This year the Navigating Systems faculty offered a three-month summer course. The focus of the course was Dr. Bowen’s The Anonymous Paper and for each session the group read one-third of the paper. Along with carefully reading and discussing Dr. Bowen’s experience, the participants shared ideas regarding the differentiation of self and the application to their personal and professional life. There were fourteen participants and three faculty actively sharing ideas. The following is a summary of one participant’s ideas. I found this is one of the funniest takes on the subject and is used with the expressed permission to circulate his ideas.
A first-hand report from the battle for differentiation of self in the age of COVID:
Differentiation of Self takes a lot of energy. Maybe that part is discussed in the next chapter of the anonymous paper. I don’t read ahead cause it’s too exhausting. Functioning at that higher level is exhausting. “You’ll need to sleep for 10 hours.” And sometimes I do. The Bowen zoom class was like a workout exhausting and invigorating at the same time. Mental system muscle building. Shifting the system.
It takes a lot of energy to actually listen to other people. And even more energy when the next person talking is a different person, and so on. Like changing TV channels every 6 minutes. And it was heavy deep stuff. Society is falling apart: discuss….
And apparently the zoom class yesterday unlocked stuff. Broke fusion. In my brain. Maybe by making my brain work or have to sit there and listen and try to comprehend. And maybe being able to just say stuff without people taking my head off. Which is nice these days. And just thinking about the multigenerational transmission process was enough to transmit energy… And I was actually able to unlock from some of the distractions. Like Bowen noticed when he was away from the office… “
And maybe that’s why I was so tired cause it takes a lot of energy to break through icebergs. Which makes sense cause my high school physics class said so. The heat of fusion. Takes a lot of energy to melt the ice. More than just changing the temperature. You have to change the state of matter too. And that’s harder work. And so, differentiation of self is like a change in the state of matter. Brain matter.