The Systems Thinker - Center for Family Consultation's blog

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 the capacity of individuals to self-regulate is not unrelated to the co-regulatory processes occurring in the family over the course of development and in the present.

The family and the development of the brain have been inextricably woven together over the course of hominid evolution and can be seen as underlying the reciprocal influence between family functioning and brain development. The degree to which the intellectual system remains governed by the emotional system or functions with a degree of autonomy is seen as principally shaped by the family emotional system. During the maturational process a child moves toward greater autonomy, but the independence is relative and constrained or enhanced by the larger relationship system in which he or she is embedded. It is in this context that variation in the functioning of the intellectual, feeling, and emotional systems occurs.

Note: Dr. Noone will be making a presentation on this topic March 17, 2017 at the Kansas City Center for Family Systems in Kansas City, Mo.


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