Blame and Blaming

Authored by Kelly Matthews-Pluta, M.S.W.

One of the central ideas of Bowen Theory is differentiation of self—a concept of how one sees oneself, emotionally, as an individual and in relationship to and with others.  Often people studying Bowen Theory struggle with the idea of separation of self and other.  Of course, it is complicated.  The two, self and other, are at the same time both separate and connected.  It is exactly that paradox which makes the concept challenging for many: “Am I a separate self or …

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Cutoff: The challenge of the parent/child relationship

Authored by John Bell, M. Div.

“The more a nuclear family maintains some kind of viable emotional contact with the past generations, the more orderly and asymptomatic the life process in both generations” Murray Bowen, Family Therapy in Clinical Practice, 383.

Phillip Klever, LCSW, LMFT recently published the results of a fifteen-year research project on cutoff in the family.  He studied the most extreme cases in his family of high symptomatology and low symptomatology.  He found five couples on either end of the continuum of symptomatology (high …

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The Hospital Visit

Authored by John Bell, M. Div.

Early on in my career, I used to stress over hospital visits.  I didn’t mind going to the hospital.  Growing up, I saw hospitals as helpful and caring places.  My stress about making hospital visits had more to do with my role as clergy.  I worried about encountering the unexpected and having to think on my feet; having to know what to say or do or what not to say or do.

To me, what is challenging about hospital visits is …

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Does Meditation Foster Differentiation of Self?

Authored by:  Erik Thompson, M. A.

Licensed Psychologist-Masters

Principal, Thompson Leadership Development, Inc., and Executive Director, Vermont Center for Family Studies

“Just as a solid rock is not shaken by the storm, even so the wise are not affected by praise or blame.”

-The Yoga Vashishtha, 6th Century BC

Bowen theorists have developed a unique set of tools for expanding personal, family, and organizational health, including seeing the group as a system, managing self, de-triangling, and strengthening overall relationship capital with original members.  More “self” decreases chronic anxiety and reactivity …

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Fooling Self and Others: Self-Deception in the Practice of Differentiation of Self

Authored by Jim Smith, M. S.

In this presentation I did a brief review of the extensive literature on self-deception in the evolutionary biology literature, including evolutionary biologist Robert Triver’s theory of self-deception. I then discussed self-deception from the perspective of Bowen’s idea of the pseudo-self, using examples from my effort to define a self in my own family.

“Deceitful behavior has a long and storied history in the evolution of social life, and the more sophisticated the animal, it seems, the more commonplace the con games, …

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