Fusion or internalized homophobia? A pilot study of Bowen's differentiation of self hypothesis with Lesbian couples

Bernadette Spencer, Jac Brown*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Bowen, using the concept of differentiation, hypothesized that the way individuals learn to deal with their relationships with families of origin will influence the way they manage their relationships with their partners. This study surveyed a group of 53 lesbian couples on differentiation of self, internalized homophobia, and relationship satisfaction. We found that lesbian couples were not significantly different in their level of differentiation than random pairs. We also found that there was a positive relationship between differentiation of self and relationship satisfaction and that when considered together, internalized homophobia had the more significant connection to relationship satisfaction than did differentiation of self. Implications for therapy are drawn from these findings. 2007

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-268
Number of pages12
JournalFamily Process
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007



  • lesbian relationships
  • internalized homophobia
  • differentiation of self
  • relationship satisfaction
  • fusion
  • emotional cutoff

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