Experienced closeness and distance among family members

Linda G. Bell, Lena Ericksen, Connie Cornwell, David C. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


This study looks at experienced emotional closeness among family members using a projective measure, the Family Paper Sculpture. Results support the hypothesis that, in a non-clinical population, experiences of extreme closeness and extreme distance may be different manifestations of the same underlying process. Some support is found for the hypothesis that families in which relationships are experienced as very close or very distant at one point in time may experience those same relationships as extreme in the opposite direction at another point in time. Global coding of taped family interactions supports the hypothesis that extremes of experienced closeness are associated with more conflict, less ability to resolve differences, and less warmth and support among family members. It is suggested that the experience of being very close, varying through time with the experience of being very distant, may be associated with disappointed attempts to achieve closeness with autonomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-245
Number of pages15
JournalContemporary Family Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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