ABSTRACT

This chapter provides a historical and theoretical overview of the concept of emotional cutoff in Bowen family systems theory. It presents a description of cutoff and its place in Bowen theory. In the 1950s, Bowen’s research on families with schizophrenic offspring provided a unique description of the emotional process of separation between the adolescent and his or her parents, culminating in the failure of the schizophrenic offspring to leave home. In retrospect, this early research provided the understanding of how “cutting off” provides a pseudosolution for the adolescent or young adult who is unable to manage the unresolved attachment to his or her parents.