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Can Culture Mask Emotional Processes?

Do you follow ALL the customs of your culture? Most of us are selective. I hold dear some of the values from my Greek background. We tend to select from our culture’s values, customs, and behaviors that support our own patterns whether they are healthy or problematic.

For myself I often talk the loudest about values in my culture that prevents change. I blame my culture for things I don’t want to change or have a hard time changing. “I am Greek, that is why I am overprotective of my kids!”

My culture is very important to me. I love the food, the religion, the dancing, the history, the connectedness, and the country of Greece. But I wonder if sometimes when we talk about culture, we do it so we don’t have to take responsibility for our behavior or our reactions. We each have experiences in our own families of origin and we often attribute these to our ethnic and cultural background. But more often it is just really the way our family is connected. In truth, it is not my culture that makes me anxious when my children are across the country. It is not my culture that makes me want to edit their applications.

I bet it is not your culture that stops you from marrying the partner you want. I bet it is not your culture that stops you from being the sexual, intimate being that you wish you were. As Edwin Friedman says, “ Culture does not cause family process so much as stain it and make it visible.”

If I knew all the ethnic and cultural factors of your family, I would not be able to predict the emotional health of you, your family or your family members. But if I knew the emotional processes/ differentiation processes of several generations, I bet it would be far easier to predict what is going on in your family. Maybe! What do you think?



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