About Bowen Theory

How did Bowen Theory develop, how has it changed, and what it means in the 21st century.

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History

Bowen family systems theory was developed by psychiatrist Murray Bowen in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It was first published in 1966.

It is based on research Bowen conducted at the Menninger Clinic, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Georgetown University Medical Center, and the Georgetown University Family Center in Washington, D.C.

Bowen’s family research project at the NIMH was able to have whole families living on the research ward for extended periods. Bowen and his staff conducted extensive observational research on family interactions.

History

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Bowen family systems theory was developed by psychiatrist Murray Bowen in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It was first published in 1966.

It is based on research Bowen conducted at the Menninger Clinic, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Georgetown University Medical Center, and the Georgetown University Family Center in Washington, D.C.

Bowen’s family research project at the NIMH was able to have whole families living on the research ward for extended periods. Bowen and his staff conducted extensive observational research on family interactions.

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New Developments and Applications

5 important developments in Bowen theory and its applications occurred since 1990.

  • Chronic anxiety is one of the two central variables in Bowen theory.
  • Differentiation of self is the second central variable in Bowen theory.
  • The concept of societal emotional process was added to Bowen theory in 1976.
  • Dr. Kerr connects evolutionary biology’s idea with Bowen theory’s conceptualization of the counterbalancing life forces of “individuality“ and “togetherness”.
  • Kerr’s introduction of the unidisease concept – the idea that a wide range of diseases have a number of physiological processes in common
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Bowen Theory in the 21st Century

Recent developments in research lend credence to Bowen theory’s linking between chronic anxiety and the development of symptoms. This thinking leads to ways to address chronic anxiety by understanding its generation in relationships and changing the behaviors it stimulates rather than just managing anxiety internally.

Our Work

Construction Theory of Emotion and BFST

Bowen family systems theory is a theoretical view of relationship process and symptom development. It contains concepts that were developed independently of neuroscience as the current research was not available.

A Perspective on a World on Fire: Societal Regression

I write this Op-ed piece after hearing New York Times journalist David Brooks express surprise at the closeness of the recent presidential election. He had not realized America was such a deeply divided, polarized nation.

Brief Book Review “How to Tame a Fox,” Lee Alan Dugatkin & Lyudmila Trut

Two reasons for my interest: Desire to anchor the individuality-togetherness concept in evolution, and develop a systems theory of the individual. The brain beyond the long-term research this book describes was Russian geneticist Dimitri Belyaev. Lyudmila

Brief Revisiting of TOFT and its Importance To Bowen Theory

Bowen theory is a natural systems theory that leads the therapist to ask a family different kinds of questions than those guided by individual psychodynamic theories.

A Bowen Theorist in Public Administration

A public service administrator is embedded in societal emotional process, and Bowen theory is about trying to enhance regulation of emotional process based on an understanding of natural systems. This presents difficulty. If it has been addressed in the

A Little More Systems Rationality: Bayesian Reasoning

Bayesian reasoning assigns probabilities of certainty/uncertainty to hypotheses about various parts of reality. Then it uses any additional new information to update the probabilities of these hypotheses

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