We present a new reading of Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March (1953) by viewing the novel through the lens of family systems psychotherapy. Relying on the key ideas of family systems theorists Murray Bowen and Salvador Minuchin, we explore how the pathological March family system shapes Augie and his older brother Simon. Although the personalities of the two brothers are dissimilar, both are in different ways narcissistic and profoundly troubled. In search of someone or something that will enable them to overcome their malaise, Augie and Simon reveal what Bowen calls low levels of “differentiation of self,” which results in their being controlled by their emotions instead of relying on intellectual processes and firmly held convictions in responding to conflict.

You do not currently have access to this content.