family emotional systems theory

1320 Words6 Pages
Analysis of Bowen’s Family Emotional Systems Theory in the Clark Case Study This paper explains family emotional systems theory, as developed by Murray Bowen, as it applies to the Clark Family Case Study. I will begin this paper with a broad overview of family systems theory and focus specifically on Bowen’s family emotional systems theory and its interpretation of family emotional and relational dynamics and symptom formations. My explanation of this theory will be based on course readings, class handouts, and supplemental research. I will assess which of Bowen’s eight interlocking key principles and concepts were the primary generators of anxiety in the Clark family (Bowen, 1978). Most notably, I will examine the emotional fusion and lack of differentiation between Bob and Marie. I will also examine the role of emotional triangles that exist within the Clark family, as a tool to shift anxiety and divert focus and also as a means for understanding the father-mother-child relationships. Finally, I will examine the intergenerational transmission of patterns, themes and roles of the members of the Clark family. In conclusion, I will critique the merits and the shortcomings of Bowen’s family emotional systems theory using Hutchinson’s (2010, p.30) five criteria for evaluating theories in the practice of Social Work. Literature Review Murray Bowen’s family emotional systems theory (BFST) is an outgrowth of Freud’s psychoanalysis of the individual (Kerr, 1981). Bowen was an analyst by training and applied the “unconscious mental processes” to the study of family systems (Walsh, 2010, p.91). Bowen’s theory exists as a branch under the umbrella of the more general systems theory. System theory posits that a whole system is more tha... ... middle of paper ... ...se cut-off with him in the next generation” (Bowen, 1978, p.382). The emotionally cut-off individual may experience profound difficulties in intimate relationship. Further, this individual “does not see himself/herself as part of the system, his only options are either to get others to change or to withdraw”(Kerr and Bowen, 1988, pp. 272-273). This individual is usually unaware or in denial of the strength of the pull of the primary relationship (Walsh, 2010). Finally, the act of cutting-off does not resolve the underlying issues. Bowen’s family emotional systems theory is a dynamic theory that places the individual within the family system. The theory examines the family system’s level of anxiety by highlighting the types of fusion, triangling, the nuclear familyprojecting, multi-generational transmission of patterns, the emotionally cutting off of an individual,
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