Family, the Brain, and Differentiation of Self

The concept of differentiation of self entails two primary aspects based on the observations of Dr. Bowen. The first is that individuals vary in the degree to which they differentiate or develop emotional autonomy in relation to the family in which they grew up. The second aspect is the degree to which an individual’s higher cortical systems, referred to by Bowen as the intellectual system, differentiate over the course of development. The differentiation of this function underlies an individual’s capacity to utilize the intellectual system in self-regulation and self-direction over their life course. This presentation will describe the above and place these processes in the context of the co-evolution of the family and the brain.

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“Forward” to Death and Chronic Illness in the Family: Bowen Family Systems Theory Perspectives

The consideration of death, especially of one’s own mortality, has been a preoccupation of the human since the evolution of the wondrous primate brain allowed for the awareness of the future and so of one’s end. The reality of death is never far from consciousness. Along with the effort to understand life and how it came to be, the human has struggled to comprehend death and its meaning. It is a subject many seek to avoid considering and yet in one form or another it influences our daily lives.

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Parental Anxiety: It Goes with the Territory

The birth of a child gives birth to the hopes and dreams of parents, hopes that their child will grow to live an interesting and fulfilling life. Alongside hope lies fear of threats, large and small. Worry about the health and safety of one’s child is a natural part of parenting, but concern about children has increased in recent decades.  Parents seem less sure of themselves, concerned they are not doing enough to meet the needs of their children. Our child-oriented culture contributes to this anxiety with endless admonitions to be more involved. The problems parents are told to be on the lookout for have expanded exponentially along with a myriad of suggested “solutions”.

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Science & Bowen Family Systems Theory

Dr. Murray Bowen was well known to be extremely interested and well read in the natural sciences. One of his main goals was to connect the study of human behavior and functioning to the natural sciences including neuroscience, immunology, genetics, & evolutionary biology to name a few. To this end he established the tradition of hosting annual symposia in which a well-established scientist would be invited to present his/her work to the Bowen community. According to Dr. Robert Noone, “Dr. Bowen was keeping the theory …

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The Thinking, Feeling, and Emotional Systems

Authored by Robert J. Noone, Ph.D.

Bowen theory posits that the interdependent functioning of the intellectual, feeling, and emotional systems of an individual are central to an individual’s overall adaptiveness over a life course.

The prolonged development of the human brain takes place in the context of the highly integrated relationship system of the family. The interactive processing of signals from within the brain, body, and family shapes individual development. The strengthening of neural circuits occurs in the context of the relationship circuitry of the family. Thus …

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Highlights from The 53rd Symposium on Family Theory and Family Psychotherapy

Authored by Kelly Mathews-Pluta, M.S.W., and Robert Noone, PhD.

The Symposium on Family Theory and Family Psychotherapy offered by the Bowen Center for the Study of Family in Washington, DC was held November 4th and 5th, 2016. This Annual Symposium brings together the liveliest minds in the Bowen network to present, question, and discuss the latest research and ideas about Bowen theory. As always, the Symposium also features a Distinguished Guest Lecturer from another discipline whose research is relevant to Bowen theory. Bowen theory is not …

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