Exploratory Research Questions

The following stems from the problems stated in Can Human Behavior Become a Science?.

I am in a creative phase of exploratory research for my dissertation, expanding my understanding of pertinent problem domains in order to hone in on a research question and it’s respective hypotheses. The following are questions that will guide my research. The goal is to be able to answer them in writing and not just in my mind. References are a plus. Not all of them need to be answered in the end but the list will provide a little pragmatism through this otherwise intuitive phase of search in the dark.

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Can Human Behavior Become a Science?

I am happy to have finally read Bowen’s epilogue to Micheal Kerr’s (1988) book, which I am calling the “Odyssey chapter.” In it, Bowen outlines his opinions and assumptions that guided his seminal research project at NIMH, and includes his critique of “science” in the “social sciences.” This chapter provided more stock in my sense that Goenka’s particular dispensation of the Buddha’s teachings as “pure science” share something unique with Bowen’s attitude toward theory.

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Accounting For Varying Attachment Presentations

This literature review aims to provide a chronological overview of peer-reviewed research which assess the capability of attachment theory to account for the variance in an individual’s presentation of attachment styles in different social contexts. It stands on the assumption that an individual may present, for example avoidant with one person and anxious with another, and asks what variables account for such variance. This review hypothesizes that this variance exists and is accounted by variables outside the current scope of attachment theory. It was found in research spanning from 2002 to 2016 that attachment style has a limited capacity to account for triadic attachment dilemmas, that a secure dyadic presentation may morph to an insecure triadic presentation, and that attachment style may in fact be a part of the systemic concept of differentiation of self as mediated by triangulation in the nuclear family. This review did not directly produce a concept which accounts for variations in attachment presentation, but suggests triangulation mediated by differentiation of self as a possibility for future research.

 

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A Bowen/Vipassanā Perspective on Societal Emotional Process

There is so much pain experienced after this election. Those who “lost” the election are experiencing fear, confusion, and depression, and at times ignorance of the dire situation that drove the “victors” to vote the way that they did. Those who “won” the election are so elated by their victory that they are at times ignoring the factors driving the intense fear in the opposition. In times of such unrest, it can help to work to understand the processes that created the situation in order to help us cope and influence these processes for the better. One way of understanding our political climate is through Bowen theory and lessons learned through the practice of vipassanā.

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Dissertation Topic: Bowen and Vipassanā

My idea for a dissertation topic is a conglomeration of ideas that make up my world view and personal psychology. It is an integration of what seems to be the most important forces governing our lives.

The idea is simple: to find a literary correlation showing that Murray Bowen was getting at the same thing as the historical Buddha. Bowen’s construct of differentiation of self in Family Systems Theory could equal the Buddha’s construct of equanimity in Vipassanā. If true, this could provide a key bridge between the science of the West and millennia of wisdom of the East. The implications are vast, and worthy of a book let alone a dissertation.

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Attachment and Differentiation

I’ve always wondered exactly how attachment theory fit into Bowen Theory. For example, how does Bowen reconcile the similar sibling attachment styles described in Attachment Theory? How would Attachment Theory describe “unresolved symbiosis with the primary caregiver?” Writing this paper gave me the chance to find out.

EDIT: This paper is followed by Accounting for Varying Attachment Presentations, which follows up with a tighter examination of the topic using peer-reviewed studies and includes more details about what can and cannot be compared between the two theories.

Attachment and Differentiation: The Role of Attachment in the Pathological Family System

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Tolkien’s Depths

How Jungian of him. This, the “Hithlum passage,” from Morgoth’s Ring as well as Quenta Silmarillion:

But the cry of Morgoth in that hour was the greatest and most dreadful cry that was ever heard in the northern wold: the mountains shook, and the earth trembled, and rocks were riven asunder. Deep in forgotten places that cry was heard. Far beneath the halls of Angband, in vaults to which the Valar in the haste of their assault had not descended, the Balrogs lurked still, awaiting ever the return of their lord. Swiftly they arose, and they passed with winged speed over Hithlum, and the came to Lammoth as a tempest of fire.

There are other passages in QS that echo this reach into the depths. But I can’t remember them now.

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The Process of Spring

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I hope I don’t get in trouble for copyright violation with these little snippets. Hopefully this site will get such little traffic that the message will get across to interested parties without causing problems!

I like this little passage from the forward of The History of Middle Earth part three, where Christopher is pointing out a period of pronounced creativity for his Father, followed by a satisfaction of a job well done having completed a part of his “task”. So what was the task? Why pour hours and weeks and years into such a rich and deep project? Surely there is something in the process that yields more than just a nice story to tell your kids? In the same way, why am I constantly pulled back to reading the majesty of the Valar and tragedy of the elves and mysteries of Men? So far, reading The History seems to give a little more insight into that process.

I am interested in Tolkien’s process and purpose of writing as much as the content of his stories. For me, finding the underlying meaning of the images and their effect and applicability in my life is really what it’s all about. Although I confess that reading Tolkien also provides a nice and entertaining break from other psychological reading while retaining plenty of fuel for intuitive analysis.

It takes a lot of extra energy to extract answers to those questions from the Tolkiens’ work while Jung and Campbell address them directly. But for some reason Tolkien senior seems to provide the best content for practicing the type of dissection and analysis that can be learned from people like Jung and Campbell.

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