Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Emotional Cutoff in Bowen Family Systems Theory

  • Judy HaefnerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_261

Introduction

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...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Bowen Center for the Study of the Family Georgetown Family Center. (2016). Emotional cutoff. Retrieved from http://www.thebowencenter.org/theory/eight-concepts/emotional-cutoff/.
  2. Bowen, M. (1976). Theory in the practice of psychotherapy. In P. J. Guerin (Ed.), Family therapy. New York: Gardner.Google Scholar
  3. Bowen, M. (1978). Family therapy in clinical practice (pp. 337–388). Northvale: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  4. Brown, J. (1999). Bowen family systems theory and practice: Illustration and critique. Australian New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 20, 94–103. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/j.1467-8438.1999.tb00363.x/pdf.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Haefner, J. (2014). An application of Bowen family systems theory. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 35, 835–841.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Harrison, V. (2003). Reproduction and emotional cutoff. In P. Titelman (Ed.), Emotional cutoff (pp. 245–269). New York: The Haworth Press.Google Scholar
  7. Klever, P. (2003). Marital functioning and multigenerational fusion and cutoff. In P. Titelman (Ed.), Emotional cutoff (pp. 219–243). New York: The Haworth Press.Google Scholar
  8. McCollum, E. E. (1991). A scale to measure Bowen’s concept of emotional cutoff. Contemporary Family Therapy, 13(3), 247–254.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00891804.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Titelman, P. (2003). Emotional cutoff in Bowen family systems theory: An overview. In P. Titelman (Ed.), Emotional cutoff (pp. 9–65). New York: The Haworth Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Michigan FlintFlintUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Molly Gasbarrini
    • 1
  1. 1.California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International UniversityLos AngelesUSA