Bowenian Family Systems Therapy
* Started by Murray Bowen
* Began at Meninger Clinic in late 1940s working with schizophrenics
* Bowen was stuck by the emotional sensitivity between patients and their mothers.
* At the heart of the problem was anxious attachment, a pathological form of closeness.
* Interested in system theory way of thinking.
* Bowen though we have less autonomy in our emotional lives than we assume.
* Most of us are more dependant and reactive to one another than we would like to think.
* Bowen describes how the family, as multigenerational network of relationships, shapes the interplay of individuality and togetherness using six interlocking concepts:
+ Differentiation of self- Ego Strength
# The capacity to think and reflect, instead of responding automatically.
# The ability to think and act wisely in the face of anxiety.
# Be yourself in spite of others
# Anxiety is a major influence.
# As anxiety increases, people experience a greater need for emotional triangles.
# Two people in a conflict will draw in a third person to try and fix the problem or take sides.
# This lets off steam but freezes conflict in place.
+ Nuclear Family Emotional Process
# Undifferentiated family ego mass.
# FUSION= families that are emotionally stuck together.
# Especially noticed in schizophrenic families.
+ Multigenerational Transmission
# Passing chronic anxiety from generation to generation.
+ Emotional Cutoff
# The way people manage anxiety between generations.
# The greater the emotional fusion between parents and children, the greater likelihood of a cutoff.
+ Societal Emotional Process
# Used early in the field of family therapy to acknowledge the influence of societal pressures/influences.
# Later used by feminist Bowenians Monica McGoldrick and Betty Carter who added gender and ethnicity.