Nuclear Family Emotional Process
This concept has two important dimensions to it: 1) the nuclear family and 2) the emotional process.
This refers to the automatic, hard-wired sensitivity and accompanying anxiety reactions humans have to one another - from the level of our cells to our psychological and social reactions and interactions. In a family, these sensitivities can be heightened such that a particular response in a loved one can be seen as a major problem and the same response in a stranger is not noticed or reacted to as a problem.
The nuclear family is the basic emotional unit of a family system. The traditional form of this unit is comprised of husband, wife and one or more children. When the differentiation level of the couple is higher they will have more automatic capacity to manage the anxiety of their sensitivities - fears, disappointments, unrealistic expectations, etc.- with one another. They will have more capacity to resolve these tensions and differences. A less well differentiated couple will chronically generate more anxiety/stress around these same issues and have less effective means for resolving them.
When the level of chronic anxiety exceeds the coping capacity of the unit, the result is symptoms in the most vulnerable area of the family unit. This could mean symptoms in a spouse, in the couple relationship or symptoms in one or more children (see Nuclear Family Projection Process). There are three broad categories of individual symptoms: a) physical; b) psychological/psychiatric; and c) social. Symptoms in the relationships include conflict, distancing toward or including cutoff, and triangling. Triangling can move up into the extended family, out into the workplace or an affair or through projection down toward the children.