“From Dependence to Independence to Interdependence, Part 1” Comments, Page 1

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10 Comments (One Discussion Thread) on “From Dependence to Independence to Interdependence, Part 1”

  1. I think the emphasis on independence is a pretty recent Western invention, not even that widespread if you look at all the cultures around the world. It tends to go along with individualism not to mention capitalism.

    It’s a cultural value that comes up in therapy a lot, e.g. where I practice clients do not tend to define independence as a goal. I have had to adjust my assumptions quite a bit. There is also plenty of feminist theory pointing to the fact that women define themselves in a more relational way.

    We are all interdependent and interconnected, thinking we are anything else is an illusion which sometimes feels good and sometimes causes a lot of unecessary pain.

  2. Hi Sarah,

    I very much agree. I think this spins out into big philosophical questions – that we are social/tribal organisms, that we are our culture, that compassion (the ability to share experience) is part of the essence of humanity.

    I’ve only lived in western cultures and so only have experience of those cultures where individualism isn’t so highly valued at second hand. If you’d like to say more about the differences I’d be really interested.

  3. I think the first time I felt that type of culture shock was when travelling alone in Morocco. For me it was an important kind of rite of passage to do it alone,I was proving and exercising my newfound autonomy, independence, self-sufficiency… and there I was drowned in sympathy at every turn – poor me, did I not have a sister to come with me? My explanations were totally incomprehensible to everyone I met and I started to feel as if I came from another planet.

    With clients from a different culture so many times I have felt the reflex to tell people to just move *out* of their dysfunctional families/communities, and it was not the answer for them at all, was not even on the radar. The definition of self included the family or group, so removing themselves would have been senseless.

    Here in Poland I can see that sense of self changing before my very eyes along with ‘westernisation’/capitalism. The generation gap is huge and people are pulled in all directions!

  4. Thanks Sarah.

    The idea of the self including the family or group is a big one. Quite a challenge to our western/capitalist individualism – about which I have very mixed feelings (to underestimate things more than somewhat).

    I think our idea of self in the Western/capitalist countries is probably more group/family defined than we like to admit. Me and my partner are about to move cities to be closer to family. Do you think the people in Poland are more individualist than they admit? Even in the US a best-seller asks the question: Who ever died wishing they had spend more time at the office?

    Could you say more about how people are pulled in different directions? Grounding these things in individual details brings them alive I think.

  5. :-) oh yes I’m all for individual details when I’m not the one who has to recall and retell them! A generalisation takes soooo much less time and energy ;-)

    back tomorrow!

  6. Hi All,

    I tend to think we are much more dependant in everyday life. We drive down the road trusting all the vehicles to drive properly and most often they do. We go throughout our day dependant on others for each days needs. We if we took the time to acknowledge it are never really independant though we like to think that way….More so I think when we are not with our families framework that’s when we call it independant….. a freedom to choose without checking in on the tribe so to speak… Yet during our day out there we are connecting to other families…. in all that we do.

    I love the concept of interdependance it feels more natural and true to me…. It feels more true to what is…. And it doesn’t feel it has to be attained it just is…

  7. Hi Diane,

    I think you are right. The next post in this series deals with what I mean by “independence”. Hope you like it – look forward to any comments that you may have.

  8. What strikes me about these posts, is the high level of intellectual independence of the authors. And you seem to take it for granted not realizing that in many cultures, you would be treated as a criminal for having a mind of your own. So called “community” in these cultures is in reality a abusive cult. And if you look up abusive cults on the internet, it doesn’t just apply to religious groups. It applies to any group eg political party, work environment, family life and even some one on one relationships. To various degrees, people in abusive cults are treated as children and told what to think and feel. Healthy dependence/interdependence rests upon true intellectual independence. This is what’s meant by “western individualism”. Even the label is dishonest, ignoring that it’s inbuilt into nature, rather than being a arbitrary construct. Otherwise what you are describing is slavery to the group.

    1. Hi Ken, thanks for your comment. I do think that our individuality is in built from nature (as is our need for connection). I believe these two needs are reconciled through intimacy.

      I’m well aware too (from many an experience) that being different is not always welcomed. It is a rare place where all of us is accepted. Even in the West where we are meant to be in favour of individualism this is often not the case. I think the dominant religion in our culture is ‘the almightly dollar’. People are expected to work in particular ways because money says so and our individuality is not meant to interfere.

      My belief is that our uniqueness is valuable and that we can have relationships where each person is affirmed for and encouraged in their uniqueness.

      Thanks for your comment, you raise a lot of very important issues. Please feel free to comment further if you wish – there may be lots of stuff to pursue here I think.

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