According to McGoldrick recognizing these repeated patterns in families can help individuals understand and deal with them today, potentially combating their effects. The work is noted as a guide to dealing with unresolved grief. Though the work is informative, it would also seem to be rather destabilizing in that it points out so many flaws in familes and then tells the modern individual that if they do not react, and quickly these problems of significance may be continually repeated in the subsequent generations.
The last work to be discussed here is a theatrical presentation that contains a great deal of autobiographical information about its author, the Long Day's Journey into Night. The work would in fact probably be a well founded example of the premise of McGoldrick's work as well as Smith's take on maltreatment of children as the repetitive nature of maltreatment of children and repeated adult conflicts is evident throughout the work. The work speaks especially of alcohol and drug dependence as a manner in which the family is degraded and children are neglected. The consensus of the work is that the author is forever altered as an individual by the events of his young life and though he is monumentally creative he is also a tortured human soul. Edmond's mother is an narcotic addict, his brother is an alcoholic and he is stricken with tuberculosis and is confined to a sanitarium, not an uncommon even during the period. The long held resentments that are evident in the relationship between father and son as well as between Edmond and his mother for letting his father institutionalize carry a note of realism that describes well similar interactions in many dysfunctional families. In act three there is a drunken confession, from Jamie the older brother that clearly represents sibling rivalry in its most stark reality, a function of family that never completely leaves the individual, even in the best of families.
Mama and Papa are right. I've been rotten bad influence.... Did it on purpose to make a bum of you. Or part of me did. A big part. That part that's been dead so long. That hates life. My putting you wise so you'd learn from my mistakes. Believed that myself at times, but it's a fake.... Never wanted you succeed and make me look even worse by comparison. Wanted you to fail. Always jealous of you. Mama's baby, Papa's pet!... And it was your being born that started Mama on dope. I know that's not your fault, but all the same, God damn you, I can't help hating your guts -- !... But don't get wrong idea, Kid. I love you more than I hate you.... Make up your mind you've got to tie a can to me -- get me out of your life -- think of me as dead -- tell people, "I had a brother, but he's dead."
This tortured communication clearly defines the dysfunctional family and all the decisions that parent's and children make that influence others in their family, in either the positive or the negative and are carried into adulthood, no matter how hard we try to lose them.
In a sense the work demonstrates the adult conflict between how we remember things, how they really happened and how our parents and siblings remember them. There is a strong sense of individual perception that pervades the work and makes it moving. These characters are trapped in a set of circumstances, not of their own doing, but that makes them feel more helpless rather than absolved from responsibility.
Each of these works, taken individually demonstrate a whole picture of the discipline in which they are derived. Taken together they discuss the universality of family and what the word really means to so many people. The different disciplines are respective of the personal biases of the discipline as well as of the author, though they offer persistent insight into the collective idea of family. Though the first two works deal mainly with child-rearing and the second is isolated to infant child rearing the patterns that are expressed by the different discipline influences can be applied to the general idea of family, to a degree. The historical and historical psychological works are more demonstrative of discipline, probably than any of the others as they tend to make generalizations that are demonstrative of linear historical thinking and the second demonstrates a tendency to make broad generalizations and assumptions, secondary of environment or context, as much sense as it might make to the reader it is also probably more disturbing even than the work of literature in it assessment of family, only saving itself with the directions for change. The works together demonstrate a relatively complete picture of family, but can not answer all the questions. Any one of them, except maybe the literary piece could have created a better sense of the whole if it were more inclusive of modern family structure diversity, an issue that needs serious address in the modern world, as families continue to evolve and change.
Smith, Harriet J., Parenting for Primates, New York: Harvard University Press, 2006.
Small, Meredith, Our Babies, Ourselves, New York: Anchor, 1999.
Coontz, Stephanie, Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy or How Love Conquered Marriage. New York: Viking Adult, 2005.
O'Neil, Eugene, Long Days Journey Into the Night, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.