We live at a time in human history that psychiatrist Murray Bowen described as a time of “societal regression”. Human functioning is guided more by subjectivity, opinion and feeling than fact. Observable facts are commonly exchanged for feeling driven “alternative facts” at the drop of a hat, in marriages, families, organizations, at all levels of society, and at all points on the political spectrum. This allows people to gain comfort in relationships at the expense of facts. Part of this is that we live at a time in history when world-wide population is growing exponentially. The median age keeps rising; more and more people get older and older; there are fewer and fewer frontiers; there is less and less habitable land; the availability of resources is less and less. Bowen noted that our “instinctual radar” rather than our logical thinking responds anxiously to all of this.
The cornerstone concept of Bowen theory is differentiation of self, bringing logical thinking to charting a course for self in one’s personal and professional relationships, allowing others to do the same while maintaining viable relationships with them. On the last page of his just published “Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom”, journalist Thomas Ricks writes: “The fundamental driver of Western civilization is the agreement that objective reality exists, that people of goodwill can perceive it and that other people will change their views when presented with the facts of the matter.” It is assumed that the effort to differentiate a self in one’s personal and professional relationships over a lifetime is one high road to realizing this.
This meeting will focus on the fact that more and more people on “spaceship earth” are getting older and older in the context of all of the other facts that go into societal regression, while considering how differentiation of self changes things when added to this mix. A goal is that logical thinking will be brought to bear to these instinctively known and feeling guided phenomena.
After graduate training in social work at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Dr. Papero entered postgraduate training in family systems theory and psychotherapy at the Georgetown University Family Center. In 1982, Dr. Bowen invited him to join the faculty of the Georgetown University Family Center. He has written numerous articles and book chapters on various aspects of family systems theory and family psychotherapy and, in 1990, published a basic introduction to family systems, Bowen Family Systems Theory. He serves on the editorial board of Family Systems and of the Family Business Client. He currently gives between fifteen and twenty invited presentations yearly to various professional groups across the country on topics related to family systems theory, family psychotherapy, and the functioning of corporations and organizations. In recent years he has consulted increasingly with organizations in both the private and public sectors about the impact of relationships on functioning and about the emotional process of organizations. Dr. Papero maintains his consulting practice in Washington, DC.