Intimate Worlds:: Life Inside the Family

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9780394565439: Intimate Worlds:: Life Inside the Family

The distinguished author of Unfinished Business and Intimate Partners now takes readers inside the complex worlds of the family to explore all of the factors that go into the formation and functioning of a family at different periods in its life. Line drawings.

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From Booklist:

So many Americans are now worried about family values that this self-help book on family intimacy is sure to find a large audience. What readers will find here is not only a sophisticated typology of family types (chaotic, polarized, rule-bound, adequate, and optional), but also a therapeutic agenda for improving home life. Although Scarf draws extensively from the professional literature, she develops her key points through narrative portrayals of some of the 50 families she interviewed in researching this book. The importance of family history emerges as a primary theme: most of us subconsciously reenact family scripts learned from parents and grandparents. When unrecognized, these scripts can trap us in conflict, abuse, or resentment; yet when consciously identified, they can be edited and rewritten. Scarf explains how, in her case, as in many others, coming to terms with family history means learning to forgive family members, an admittedly difficult task. The author's candor and sensitivity ensure that numerous readers will find her a trustworthy guide to a more rewarding family life. But some readers will detect the deficiencies inherent in the self-help genre. For instance, although Scarf gives readers advice for assessing their own family's weaknesses, she ignores the broader cultural trends making family life more fragile then ever before. Without an analysis of such cultural trends, those who proffer self-help formulas may be setting readers up for failure. Bryce Christensen

From Publishers Weekly:

How families shape each member's expectations, patterns of emotional reactivity, self-acceptance or self-hatred is the theme of Scarf's enlightening report. Combining interpretive analysis and case studies, and distilling a large body of research and clinical experience, the book should be as popular as her bestselling studies of marriage (Intimate Partners) and women and depression (Unfinished Business). Scarf found that many families are gripped by unconscious fantasies, unquestioned assumptions that result in the playing out of old agendas derived from parents' own pasts. She explores the maladaptive strategies that many families employ, such as scapegoating (sacrificing one family member to keep the family's operating system intact) and emotional triangling, an evasive maneuver to deflate escalating tensions in a two-way relationship. Scarf identifies five types of families, ranging from severely disturbed to polarized to optimal, and she organizes her material around this framework, a scale that was devised by psychiatrist W. Robert Beavers in the mid-1970s. Special attention is paid to the effects on a family of alcoholism, eating disorders, incest and sexual infidelity. Included are "tasks," or therapeutic exercises, designed to strengthen familial bonds. This is a resource for families trying to improve communication, to deal with anger, frustration, ambivalence. Author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Random House, New York, 1995. Hard Cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition (stated). FIRST PRINTING of the First Edition (stated). An interesting analysis of the structure and function of the family unit in human society, discussing the ways in which families actually operate and how family life can be improved, with numerous individual examples studied and pondered; contains appendices, bibliography, index. Hardcover with dust jacket, 466pp. A very nice copy. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 00003292

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