Monday, August 15, 2022

Social Crisis?

I have just finished a class in Family Systems Theory, and have been doing some further reading. Essentially this theory, also called Bowen Theory after its founder, Murray Bowen, indicates that we are part of a system, and we operate as part of a system. As one person in a system changes, we react to that change, and the whole system changes. I find this very interesting in that when we change, we can change the system. I can use this in counseling people to help them realize they can change the family by changing how they react in the family.

One of the concepts in Family Systems Theory is that the theory also works to affect the emotional processes in society as a whole, not just members of a family or work system. To support this concept on a society wide basis, Roberta Gilbert, in her book, “The Eight Concepts of Bowen Theory,” Gilbert suggests that we are in a period of social regression. To support this, she brings out some interesting statistics:

In 1940 the teachers in California were polled to find out what they considered the most troublesome problems they faced. The results were: Talking, Chewing gum, Making noise, Running in the halls, Getting out of line, Wearing improper clothing, and Not putting paper in the wastebasket.

Again, in 1990, fifty years later, they were polled. This time the answers were quite different: Drug Abuse, Alcohol abuse, Pregnancy, Suicide, Rape, Robbery, Assault.

In fifty years our society has changed a great deal if the schools are any indication.

Consider also that between 1963 and 1993 the crime rate went up 360%, youth crime is up 200%, teen pregnancy is up 600% and teen suicide is up 300% (now the second most important cause of death in teens, after accidents). One in five teens attempted suicide, single parents increased by 300%, SAT scores are down 7% and drug use is up over 1,000%.

These statistics show an overall deterioration in our society. If the theory is correct, and we are in a time of social regression, what can do about it? We’ll look at Gilberts ideas in tomorrow’s post…

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