Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Arabian Family in the Light of Minuchin's Systematic Theory: An Analytical Approach

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Arabian Family in the Light of Minuchin's Systematic Theory: An Analytical Approach

Article excerpt

This study set out to analyze Arabian family structure in the light of Minuchin's systematic theory (1974). This theory considers the family as a social system. Based on Minuchin's perspective, researchers have identified three family types for the sake of analysis and they are: Enmeshed, Disengaged and Clear family. The first two types show negative impacts on their members, while the third one has a positive impact. The study has found that the enmeshed type is dominant in Arab society, a fact that reflects various problems, such as escaping to another reality, hyperactivity, deviance, school failure and aggression. It was concluded that the first problem was related to the development of norms within the family development. The second problem was double-bind communication, which produces schizophrenic personality among children. The third problem was caused by the imbalance of power among the members. The fourth problem was marriage stability, in which four categories of marriage were produced. Recommendations and suggestions are offered to enhance the status of the Arabic family.

Family as a concept has been defined differently in terms of culture and other dimensions. It is defined as a group of individuals who are related to each other by quasi-circular relationships based on marriage or blood ties. This general system has three subsystems such as parents, children and siblings, and each subsystem has its own particular boundaries. For example: couples have their own system which differs from a siblings system (Lederer & Jackson, 1968). The existing relationships between the individuals of one system are nonlinear, but they are quasi-circular (Salameh & Abdalghafar, 1980). A family system has general characteristics. First, it develops and grows in order to accept new members (Hoffman, 1981). For example, the relationship of a newly wed couple tends to change when they have their first child as they formulate new laws to adjust to their new lifestyle (Carter & Macgolrick, 1987). A second characteristic of a family system is that the whole is more important than any of the parts (Keeney, 1970). For example, the reaction of the whole family towards certain events is more important than the reaction of each member alone.

Based on this Gestalt perspective, the opinion of an individual alone about some family events may differ from his opinion while with the family. This difference could be caused by social stresses, which are produced by the influence of the group on the individual (Salameh & Abdalghafar, 1980). Thirdly, just as with any other system, a family has common goals which guide the behaviors of its members. These goals can be achieved through members needs, such as the need to belong (Lederer & Jackson, 1968).


The Arabian family has similar needs and similar goals to the Western or Eastern family (Carter & Macgolrick, 1987). At the same time, the Arabian family has its own characteristics, which are different from other families. These characteristics stem from the Arabian culture, which has resulted from different events and conditions. The importance of these differences have, in fact, determined the behavioral style of the Arabian people. The behavior styles should help members to adapt to their social and psychological conditions (Classer 1981).

Employing the adopted theoretical analysis of numerous studies on the Arabian family, these researchers were able to identify particular features which can be summarized as follows:

* The Arabian family differs in its size from its western counterpart. The average size of the Arabian family is about 5.8 persons, while western family size is about 2.8 persons (Simadi, 2000). It is obvious that the difference is significant. The larger size of an Arabian family may lead to more interaction in relationships among members which may be reflected in the functions, tasks and laws of that family. …

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