Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Marital Fusion in Couples

  • Angela K. GuyEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_13

Name of Concept

Marital Fusion

Introduction

The term “fusion” denotes the idea of two entities coming together to act as a single unit (Oxford Dictionary n.d.). In the context of a marriage, fusion describes a dynamic wherein each member of the union is unable to operate independently from his/her partner from a psycho-emotional perspective (Klever 2003). This neglect of one’s individuality within the scope of the relationship is a crucial feature of fusion (Karpel 1976). Marital fusion is related to multiple features of the clinical picture including anxiety, emotionality, poor differentiation, faulty attachment styles and coping mechanisms, and lack of insight. As such, fusion almost always leads to conflict and friction in the relationship, which may warrant clinical intervention.

Theoretical Context for Concept

Fusion is a fundamental aspect of Bowen’s theory of “differentiation,” whereby the parameters of the fusion are defined by the extent to which each partner is unable to...

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References

  1. Bowen, M. (1978). On the differentiation of self. In Rowman & Littlefield (Eds.), Family therapy in clinical practice (pp. 467–521). Northvale: Aronson.Google Scholar
  2. Fusion [Def. 1]. (n.d.). In Oxford Dictionary Online, Retrieved 10 Oct 2017, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/fusion
  3. Karpel, M. (1976). Individuation: From fusion to dialogue. Family Process, 15, 65–82.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Klever, P. (1998). Marital fusion and differentiation. In P. Titelman (Ed.), Clinical applications of Bowen family systems theory (pp. 119–137). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Klever, P. (2003). Intergenerational fusion and nuclear family functioning. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 25(4), 431–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Olson, D. H. (2000). Circumplex model of marital and family systems. Journal of Family Therapy, 22, 144–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical PsychologyCalifornia School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International UniversityAlhambraUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Molly F. Gasbarrini
    • 1
  1. 1.Alliant International UniversityLos AngelesUSA