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The Psychology of Family

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The Psychology of Family Interactions


The second branch would however be about the family relationships, the basic psychological and emotional nuances of family members, their interactions and interrelationships, the emotions of love and trust and the functions or role of family in an individual's life. This branch would emphasize on family relationships and the psychological basis of emotional interaction in the family and how this relates to the outer world. This branch also studies how our family patterns and relationships closely affects our interactions in the outside world and how we behave in the community, society and the world. This branch of psychology is also related closely to issues of existentialism and phenomenology in philosophy as with the family, man does not feel completely lonely or isolated in the world as existentialism would claim but rather develop a sense of belongingness and through family humans first relate to the outside world. The family is thus the stepping stone, the first stage on which we begin our learning about the world. This is also an important part of child development studies. In addition to the theories of Freud, Maslow, Lewin and Sartre, the theories of Erik Erikson in which the stages of man from birth to death show why humans form relationships, could well explain the dynamics of family interactions and relationships. Erikson has also been elaborated in another essay, but briefly in Erikson's theory humans go through eight stages in psychosocial development from hope and trust in infancy to integrity or despair in old age.


On the one hand we study changing family patterns and in some cases comparisons are drawn within cultural studies as families in different cultures could have different patterns and structures. For example large families are still prevalent in Eastern societies although this is becoming almost extinct in western more individualistic societies. With marriage rates falling drastically and people preferring to remain single, the study of the family structure and its gradual change could help us analyze and predict future patterns in family as well. Will the family system become slowly extinct with individualistic societies showing a decline in the number of members within a family? It could be predicted that a few hundred years from now, individualistic single member families would become a norm worldwide and this could further lead to isolation, loneliness and a need to emotionally connect that would see humans forming large groups or herds or close communities once again. These will however be the ultra urban, technologically superior tribes, possibly space travelling nomads, like we see herds or groups of aliens in movies related to alien culture and UFOs. Aliens who are considered superior to us and possibly reside in UFOs are always shown or seen in groups or herds as you will notice. Ever wondered why the aliens are always in groups or herds? Possibly they have passed through all the evolutionary stages of humans and thus are more evolved than us. The future is possibly a return to the past, to formation of tribes, groups, herds and communities, rather than small families. I don't claim to believe in UFOs and aliens but this is possible and is based on speculation but the evolution of the structure of family systems would also depend on how our emotional needs for interactions and relationships change or evolve.


Apart from the theories of Maslow (safety/love needs), Freud (basic drives), Existentialism (loneliness) Lewin (Group formation) that could be related to the need for family structures, the psychology of family will have to gauge human emotions in different family situations and this would be about child and adult development considering theories of Erikson (life stages), Freud (on sexuality) and the reinforcement of positive emotions (Skinner/Pavlov) which would explain family relationships.

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Saberi Roy is a writer/poet/analyst/political commentator/psychologist and writes on science, arts, psychology, religions, politics and philosophy. She has Masters degrees in Philosophy (MA), in Psychology (MSc) and in Consciousness Studies with QM (more...)
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