The Taser's Edge


He’s a jujitsu rabbi with surgical skills

Maybe it’s because I’ve read so little psychology, or maybe it’s because I’ve had such a long relationship with a family (my own), but I seem to be treating Edwin H. Friedman’s Generation to Generation as if it were the Gospel.  It’s hard not to.  He just seems so wise and insightful:

“When it comes to ‘psychological’ conditions, there is an additional, more subtle reason why diagnosis inhibits change.  Analyzing another person’s being is a very slippery affair.  It is not that the traditional interpretations are wrong; it is that, at any given moment, it is almost impossible to know if one has guessed right, because, in emotional life any cause can produce exactly opposite effects, and any effect can come from completely opposite causes.  Worse, individuals are most likely to resort to diagnosis of others when their own anxiety has gone up.  In fact, a good rule of thumb is that if you catch yourself diagnosing someone else, there is probably something in you that you are trying to hide.  Recognizing these problems of objectivity, no psychiatrist would ever take his or her own spouse into therapy, yet every day husbands and wives are doing just that in the kitchen.” (Edwin Friedman, Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue, p. 57)

If you’re like me as I re-read this, you found yourself trying to sort out what he was trying to say for a while in the abstract, and then all of the sudden he was talking about you.  That’s how this guy works.  He’s a jujitsu rabbi with surgical skills.