In our family we can have both stable and unstable people. We can have this multi-generational like a grandparent can be incredibly stable while your parent may not be. You can also have this in the same generation like one cousin who is mentally off the charts while another cousin is healthy and productive.
Stable people are "fairly long lived people who take full advantage of available educational and occupational opportunities." There lives are not bothered by serious physical dysfunction, social dysfunction, or emotional dysfunction. A stable person's marriage is intact and overall satisfying. These people have children and spouses who function at about the same level as they themselves function. If this person moves from place to place it is due to their goals and not from a desire to run from any current circumstance.
An unstable person is one who "either lacks the motivation to take advantage of or they consistently squander available educational and occupational opportunities." The life of an unstable person is often hindered by serious physical dysfunction, emotional dysfunction, or social dysfunction. This person's relationships are unstable and they may have many failed marriages or even one considerably overwhelming failed marriage. These people are often estranged from people who were once very important in their lives like parents, siblings, and close friends. Often, these unstable people will move geographically based upon getting away from an "old" experience and trying to move to a "new and better" experience instead of going toward goals.
Most family members are somewhere on the continuum of these two polar opposites.
Now that you know the criteria,...are you unstable? Stable? How about your family as a whole? Sometimes it is helpful to take stock of where we are!
**Information taken from "Family Evaluation" by Michael E. Kerr, MD & Murray Bowen, MD**