). "Personal authority in family experience via termination of the intergenerational hierarchical boundary: Part Ill-personal authority defined, and the power of play in the change process," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy Vol. 8, No. 3, 309-322. Winnicott, D. W. (1957). The Child and the Family: First Relationships. London: Tavistock Publications Ltd. Winnicott, D. W. (1965). The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment. New York: International Universities Press. Wolberg, A. (1982). Psychoanaly tic Psychotherapy of the Borderlinp Patient New York: Thieme-Stratton.

PAGE 201

190 Wynne, L. C, Ryckoff, I. M., Day, S., and Hirsh, S. (1958). "Pseudomutuality in the family relations of schizophrenics," Psychiatry Vol. 21, 205-220. Wynne, L. C, and Wynne, A. R. (1986). "The quest for intimacy," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy Vol. 12, No. 4, 383-394.

PAGE 202

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Larry D. Wagoner was born in 1948 in Bedford, Indiana. Most of his early years were spent on a farm in rural Indiana. His father was a farmer and building contractor. Both parents are deceased, and he is the youngest sibling of a brother and two sisters. Larry's undergraduate work was begun at Indiana University, majoring in mathematics. He finished a B.S. degree at Oakland City College, majoring in religion and minoring in psychology. He entered church ministry with the American Baptist Churches, USA and received a M.Div. degree in 1974 from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a major in pastoral psychology. Following four years of church pastorates, Larry completed a 1974-75 residency in pastoral care and counseling at Baptist Medical Center, Amarillo, Texas. In 1975-76 Larry completed clinical supervisory training with the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education at 191

PAGE 203

192 Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana. Larry was trained in pastoral counseling, child therapy, and marriage and family therapy for three years at the Buchanan Counseling Center, Indianapolis, accredited by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Larry was certified as a clinical member by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors in 1977 and a full supervisor by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education in 1979. He worked from 1976 to 1979 as a supervisor and counselor at Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana. Larry moved in December, 1979 to Jacksonville, Florida, to take a position at Baptist Medical Center as a pastoral care and counseling supervisor. He continued counseling training at Samaritan Counseling Center, Jacksonville, and completed an M.Ed, degree in marriage and family therapy at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, Florida. Larry subsequently was certified as a fellow by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and clinical member

PAGE 204

193 and approved supervisor by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. He is a Florida licensed marriage and family therapist. Currently, Larry is the director of pastoral care and education at Baptist Medical Center, Jacksonville, Florida, a family therapist, supervisor and associate founder of Growth Pointe, P.A., Center for Family and Marital Therapy and Supervision, Jacksonville, Florida, and an adjunct faculty member at the University of North Florida, College of Health Sciences. Larry has been married to Janelle Downey Wagoner since June 6, 1970, and is the father of a daughter, Jennifer, bom 1977, and a son, Nathan, born 1980.

PAGE 205

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 4^<^J rTATr*'-'^'^^^-^ Ellen S. Amatea, Chair Professor of Counselor Education I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Peter A. D. Sherrard Associate Professor of Counselor Education I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. M. David Miller Associate Professor of Foundations of Education I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Samuel S. Hill Professor of Religion

PAGE 206

This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the College of Education and to the Graduate School and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. December, 1994 ^/^V^jg^^c.^^^ Q> /^^jj^^ccAd ^^(^j Dean, College ofyEducation Dean, Graduate School

PAGE 207

LD 1780 Il/Kfj,^''^'' FLORIDA 3 1262 08285 347 3


xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID EUFO9Q03A_45GMKY INGEST_TIME 2017-10-26T18:07:09Z PACKAGE UF00100980_00001
AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC
FILES


xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID ERTDUOA4R_080L00 INGEST_TIME 2017-07-11T21:41:11Z PACKAGE UF00100980_00001
AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC
FILES