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How is Bowen's Family Systems Theory defined?

Pathology is defined as low differentiation manifested by fusion, cut-off or triangulation.


According to Bowen, human relationships we are driven by two counterbalancing life forces, what are they?

Individuality and togetherness.
Nichols p. 76
Class 5 study notes p. 4


Who is the main developer of Family Systems Theory?

Murry Bowen


Who are some of the prominent names associated Bowen's Family Systems Theory?

Philip Guerin, Thomas Fogart, Betty Carter, Monica McGoldrick, Michael Keer and Ewin Friedman
Class 5 study notes p. 1


Bowen's work with schizophrenic patients and their mother shifted in his thinking, from what to what?

From an intrapersonal, individual treatment perspective to an interpersonal and sytemic.
Class 5 study notes p. 2


Describe a symbiotic relationship as it relates to a patient and their mother.

One between individuals where very close interdependencies exit and there may be over-closeness.
Class 5 study notes p. 2


What did Bowen discover about the emotional intensity of the parent/child relationship?

They were even more powerful than he expected and the intensity characterized relationships throughout the family.
Class 5 study notes p. 2


Bowen posits that emotional disturbed individuals arise from what?

Relational binds with others.
Class 5 study notes p. 3


What are Bowen's 8 interlocking concepts?

Differentiation, Emotional cut- off, Nuclear family emotional process, Triangulation, Family projection process, Multigenerational transmission process, Sibling position and Societal emotional process.
Class 5 study notes p. 3-4


What term describes the capacity to think and reflect, to not respond automatically to emotional pressures, internal and external - the ability to be flexible and act wisely, even in the face of anxiety.

Differentiation of self
Nichols p. 76
Class 5 study notes p. 4


Describe a person with a "solid self"

The person operates on the basis of clearly defined beliefs, convictions, opinions, and core values.
Nichols p. 78
Class 5 study notes p. 4


Describe a person with a pseudo-self.

This person is emotionally fused with the family emotional system.
Nichols p. 78
Class 5 study notes p. 4


What are the characteristics of an undifferentiated person?

They are stuck together with others in the family emotional system and unresolved emotional attachments effect (a) their lives and (b) their relationships.
Nichols p. 78 (for more details)
Class 5 study notes p. 5


What is the upsides of a triangle?

- They help maintain an optimum level of closeness and distance between members while permitting the greatest freedom from anxiety. It is the smallest stable relationship system and more stable and flexible than a twosome.
Class 5 study notes p. 8


What is the downside of a triangle?

They don't always help a threesome reach such favorable conclusions and may further increase tension and create more complexity/triangles.
Class 5 study notes p. 8-9


Define fusion.

Fusion is an excess of emotional reactivity in families. Created by too much togetherness.
Nichols p. 79


What does "Nuclear Family Emotional Process" refer to?

Emotional patterns that operate in families over time in recurrent patterns.
Class 5 study notes p. 10


What probable emotional patterns do nuclear families with a greater degree of fusion use to address anxiety and instability?

Distancing, Cut-offs and Forming interlocking triangles.
Class 5 study notes p. 11


What does Bowen call the process by which parents transmit their lack of differentiation to their children?

Family Projection Process
Class 5 study notes p. 12


How is a Cut-Off defined?

Distancing from the family in an Effort to avoid and deny unresolved conflicts which mask unexamined fusion.
- Cut Class 5 study notes p. 14


What are 2 strategies that a child involved in the family projection process my use to extricate themselves from the family emotional system ("Flight from unresolved emotional ties")?

- Cut themselves off by moving away
- Cut themselves off emotionally by the use of psychological barriers
Class 5 study notes p. 14
Nichols P. 80


What did Bowen believe about Sibling Position and their personality development?

Children develop personality characteristics, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors based on their position in the family.
Class 5 study notes p. 15


A child's position in the family that enables a therapist to do what two things?

Predict the part a given child will play in the family's emotional process
Predict which family patterns will be carried on to the next generation.
Class 5 study notes p. 15


What was Murray Bowen's preference?

He preferred the term theory over therapy.
Class study notes p. 1


Bowen was a proponent of thoughts and logic. He felt Differentiation of self was about what?

Individuals who transcend or control their own emotions while embedded within the family system's emotional forces.
Class study notes p. 4


Couples of consult a third party to help them deal with dyadic stress/anxiety. What is the purpose of this Therapeutic Triangle?

1. It proves to dilute the anxiety/stress
2. It is a more stable and flexible configuration than the twosome
3. It has a greater tolerance for dealing with stress
Class study notes p. 7


Bowen considers what to be the basic building block in a family's emotional system?

The Triangle
Class study notes p. 8


Simply but Bowen's definition of the Societal Emotional Process.

His principles related to the family to hypothesize that these can be extended to seen in the larger populations.
Class notes p. 15
Nichols p. 80