Differentiation (Being Your Own Person)

“… we emerge from our family or origin at about the highest level of differentiation our parents achieved.  Our basic level of differentiation is pretty much established by adolescence and can remain at that level for life.  In the process of regulating their own emotions, poorly differentiated parents pressure their children for togetherness or distance, which stops children from developing their ability to think, feel, and act for themselves.  They learn to conduct themselves only in reaction to others.”  (p. 69)

“By now the paradoxes of differentiation should be clear:  while differentiation allows us to set ourselves apart from others and determines how far apart we sit, it also opens the space for true togetherness.  It’s about getting closer and more distinct-rather than more distant.”


From the book Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch, PhD