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Separation-Individuation

Cross-cultural Issues

Cross-cultural studies attest to the normality and universality of attachment (van IJzendoorn and Sagi 1999). However, there are variations within and across cultures in how attachment behaviors are viewed (Matsumoto and Lynch 1994). The achievement of separateness and independence spelled out in Mahler's theory reflects the value of a separate self, functioning independently of others, a view characteristic of Western cultures. In non-Western cultures, however, interdependence and connection to others are valued. Conscious experience focuses on the intersubjective awareness of the self with others. Self-esteem is connected to the ability to fit in and to promote cultural tasks that keep relationships harmonious. In contrast, conscious experience in Western culture focuses on the subjective awareness of the self, with less attention paid to others' subjective states. Similarly, self-esteem is tied to the achievement of individual goals. Cross-cultural perspectives shed light on how culture shapes the ways the self, in its relationship to others, is defined (Matsumoto, Kitayama, and Markus 1994).


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationshipsSeparation-Individuation - Precursors To Differentiation, The First Subphase: Differentiation, The Second Subphase: Practicing, Phase Three: Rapprochement