1. Magnificent work. The book looks good, and the new website is classy. Most of all it contains substance. I love societal regression, hot intensity, symptoms, and all the dysfunctions.

  2. Frank, Many thanks for your real time comment on the site. You put in the reminder that one is less uptight, if they can learn to love, or at least appreciate, their own symptoms and those of their near and dear.

  3. Nice job, I really look forward to getting your book once it is available. The chapters I read were very interesting, and each rereading of it brings new insight. Good luck with the search for an editor!

  4. Thank you for your comments. It is useful to know that these ideas are making a difference.

    If you have questions and want more dialogue, this is also a good forum for idea exchange.

  5. RE: Into The Wild.
    That was beautifully written! I can’t quit reading Krakouer’s stuff even though I am not an “outdoors” person. Man up against the elements resonates for all at some level. Into Thin Air is a master piece about leadership gone awry and the giddy hubruis on top of the mountain.

    Krakouer’s book left me thinking that the son’s expectations and disappointment in the father were at least equal to or far outweighed the father’s disappointment and expectations for the son–caught in the niche between the harshness of dad’s expectations and sympathy/ support with mother, which seemed to be driving the cut-off. The mother’s visions and thinking she could hear him–its like she was saying to Dad..”I was right, I know him best.”

    If you didn’t read Into the Wild you might have missed the irony of his death…..

    –a few hundred feet downstream from where Alex tried to cross the river was a high wire and bucket just waiting for him to jump on board.

    –he wasn’t really “in the wild”. He was 6 miles away from the nearest town.

    –was he suicidal? probably not but like Krakouer’s other characters, he over-estimated his rank up against nature and nature won out. One of the down-sides of cut-off is living without feedback to the point where what ever one imagines is perceived as truth.

  6. Family Systems Forum article
    Andrea, I stumbled upon your website while googling Dr. Bowen’s name and realized after reading it for a while that you wrote the great lead article in FSF journal Fall, 2007. I read it twice and continue to ponder it and implications for my own family. Thanks for writing about such a personal subject.

  7. Andrea,
    You are doing fabulous work. I have very much enjoyed hearing you present workshops at the NE Bowen presentations and this website is so interesting. I tell anyone who is interested in this kind of thinking to find our website.

  8. It has been nice reading your website. It’s been years since I first became acquainted with you at, what was then, Georgetown University Family Center. So, it was a real treat to find this site. It is nice to see what the filter of time has contributed to your thinking. Many of your thoughts have been helpful as I attempt to move forward in my own objective understanding of family systems and the self formation and emotional process in my own family. Reading your own story brought me back to the importance of constantly restructuring the facts of one’s story in the context of a family over one’s own natural history.

    I am working on a study of Spiritual literature from the major cultures and religions with regard to objectivity and Natural Systems. It has been an interesting and compelling study and it has reinforced my thoughts on theory. One thing it has forced me to do is go back to my family facts and reassess them through the filters of family elders who are quickly leaving this planet. I have done this many times, but one thing I am learning is that the elders in my family become much clearer in their expression of the facts the older they get. Of course this is somewhat obvious. But, by continuing to question the family elders about the facts of the family they are opening to new insight about the facts of the family and themselves which has created an impact on the larger family and myself.

    It strikes me as I think about it that The Great Religions are huge emotional systems that have natural histories that can be studied objectively, aside from their thought structures, that change and transpire over time. The more I think about this the more I suspect that finding and understanding the facts, and their impact on the growth of a religion, is something that can be approached by Natural Systems Theory in a number of ways. But, one thing I am finding is a very interesting commonality between all the religious histories and their ideologies. There appear to be people throughout who exhibit differentiation, or lack of differentiation of self, who have had major impacts on the development and direction religious movements have taken in history. Of course this is something we would expect. Looking at the great religions this way has been a remarkable journey.

    Your work here has reawakened some old efforts that were left undone as the spectrum and ordered chaos of life has transpired over the past 25 years since my first exposure to Murray Bowen and his thinking. Of course as I continue work on my own self through family systems awareness, I see things in the religious histories I am studying much more clearly. It brings to mind a saying in Talmud that I found very fascinating. I will share it with you here:

    “We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.” The Talmud

    • Dear Tom:
      I appreciate hearing from you after all these years. I recall when we meet at a biofeedback meeting. You seemed very quickly to be able to understand the importance of putting the mind and body back together. As I recall you went on to develop some of the more advanced software enabling people to calm the body and therefore more easily allow the brain to integrate emotional “information” and “reactivity.”
      I love your use of the word “self formation,” as I think this is what does happen, as we become more aware and bump up against the emotional process in our family and in any and all social groups. If you stick around long enough the group will exert a powerful social influence on you to function in accordance with the group.
      So what do you want to do NOW, as Val Brown says. (zengar.com)
      As you noted in your quote “interpretation” is all there is. “We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.” The Talmud
      When the group agrees about how things are and you are on the outside, it is hard to walk alone. However this is one of the most useful exercises and the fourth point on my Mindful Compass. Being comfortable about being alone IS needed to investigate and then to rewrite your family story.
      Most of us are far too cut off from our family.
      Most of us have no way of understanding the importance of reworking our family relationships.
      Those who are able to go out and meet as many people in their family as they can get to know, get varying views of their own history and are then far more capable of managing complex social systems.
      By gathering more facts of the family we become aware of how emotional process impacts and shapes us.
      The psychological research in this area is fascinating. People have little idea about how the brain is set up to lead us astray in making decisions in social groups. I love the groundbreaking work of Solomon Ashe, Tversky and Kahneman, Ross, and Robert Cialdini and some of the thinking about how to improve decision-making by Thaler and Sunstein. I am re-reading the book by Philip Ball, Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another in order to understand the larger forces, in terms of the physics of society and social space.

      I have used many of the Buddhist principles of non-attachment in approaching elders and others to understand their understandings. It is hard for people to think if I have my mind made up and am attached to certain ways of understanding.
      Having an open mind and relating well to others creates the possibility of change. This seems to be the base for the impact on the larger family and yourself that you reported.
      You seem to be approaching the big picture in looking at the influences of forces contained in the spiritual history and literature. This area can and will open many new areas of knowledge. Dr. Bowen also thought there was an objective way to understand the great religions and even supernatural phenomena.
      Recently quantum theory has been used to understand free will and spiritual like occurrences. Lynne McTaggart has written about mind over matter experiments, in her book, The Intention Experiment.
      There are many new promises for deeper understandings of the spiritual, the mind and the mysterious. I am sure you will continue to make a contribution to us all.
      Thank you for feedback, as it is wonderful to have a conversation like this as I put a great deal of time and energy into the web site.

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