ABSTRACT

My naive first encounters with Bowen family systems theory at national meetings were probably similar to many professionals’ then, in the 1970s, and now. I listened with curiosity and tried hard to understand. Failing to comprehend, yet intensely aroused by the talk of family relationships, I would linger afterward to try to get Bowen to see that my family problems were not covered by his remarks. My family was different. What could I do? His calm responses were even more frustrating. “I knew a guy with a family like that once. He tried very hard, but nothing much ever came of it.” When psychiatrists get into a corner, they diagnose. My best assessment was that, obviously, Bowen was crazy, talking of a new theory. We did not need a new theory. We already had one-Freudian theory. Who did he think he was? Another Freud?