Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Inaugural Posting

     Today I am inaugurating my blog, “societal studies with Bowen theory.” On it I will be posting efforts to develop “a beginning theory about society as an emotional system” based on the theoretical natural systems framework for studying human emotional systems developed by the psychiatrist Murray Bowen (1913-1990). I will also post case studies that document attempts to apply that beginning theory to understanding pressing societal challenges, especially those that affect the ecological systems on which humans depend for survival, security or well being. Reading suggestions and some book reviews will also be posted from time to time.

     Called Bowen family systems theory (“Bowen theory” or just plain “theory”), this natural systems framework allows exploration of human emotional functioning at multiple levels, including the societal and ecological levels. I hope one day to have a corpus of work that others may find useful as they try to understand and deal with complex human phenomena that have the potential to compromise many life forms on which humans depend for their existence.

     I have been applying Bowen theory for many years both personally and professionally. In recent years, extending my capacity to apply Bowen theory to societal questions has become a singular focus and passion. A lawyer by training, I have been engaged in multi-party negotiations at the international level aimed at addressing questions that relate to the human’s safe and secure use of complex technology. I have also worked in the development of domestic regulations to govern such use. Bowen theory has informed those efforts and, I believe, enhanced their quality.

     I hope the blog will provide a forum for others interested in societal studies with Bowen theory to contribute to development of such a beginning theory about society as an emotional system. With this inaugural entry, I invite you to do so.

     Pat Comella

1 comment:

  1. Basic Issues for the Human in Challenging Times
    1) Perception: the inability to perceive the threat.

    2) The greatest challenge is to see how people are aligned as a function of the automatic the way the system is and how it becomes “stuck.”

    3) People perceive the problem but need others to change. All is lost.

    4) Automatic emotional response to threat: is to see it as a practical problem. Each person has a lack of integration of the intellectual and emotional centers creating response reactions, which are too intellectual or too emotional.

    5) Under stress people lose self in adapting in relationships. Some absorb greater amounts of stress than others, freeing others to cut off from the problems and be more for self. This results in reciprocal relationships in which some are over involved and some are under involved. The over involved person has the greater flexibility to alter his or her functioning but lack motivation in the short term.

    6) The over functioning person has to perceive the difficulty of taking actions for self based on his or her best understanding of the nature of the problem and the way the system is organized.

    7) The basic fear is uncertainty that one knows the way out and or that by becoming a more separate and self-defined person in an emotional system anything better will happen. The loss of comfort in relationships can be life threatening.

    8) People can perceive the problem once they focus on relationships issues as more important than the PROBLEM.

    9) The problem is imbedded in the relationship system. Once an individual sees how they are stuck and makes an effort to alter all important relationships, they have accepted the way the system is. This seeing and allowing then allows the person to begin a series of action steps to detriangling from those they are most involved with. During times of stress it becomes more and more difficult to make real and genuine contact with another person.

    Jack Calhoun approached the problem in animal populations by allowing for animals to push a water bar to cooperate thereby enabling both animals to get water. Cooperation but not alignment or fusion with another produced a greater capacity to tolerate stress.