Bowen Theory & Concepts
Dr. Bowen believed that human behavior is linked to biological functioning; therefore, he diligently studied the biological sciences to find application to what he was learning as he developed the theory. His root goal was to identify the facts about emotional functioning, and he consistently sought to bring knowledge from other fields to contribute to his theory.
Six years after his research began, Dr. Bowen published the first of eight concepts of family systems theory. Throughout his professional life he always encouraged comments and critiques in seeking the basic facts to substantiate or modify the theory. Today the theory is utilized through its application to the individual, the family and to any and all social systems.
There are two main variables in the Bowen Theory:
1) Degree of anxiety.
2) Degree of integration of self.
According to Bowen, all organisms are reasonably adaptable to acute anxiety. When anxiety is chronic, the organism develops tension, either within the organism or in the relationship system. The tension produced by enduring anxiety precipitates symptoms, dysfunction or sickness. The symptoms are manifested by physical illness, by emotional dysfunction, social illness characterized by impulsiveness, withdrawal or social misbehavior in a spouse; or by emotional or behavioral dysfunction in a child.
This is a succinct outline of the eight concepts of family systems theory as developed by Murray Bowen, M.D., now referred to as Bowen theory.