ABSTRACT

This chapter focuses on the author’s efforts to bridge secondary emotional cutoff as part of his work on differentiating a self. In an earlier publication, “Reaction to Death in a Family” (Titelman, 1987) he described his work on fusion in his family of origin, particularly the fusion with his mother in the context of the parent-child triangle. The following is excerpted from the end of that chapter:

By the time I wrote the paper in 1979, I perceived my family as fused, but less cohesive and containing more covert conflict than was indicated by the myth of family harmony. However, it was not until the last few years that I was able to see, based on a better understanding of family systems theory and increased acquisition of multigenerational data, that my fused family of origin was, in fact, a small splinter branch of an explosive family that was characterized by major emotional cutoff with the paternal extended family. . . . In this case I link the cutoffs within my paternal extended family to the cohesive, emotionally fused character of my immediate family of origin. (Titelman, 1987, p. 345)

The past twenty years involved a shift in the author’s focus from the family of origin and the family of procreation to the family as a multigenerational emotional unit; from a focus on the primary triangle, parents and self, to a focus on interlocking triangles including the family of procreation, the family of origin, and the larger extended family; from a focus on fusion to a focus on the interlocking relationship between fusion and cutoff.