EUROPEAN FAMILY THERAPY ASSOCIATION
CONNECTING FAMILY THERAPISTS AND TRAINERS
(1913-1990) He comes from Tennessee
(1913-1990) He comes from Tennessee where his family had a funeral home, he got his psychodynamic training from Menninger Institute, then gives birth to the Bowen Family System Theory insisting on the importance of a trigenerational attention to family patterns. He introduced concepts as differentiation of the Self from one’s family of origin and the trigenerational triangle as the attractor in family dynamics.
Carmine Saccu: I met him in 1978 in Rome on the occasion of a seminar and then at the Family Therapy Conference in Florence organized with Andolfi and our group. He was welcoming. He worked with students by sending them to their homes to be therapists for their family of origin. A healthy member who worked for differentiation with the family unit. He broke with psychoanalysts, getting into the habit of talking about himself to clients.
I then met him in Washington on the occasion of his symposium. I remember that on the third day all the most famous systemic therapists came in with a white rose in their mouths trying to introduce the game.
In the evening there was a party, many tables. At each table there were guests and at least one member of the Bowen family. I believe that his model was born because he was entangled in such a large family that his whole life was spent freeing himself from constraints, creating differentiation, seeking identification from the family of origin.
Another time I attended a training meeting and was able to understand how he used his model which included the family of origin in the primary triangle. His clinical attention included three or four generations, he used to work with the most individuated person who needed to go back to the family and perform certain interventions in order to enhance differentiation. The model has been then adopted by us at the Institute in Rome.