Family System Perspective and Handling Depression
As Nichols and Schwartz point out (2000, p. 132), "the issue of family complicity" in the scope and limit and character of individual experience has been identified as decisive by some theorists and as marginally relevant vis--vis the dominant culture by others. But so much analysis of the dynamics of interaction between individuals and their surroundings has revealed the multiplicity of agency in neuroses and emotions that it is difficult not to accept that depression can feed and be fed by family dynamics. For example, even if, in the nuclear-family context, one accepts Bowen's view of the "absence of differentiation of self" (Nichols & Schwartz, 2000, p. 118), or failure of reason over emotion, as the principal source of an individual's depression, one need not go far for Bowen's hypothesis of the "undifferentiated family ego mass" and see that there may be plenty of destructive emotion, and perhaps even depression, to go around in a family, thus making it difficult for one individual member to break the cycle of depression.

Indeed, as Bowen explains elsewhere (1978), failure of an individual to make (rational) choices in behavior or attitude that have the effect of allowing differentiation from this ego mass, or alternatively, the fusion of subject with the family mass, may foster pathology or indeed schizophrenia if the way in which the family functions as a whole is pathological or dys

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