ERIC Number: ED225660
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-May
Reference Count: 0
Enmeshment, Differentiation, and Moral Development.
Meadow, Mary Jo
Family theorists have considered the idea of boundary in terms of the concepts of disengagement and enmeshment. Disengaged families are those having rigid, well-delineated boundaries that are often impermeable. Alternately, enmeshed families have diffuse ego boundaries, acting as if all are part of each other, and are likely to produce an apparently strong conformist moral orientation in their offspring. Loevinger and other theorists consider a conformist morality less developed than a conscientious morality. A necessary condition of attaining the advanced stage of conscientious morality is a certain measure of freedom from pressures to think like the rest of the family. But, if emotional bonding to the family is to be retained as the individual develops moral autonomy, then some differentiation of intelligence and emotion by the individual is also necessary. A differentiated person might be able to manage an enmeshed family system that would block the development of an undifferentiated person. While variable degrees of differentiation appear to be transmitted societally and multigenerationally, it appears to be the case that the more differentiated parents are, the greater the likelihood of a healthy family in which members may differentiate and establish autonomous personhood. (Concluding material briefly offers five ideas combining concepts in the preceding discussion that are thought to be easily translated into research hypotheses.) (RH)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Bowen (Murray); Conscientiousness; Differentiation; Ego Development Theory; Loevinger (Jane); Structural Family Theory
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association (44th, Minneapolis, MN, May 6-8, 1982).