Bowen's Family Systems

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The purpose of this paper is to explain using Bowen's family systems framework, how

an individual's level of differentiation and anxiety influence family relationships and

strengths. Bowen's family systems theory addresses how patterns of interaction in the

family of origin influence a couple's interaction in the next generation with their

children. Bowen describes the differences in family functioning, by the degree of anxiety

or the degree of differentiation within the family. Bowen's definition of differentiation

of self as a persons ability to differentiate intellectual functioning ( thinking ), from

feelings. The level of differentiation of self is determined in the family of origin. When

an individual has an increased level of differentiation, he has a clear sense of his own

identity. A person's intellectual functioning helps behavior to be rational, less

impulsive, more independent and autonomous. These individuals have good problem

solving techniques, and are less influenced by others. As differentiation of self increases,

levels of anxiety decrease. As anxiety goes up, differentiation goes down. A child's

differentiation of self develops around an emotional system. With a high level of

anxiety, functioning is impulsive, rather than rational. Individuals with a low level of

differentiation, develop dependent and emotionally fused relationships. These

individuals are more dependent on others. Their sense of self is clouded, and they don't

develop a clear identity. Their feelings and thoughts are fused, and they express a

pseudoself rather than their true opinions.
Families whose members have increased levels of differentiation and decreased

levels of anxiety, they will be rational and cognitive in their ways of relating to other

family members, and more effective with problem solving skills. They will try to clearly...
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