Families in transition: new clinical phenomena between East and West

E. de Bustis, U. Telfener, J. Perreira, M. Ascoli, Prof. Zhao, A. Mosconi

Professor Zhao explained that the Chinese mentality is organized by Confucian familyism, that is a key to understand China and the Chinese. Individuation is rare in China, the patriarchal Society is based on families and on the worship of ancestors. He considers “family” the most flexible word in the Chinese vocabulary since families are an organization ordered by practical and utilitarian necessities: the highest form of life is to fulfill parents unfulfilled wishes and tasks. Altruism is based on attention to one’s family and to one’s own people. The dilemma if meeting one’s needs or fulfilling other’s interests is not significant since individuation is suppressed in favor of the network, the kin. Collectivism is lived through materialism and communism, that does not imply social awareness.
Since 1979 there has been the market economy and the one child policy (suppressed in 2015 in favor of the two children policy, only the military can have three children).
“We lack boundaries; – Zhao stated – we have problems with the families, where it emerges the 4.2.1 syndrome: 4 grandparents, 2 parents and one only child who is usually the emperor of the home, who attracts all the attention and performs power and fear”. It seems the Chinese are sharing with the West a new anxiety for the future and a new fear for unsuccessful parenting. Another problem they face is the “left behind children” of families that go to work abroad, a phenomenon that includes 62 million people. The elderly are a totally new population for China’s mental health, till now they were “soldiers” that performed as expected.
Money and competition are lately new values that create much confusion since they put people in a triple conflict: Filial piety, loyalty to the State and the new value of happiness connected with intimacy and the nuclear family, a new entry in mental health offices.
The two other in dialogue with professor Zhao have been Micol Ascoli from London who explained her experience at the Bejing United Family Hospital for three years and Umberta Telfener, our President, who spoke about these hyper-modern times.

Prof Zhao & Umberta Telfener

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