Bowen Family Systems Theory is a way of thinking that helps you determine what you would do with your life. It considers the influences in your life and the origin of your belief system. You see, your belief system may or may not be true. Better functioning people have accuracy working in their lives. The way you think is reflected in what you do.
There are eight concepts to Bowen's Theory (see www.TheBowenCenter.org):
** Differentiation of Self
** Nuclear Family Emotional Process
** Family Projection Process
** Multigenerational Transmission Process
** Emotional Cutoff
** Sibling Position (see "Family Constellation" by Walter Toman)
** Societal Emotional Process
Bowen Theory is one of the many reasons why I write my books. Consider, "Raiding the Empire of the Sun: Tinian 1945". The main character is based on my dad. He had just turned twenty-three years old when he flew the B-29 named "Eddie Allen" as depicted on the cover of my book. Here he was, a young man in wartime and in a life or death situation. His WWII experience molded his character, his personality. I learned more about my dad when I wrote that book. I also cultivated a level of admiration that I did not have before.
I experienced something similar when I wrote "The Fading of Lloyd". I now have a better understanding of my mother's life when she was growing up. Her family situation was stressed during a period of history when there was no societal support - no tolerance - for the mentally infirmed. I had in mind Bowen's Societal Emotional Process and Sibling Position when I wrote that book. Also, the Multigenerational Transmission Process because Clifford was brutally beaten as a young boy so it's no wonder that strategy was also inflicted on his own son, Lloyd. Today we know that child abusers have probably been abused themselves not knowing any other way to address difficulty in their lives.
So Bowen Theory opened my eyes. This is why I had spent time on genealogical research of my own family. It's the functioning of family members, their stories, that intrigues me and their personal belief system that honestly determines their quality of life. With knowledge, we can understand and forgive. Without knowledge, we are stuck.
Dr. Bowen was the Department Head of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington D.C. I studied his theory at the Bowen Family Center in Washington D.C. for four years. He is also the author of "Family Therapy in Clinical Practice". I remember him as a crotchety old man but also a brilliant person that had depth, compassion and respect of his students, professors and fellow physicians.
- Kit Crumpton