Systematic thinking has helped to understand people’s way of thinking as well as assist them in solving many social problems that they face. Psychology has been in so many ways used to treat many mental illnesses. Psychiatrists should therefore be open-minded so as to give therapeutic help to those who need their services. A family is considered as a system of interrelated parts which influence one another (Sigeman and Rider, 2008).
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The role of an individual in a family or in a society therefore serves to influence their emotional status. Emotional distress is believed to result from the interaction of people in the family. When treating distressed patients it is required that the members of the family or those who matter most in the patient’s life be integrated or considered in the therapy (Carter & Mcolgrick, 1999).
Family therapy seeks to understand an individual’s behavior in the societal context. Families are governed by strict and unendorsed rules which theorists’ advise against being too easy or too hard on the family members (Toman, 1976). Therapy strives to change the entire+ family system and makes developments which are therefore better and long-lasting in the family. This paper will discuss the movie, Not Easily Broken and the intergenerational model as well as the main issue addressed in the movie.
The movie: Not Easily Broken
This film was released in 2009 and was directed by Duke Bill. The film was written by Bird Brian based on T.D. Jakes’ novel not easily broken published in 2006. The 99 minutes long movie stars Morris Chestnut (Dave), Taraji Henson (Clarice), Maeve Quinlan (Julie), Kevin Hart (Tree), Wood Harris (Gooden), Eddie Cibrian (Brock) the other characters in the plot are Bryson, Michelle, and Bishop Wilkes amongst others.
Clarice and Dave have been married for over ten years. Dave heads a construction firm that is rather small. Clarice is a successful career woman who deals with real estate agencies. Dave dreams of becoming a professional baseball player were shattered after he had a fateful accident in college. Clarice is too absorbed in her career that she forgets her wifely duties of fulfilling her husband’s needs especially that of becoming a father and starting a family with Clarice. Dave and Clarice are married, deeply in love and very relatable.
They deal with waves of disruptions, monotony and diverging goals. Their love is tested when Clarice is involved in a car accident makes the couple re-evaluate their relationships; it also shifts the bonds and almost leads to a break up. The accident grasp on Dave and Clarice as they have to adapt to a new way of interaction that is completely different to what they are used to. The financial constraints they face as well as the emotional disputes and physical difficulties impacts them so much that their love is jeopardized.
Mary the mother of Clarice moves in to help care for her. Mary’s meddling character results into a series of dramas, at one time she blames Dave for being responsible for Clarice’s fatal injury and crushed career. The help of Julie, a physical therapist is warmly embraced; Julie helps Clarice with her therapy. Bryson the son of Julie and other boys are trained by Dave in the little baseball league. Julie and Dave become very fond of each other; Julie offers him a lot of comfort and acceptance.
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This makes Dave want a family of his own and a caring partner. The attention he receives from Julie makes them grow more and more apart from Clarice. Their marriage is on the verge of collapsing when they decide to face their situation. Dave realizes that it is Clarice he wants when he kisses Julie. They resolve their marriage issues and Dave finds out that Clarice is pregnant.
Their vows are therefore not easily broken as they fight for the love they have for each other and their marriage do not seem to crumble because many couples would do were they faced with such situations that threaten the happiness of a family.
I will be discussing the issue of meddling mothers in this paper. Mary is an example of such when she goes, to care for Clarice they are seen getting into fights as she constantly conflicts with Dave and Clarice. Clarice blames her for not having taught her on some important issues in life such as love and family matters. Mary is seen cheering Clarice on to be more of a career woman and she is devastated when the accident threatens her career.
She moves in to care for Clarice which is an act of care and love at a time when Dave and Clarice need more time alone to reflect on the best actions to take. According to Toman, (1978) Clarice and Dave are at the breaking point of their marriage when they learn that their wedding vows are however not that breakable after all.
Intergenerational model lays much emphasis on one’s family of origin as well as each member of the family. The model connects generations of families to effect change. The intergenerational model is also referred to as the Bowen family systems theory. Murray Bowen, a professor in psychiatry at the Georgetown University pioneered the systematic family therapy back in the 1950s.Bowen developed this theory while he worked at the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland.
He did his research on parents whose grown-up kids suffered from schizophrenic. His model integrated certain concepts which interlocked the model. Bowen was certain that many family problems stem from intergenerational processes, where different levels vary from one a family member to the other. His model aims at increasing the level of differentiation between family members (Bowen, 1976).
The concepts of Bowel’s model
The intergenerational model incorporated eight concepts namely:
Bowel noted that when a conflict stems between two people one of the parties involved triangles in on another person (Kerr & Bowen, 1988). Every time people are anxious about something they tend to shift it to the third party.
A flawless example can be when a husband conflicts with his wife and instead of resolving the situation the wife may decide to shift her focus more on their children or the husband may decide to spend more time at work or hang out with his friends. Positions of the parties are bound to change especially in times of amplified anxiety when both parties opt out.
This is the character displayed by certain family members who isolate themselves from their families or family of origin. To achieve the emotional cut-off they rarely go home, avoid discussion of sensitive issues with their family members, divert conversations or choose to go silent. This creates a lot of tension in a relationship due to communication breakdown. Having an open relationship therefore reduces the magnitude of family issues (Bowen, 1976).
Differentiation of self
This is the ability of an individual to balance between emotional and intellectual functionalities; independence and intimacy; distance and dearness in a relationship. Individuals with low differentiation levels are prone to emotional distress. Those who are highly differentiated on the contrary never hold grudges or build bitterness instead they are respectable of people’s ideologies and are contented when they affirm their ideas (Bowen, 1976).
This refers to the extent to which individualism and differences are put up with in a family. Family members with high differentiation act with compassion and receptivity towards one another which cultivates closeness in a family. Low differentiated family members are viewed as being indecisive and disrespectful of the other family members. In such families dysfunctional strategies such as triangulation are used to solve conflicts (Kerr & Bowen, 1988).
Multigenerational transmission process
Bowen noted that differentiation issues and unsettled emotional attachments get reenacted in forthcoming family lineages.
Societal emotional process
This explains how too much societal anxiety can result into decreased levels of differentiation. When faced with a tragedy families cling together which could lead to decreased individual progression.
The other concepts include sibling position and family projection process. The model enables therapeutic patients to connect emotionally with the rest of the family by developing open relationships. Bowenian therapists encourage patients to return to their families of origin and make contact with them.
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The therapist seeks to know the family diagram and draws a genogram, this helps to obtain the history of the family members in three generational interfaces. From the genogram the biological and emotional processes in the family lineage are clearly outlined (Bowen, 1976).
Analysis of the Family Situation in the Movie in Relation to the Bowenian Model
The film evolves around a married couple. Dave and Clarice have been married for more than 10 years with no children. Dave and Clarice are deeply in love and they are committed to making their relationship work under all circumstances. Dave desires to start up a family but Clarice is very committed to her career. After Clarice is involved in the accident their relationship is strained as they are faced with financial and physical limitations.
The conflict leads to Dave finding comfort in Julie who is Clarice’s physical therapist. Dave enjoys the company of Julie and Bryson he very much admires the family unit that the two share. Julie shows Dave compassion which he lacks with Clarice who is too absorbed in her career. Dave and Clarice with time become very distant while Julie and Dave become very close as Julie is seen running to Dave whenever she is faced with a situation (Flax, 1990).
The triangulate model is sometimes is true way for family experiences difficulties in relations. Hence, when a couple quarrels and cannot come to an agreement, both seek a friend, or a person, who is able to support and advise. In this respect, when Clarice is paralyzed the accident, her mother intervenes and creates even more problems to the married couple. Hence, Dave is more likely to socialize with Julie whereas Clarice needs to visit a physical therapist.
This situation presents the idea that both Clarice and Dave needs conform and support which cannot be found among their friends. Moreover, Clarice’s mother even makes the relations even more complex. Later on Clarice recognizes a significant impact on the emerged misconceptions has been imposed by her mother. However, mother’s interference cannot be congruent with the concept of triangulation because she does not contribute positively to understanding the nature of conflicts between Dave and Clarice.
In whole, intergenerational confrontation does not contribute to better understanding and resolving the conflict (Fischer, 1981). When their open relationship comes to a near dead end, they begin to contemplate breaking up. There is emotional cut-off between the couple and Dave is seen spending much time out of their household. This intensifies their family issue and isolates them further each day (Flax, 1990).
Differentiation is portrayed in the family; there are cases of low differentiation levels. When Dave and his wife use triangulation to solve their conflicts, this worsens the situation at all times. The situation also comes critical when Clarice’s mother decides to visit her daughter as she fails to understand the family problems.
High level of differentiation is illustrated when they decide to talk about the issues facing their marriage. This promotes togetherness in their family after they reconcile. Dave is very excited when he learns that they are expecting a child, news that he has been waiting to her for the longest time this also implies a lot self-differentiation (Kerr & Bowen, 1988).
By including Dave and Clarice the sense of a family unit is brought up which is what the therapy model revolves around. Mary was included to show some part of Clarice’s family diagram that is very important to the therapist as it allows him/her to draw out the genogram.
Mary and Bryson are included to display the intergenerational model. Julie and her son, Bryson have been used to show the elective family that distracts Dave from his family of origin which is that of Clarice and him. The Bowenian model emphasizes on returning to the family of origin which is what he does when he realizes that Clarice is the woman he loves.
I would suggest that the family adapts a high level of differentiation to help them get used to each other. Low level of differentiation leads to isolation, defensiveness and withdrawal. A family gets to enjoy the benefits of solving their problems by talking openly about them and how they feel about their situation.
In this case, there should be a clear distinction between emotional and intellectual functioning of the self from the family. The couple should realize the needs and problems of each other. Clarice should think less of her career and differentiate from family (Marks et al., 2008). At the same time, Dave should listen to the problems that his wife encounters.
The other suggestion is diminution of anxiety; Clarice accident increased the anxiety and emotion vulnerability of the family members. To resolve these family members can engage in other activities so as to try to forget their predicament, it is best that a client deals with his fears head on because if left to soar they can lead to bitterness. The family should therefore visit a psychiatrist who will guide them on the best mode of action to take to deal with the abrupt change of the situation in their home.
The last suggestion I would offer is for the family to face their past and future according to the intergenerational model people interact in the way their parents interacted. Behavioral patterns carry on from one generation to the next. This carries on to marriage, when a couple decides to face their past so as to create new and more gratifying ways of living. The family learns to separate their thoughts from their feelings which help them to act with individualism in their relationships (Kalmuss & Debra, 1994).
Bowen, M. (1976). The theory in the practice of psychotherapy. In P.J. Guerin (Ed.), family therapy: Theory and practice. New York: Gardner press.
Carter, B., & Mcgoldrick, M. (1999). The expanded family life cycle: Individual, family and social perspectives (3rd Ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon
Fischer, R. L. (1981). Transitions in the Mother-Daughter Relationship. Journal of Marriage and Family. 43 (3), 613-622.
Flax, J. (1990). Thinking fragments, psychoanalysis, feminisms and post modernism in the contemporary west. Berkley, CA: University of California press
Kalmuss, D. (1994). The intergenerational Transmission of Marital Aggression. Journal of marriage and the family, 11-19
Kerr, M., & Bowen, M. (1988). Family evaluation. New York: Norton.
Marks, L. D., Hopkins, K., Chaney, C., Monroe, P. A., Nesteruk, O., and Sasser, D. D. (2008, April). Together, We Are Strong: A Quantitative Study of Happy, Enduring African American Marriages. Family Relations. 57, 172-185.
Sigeman, C. K. and Rider, E. A. (2008). Life-Span Human Development. US: Cengage Learning. Toman, W. (1976) Family constellation: Its effects on personality and social behavior (3rd Ed.). New York: Springer