A systemic mental health perspective typically refers to the ability to conceive of individual mental health problems as influenced, or even created or maintained, by dysfunctional interpersonal relationships. The term itself is derived primarily from the ideas of the biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy, who argued in his book General System Theory that a variety of human experiences and social and scientific problems could be thought of as if they were systems. It also grows, in part, out of the work of the family therapist Murray Bowen, who believed that nearly all human and animal families actually were systems in which the behavior of each member fundamentally shaped the behavior of the others. Bowen’s and Bertalanffy’s views, while largely compatible, were not identical. Bertalanffy saw a ...

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