Intimate Worlds

Maggie Scarf, Author, Scarf, Author Random House (NY) $25 (466p) ISBN 978-0-394-56543-9
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. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995
Release date: 01/01/1995
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 978-0-517-19877-3
Paperback - 508 pages - 978-0-345-40667-5
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