Article excerpt


In this article we explore the role of philosophy and discomfort anxiety for promoting family well-being. Various important theoretical ideas are briefly presented and integrated and then a case example is discussed, based on discomfort anxiety.

Note: The editors hereby apologize for the unwitting attribution of the article named "The Pre-marital Conversation", published in volume VI, No. 1, March 2006 of the Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies to Dr. James McMahon. The above-named text was developed by Tamara Ranck for premarital classes at The Guidance Center, Southgate, Michigan, 2005.

Key words: discomfort anxiety, family well-being

In a chapter written for the text Critical Thinking About Psychology (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2005, Editors Slife, Reber, and Richardson), John Chambers Christopher of Montana State University offered, "Moral Values of Developmental Psychology" (pp 207-232). Christopher's major criticisms of developmental theory were threefold:

1. theories such as those from Freud, Piaget, Erickson, and Bowlby, inter alia, treated the child as a bounded isomorph whose progress from birth onward could be measured in stages (i.e. a linear self);

2. theorists read into child development from the vantage point of an adult (i.e. adult values were superimposed upon a child who was not able developmentally to engage the adult speculations);

3. no child is an isomorph or strictly bounded organism as in Mahler- Klein's individuation-separation since each child used language that was learned socially and since each child reflected behavior before, e.g., age 4 that worked to meet basic satisfactions encouraged by the family or group in which the child found him or herself, and who reflected more "age appropriate" behavior involving identity and abstraction to gain acceptance and progress in later years. The early behavior can be categorized as motor and cognitive reactive, while the latter can be described as sensory and cognitive active.

Chambers, instead of focusing upon linear studies as found in cognitive psychology, neuroscience, or behaviorism-studies necessary to advance a science of psychology-argued for holism. Individual differences could be contained within a social system such as a family while the family functioned to help a child's inborn talents penetrate into the environment. This argument then suggested the philosophical arguments THESES called relational ontology (relationship as the primary given or epistemology for humankind) from Martin Buber and Abraham Levinas concerning family development.

Buber, the Jewish philosopher who preferred negotiated settlements rather than force as suggested by other advocates of Zionism, argued for I-Thou (or ich und du). As you create me, I create you. Thus, strictly speaking, there is no fixed me or fixed you. A child influences his or her parents as much as the other way around. Witness Abraham Maslow's epiphany. He had been brutalized as a child, went to Wisconsin to study behaviorism, and married there. It was after becoming a father to a female child that his life was changed. He loved her, he watched her, and he learned from her while she softened him and helped to disabuse him of the hatred he had for his mother (he has refused to attend his mother's funeral). Maslow left a stage theory of development from physiological to self-actuation needs that could generously be referred to as "elitist", but humanist elitist since it reflected the cream-rising effect rather than that of cooperation as argued for by Jean Bakker Miller and the Stone Center Group at Wellesly (cooperation and dependence are normative in this revisionist view of social psychoanalysis), or as argued for by the late Pope John Paul II in his encyclicals concerning family life prescinding from the Natural Law that human beings are communitarian as intended by the Creator.

Abraham Levinas left his native land after invasion by the Soviet Union to reside in France. …


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