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The psychiatrist Murray Bowen (1913–1990) focused his professional studies on observing the interactions of the family and formulating a theory of the family as a system. He believed that the social interactions of the human family could best be understood in the context of the human’s evolutionary heritage. His work remains the foundation of Bowen theory.

Bowen’s early work as a psychiatrist led him to the observation that the family was an interactive social unit in which all the family members played a part in creating a symptomatic individual. This went against the grain of the mental health community at the time. In the 1950s, when he was developing his ideas on the family system, Freudian theories described a symptom, whether neurotic or psychotic, as ...

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