Emotional Cutoff in Bowen Family Systems Theory
How does it happen that family members can go years without any communication between them? While an occasional holiday card might be exchanged, person-to-person contact does not occur. In many instances, all contact is lost not only with extended family but nuclear family. In family counseling persons will say, “I haven’t spoken to my father in 20 years. He remarried and moved to Colorado and started a new family.” Growing up, there was no contact with certain aunts or uncles. They were mysterious, never spoken about, and somehow forbidden.
Theoretical Context for Concept
Emotional cutoff is one concept in Bowen’s family theory, which consists of a system of eight interlocking states that describe the inevitable chronic emotional anxiety present in family relationships and concludes that chronic anxiety is the source of family dysfunction. The emotional dysfunction of an individual disturbs all of that person’s relationship systems, especially the family system (Bowen 1978...
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