In contrast to the value placed on the individual’s achievements and needs in individualist cultures, collectivist cultures tend to focus on the betterment of the entire family (Hofstead, 1980, 1982; Shon & Ja, 1982). The individual in a collectivist culture is dependent on his or her family, and the family reputation depends on the individual member’s behavior (Nydell, 1987). Accordingly, social relationships are built on duty and faithfulness to family and very close friends, and not on the individual’s personal needs, feelings, or opinions. Hence, being particularly disclosing about one’s problems, even with one’s own family, might be deemed self-centered and inconsiderate. Likewise, sharing one’s problems with those that are not in one’s family might be deemed inappropriate and possibly damaging to the entire family unit.
It is not surprising then, that those who come from collectivist cultures may be reluctant to open up to anyone about their personal problems, let alone someone outside of their immediate family unit such as a psychotherapist, for a number of reasons including fear of disloyalty, or perhaps, a fear of betrayal. Yet noticing and working through certain familial dynamics is often necessary in order to understand the various roles that one takes up in the world at large, particularly if one is unhappy in their relational patterns. Talking or writing things out can certainly be a helpful exercise, however speaking with someone else can be an insightful and rewarding experience. While it may be helpful to discuss one's family dynamics with others in the family, having a fresh and unbiased perspective may be one of the only ways to truly see the established behavioral and emotional patterns. Furthermore, speaking to someone outside of the family about one's familial interactions means not having to worry about how the information shared impacts the recipient of the disclosure, as this individual is not personally affected by the content.
*A portion of this blog post was taken from Manevich, I. (2010). The Changing Patterns of Self-Disclosure in Soviet Immigrants.