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Differentiation of Self

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Course length


1.5 Hours

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About the Course

This is the last and most recent concept in Bowen theory, although it captured his attention early on. During the 1960’s there was growing evidence that the emotional problems in society were similar to those in the family. The actual observations made centered on problems with delinquent teenage youngsters and what happened when the youngsters became the responsibility of the society.The concept conveys the thinking that a family subjected to chronic, sustained anxiety begins to lose contact with intellectually determined principles and resort to more and more emotionally determined decisions to allay the anxiety of the moment. The end product of the process is symptom development and eventually regression to a lower level of functioning. To apply this to a society, he postulated that the same process noted in families is evolving in the population which is in a period of increasing chronic anxiety. Thus, society responds to this with emotionally determined decisions to allay the anxiety of the moment and over time results in symptoms of dysfunction. The efforts to relieve the symptoms result in more emotional “band aid” type legislation which increases the problems, and that the cycle keeps repeating itself just as the family goes through similar cycles and comes to the state called “emotional illness.”

Dr. Bowen considered the chronic anxiety as a product of the population explosion, decreasing supplies of food and raw materials necessary to maintain man’s way of life on earth, and the pollution of the environment which is slowly threatening man’s existence.

Differentiation of Self

Carla’s interest in Bowen Family Systems Theory began approximately twenty-five years ago when it was introduced by a local clinician whose training had been at Georgetown University where Murray Bowen taught. She has actively pursued more extensive training and understanding of the theory for the past five years. Carla has seen significant changes in the lives of her own clients by sharing and applying Bowen Theory to their families. As well, Carla acknowledges the work she has done with her family of origin and her nuclear family has changed the course of her life.

Carla Goette
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