I. Differentiation of self – Bowen’s concept of psychological separation of intellect and emotions, and independence of self from others; opposite fusion. Delores, the 49 year-old daughter of Delores and James Hill seems to be struggling the most in the area of differentiation of self. One doesn’t need to spend a lot of time with Delores in seeing this or hearing about it from her family. Her 53 year-old husband Gary once commented that he has learned to walk on eggshells in some areas because Delores can be so self-critical and easily offended.
Delores will change her outfit several times consecutively if she doesn’t feel her outfit has the immediate and positive approval of those who initially see her outfit. This seems to carry over into her daily life where she seems to need the constant approval and acceptance of her husband and friends to feel she is acceptable as a person. She will change her opinion, dress and thoughts to conform to those around her even if it goes against her authentic self and beliefs.
II. Emotional triangle – A three person relationship system. It is considered to be the building block or “module” of larger emotional systems because a triangle is the smallest stable relationship system. In the Hill family, moderate levels of tension in the emotional triangle can be observed. This moderate level of tension is caused by two sides being in harmony and one side being in conflict (Bowen, 2004, p.1). In this case, the two sides in harmony are the father James and the 7 year-old daughter, Alexandria. Dawn, the wife of James is a stay-at-home mother and she attempts to address problems she has with their daughter to her husband when he comes home from work. Because James usually works 12-hour work shifts due to financial reasons, he feels it is not his duty to discipline the daughter he often only sees on occasional weekends.
He feels this is the only time he has to bond with his daughter. This is causing James’ wife Dawn to be the side of the triangle in conflict due to the fact that the father and daughter are closing Dawn out in a sense because they are comfortable with the relationship how it is. Whereas Dawn feels James needs to “step up to the plate” and become more of a father and less of a play pal to his 7 year old daughter, Alexandria. Dawn admits to being jealous that James gets to have “all of the fun” with Alexandria while she is seen as the disciplinarian to their only child. Dawn feels this is taking away from the time she would like to just enjoy her daughter like her husband does.
III. Nuclear family emotional process – Four basic relationship patterns that govern where problems develop in a family. These four patterns are marital conflict, dysfunction in one spouse, impairment in one or more children and emotional distance. Several of these patterns can be seen in the relationship between husband and wife, James and Dawn Hill. The marital conflict is apparent where James and Dawn are focusing on what is wrong with one another. The wife, Dawn is pressuring James to see the child rearing issue her way although at this point I don’t see either being the subordinate spouse that yields to the other. Their anxiety is focused on their only child, Alexandria. Observers of this relationship can also see the emotional distance as James continues to work additional hours and on the weeknights just accompanies himself with warmed up food in front of the late night television programs.
IV. Family projection process- In Bowen theory, the mechanism by parental conflicts is projected into the children or a spouse.
The projection process follows three steps:
(1) the parent focuses on a child out of fear that something is wrong with the child;
(2) the parent interprets the child’s behavior as confirming the fear; and
(3) the parent treats the child as if something is really wrong with the child
Here again, the most obvious relationship in this family which seems to clearly exemplify this family projection concept would be the relationship between James Hill II and Dawn Hill. Dawn is the one focusing on what she perceives to be problems with the child, Alexandria. Alexandria’s attention-seeking behavior is confirming Dawn’s fear that something is wrong with her daughter. Dawn is then treating Alexandria as if she is a problem child, rather than looking at the marriage between her and her husband as perhaps being the focus of what is causing Alexandria to “act out” as her mother says.
V. Multi generational transmission process-Bowen’s concept for the process occurring overall several generating in which poorly differential person marry equally immature patterns. This ultimately results in children suffering from severe psychological problems. In the case of the Hill family, this could be seen most in the patterns of James’ and Delores’ third child, Delores. Ironically named after her mother, Delores never felt like she was really a part of the family. Delores would even point out in pictures how she was the “misfit of the family” and felt that she was the only child her parents weren’t proud of. Delores’ mother of the same name seemed especially critical and overly helpful to her daughter, Delores. One could wonder if this is perhaps due to the fact that the daughter carries her name, she is now representing the mother. Regardless, the daughter seemes to feed off of this and views herself as someone who could not follow through on a task or project without needing “extra” help. Her mother and siblings seem to stand at her side to assist only too often.
VI. Sibling position – People who grow up in the same sibling position predictably have important common characteristics. The characteristics of one position are not “better” than those of another position, but are complementary. In the Bowen Theory, Murray Bowen states, “A youngest child who is anxiously focused on may become an unusually helpless and demanding person” (Bowen, 2004, p.1). This can be best exemplified by observing Mustafa and Helima’s son, Jamila. The younger brother of Lequman by only two years, Jamila has learned to exert very little energy into obtaining what he wants. Although now 16 years old, he is still treated by the family as the “baby of the family” and it is taking its toll on the family in a way they hardly seem to notice now. I feel the family will be more likely to reap the repercussions of ignoring and enabling the behavior when Jamila gets to the age where he should be learning to become self-sufficient.
VII. Emotional Cutoff – This concept describes people who manage their unresolved emotional issues with parents, siblings, and other family members by reducing or totally cutting off emotional contact with them. Emotional contact can be reduced by people moving away from their families and rarely going home, or it can be reduced by people staying in physical contact with their families but avoiding sensitive issues. The emotional cutoff seen in the Hill family occurs in the case of James and Delores’ daughter Delores. Although one-on-one most members of the Hill family recognizes and will discusses the friction between mother and daughter, it
is an unspoken “sensitive issue” Bowen refers to in his emotion cutoff concepts (Bowen, 2004, p.1). It looks as if this is one of the issues which has remained dormant and unresolved even though it is an obvious strain on the multi-generational Hill family’s relationship.
Bowen, M (2004). Bowen Theory. Retrieved March 24, 2007, from Georgetown Family Center
Web site: http://thebowencenter.org/pages/conceptds.html
Galvin, K (2000). Basic Genogram Components. Retrieved March 24, 2007, from Basic
Web site: http://faculty-web.at.northwestern.edu/
Warlick, D (2006). Son of Citation Machine. Retrieved March 24, 2007, from Citation Machine
Web site: http://citationmachine.net/index.php?source=39#here
Cite this Family genmogram
Family genmogram. (2016, Dec 08). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/family-genmogram/