The Systems Thinker - Center for Family Consultation's blog

What Spock Taught Me About Being More Differentiated

Authored by Cecilia Guzman

“Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.”

It was 1969 and I was seven years old watching the TV show Star Trek for the first time and feeling as if my world changed. I was enthralled by this creature named Spock who was always so calm and intelligent. I didn’t realize it at the time, but as I matured the relationship between Captain Kirk (full human) and Spock (half human, half Vulcan) began to influence the way I defined myself. I’ve always wanted to be more “Spock-like.”

“Insufficient facts always invite danger.”

Spock exemplified the beautiful balance between feeling and thinking. He manifested astounding self-mastery, and in Bowen terms, was extremely well differentiated. As I began studying Bowen Family Systems Theory, I discovered that this science fiction masterpiece was a fairly good representation of the theory itself.

“Insults are effective only when emotion is present.”—Spock

The relationship between Kirk and Spock was always one of Kirk being more emotional and instinctual and Spock being more logical and rational. Yet Spock’s cool self-mastery didn’t mean that he lacked emotional bandwidth. As Sarek, Spock’s father, said in the movie Star Trek (2009): “Emotions run deep within our race. In many ways more deeply than in humans. Logic offers a serenity humans seldom experience. The control of feelings, so that they do not control you.” To me, this sounds likes top down thinking a distinctive feature of a better, more differentiated human being.  The arts regardless of medium, is humanity’s method for trying to understand itself. Whether the art form is sculpture or literature, music or movies, all art forms attempt to explain, understand or represent the human condition. Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator, had the uncanny ability to create a story-line that parallels our very struggle to master our nature and to differentiate.

“In critical moments, men sometimes see exactly what they want to see.”

On February 27, 2015 Leonard Nimoy (Spock) died. I admit, I cried—hard. Spock was the character that made it okay for me to be smart, nerdy and sometimes viewed as cold and heartless. He also made it okay to feel deeply for the people he loved. He made it okay to stand by your principles and to be flexible when necessary. He made being an “outsider” cool. I thank Leonard Nimoy for making my life more enjoyable, for teaching me so much about being human, and for lending me the metaphor for the theory that I use to improve the lives of the families I serve. Leonard Nimoy, live long and prosper.

“Change is the essential process of all existence.” —Spock

pic_cguzmanCecilia Guzman


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2 Comments on "What Spock Taught Me About Being More Differentiated"

  • Avrum says

    Cecilia – as a teenager, I never “got” Star Trek. Miami Vice was more my (lowbrow) speed. However, when I discovered Bowen theory (in graduate school), and pondered “What does a higher differentiated person look/act/think like” I did think of Spock. Your post piqued my curiosity, and I wonder if a few ST episodes on youtube might supplement my own BFST learning. If nothing else, my wife – who grew up watching ST with her family – would welcome this activity.

    Thanks for this.

    – Avrum

  • Cecilia Guzman says

    Thanks Avrum for your comment. I would recommend watching the 2009 movie Star Trek. It features newer versions of Kirk and Spock and also the original Spock. It might be a bit confusing for those wjo do not know the back story but it does display great examples of BFST.


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