ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
For the last quarter century or more the Bowen Center has hosted interdisciplinary conferences featuring noted natural scientists and students of the Bowen theory. This Sixth Conference on individual variation, The Impact of Relationships on Individual Variation, takes place in the centennial year of Dr. Bowen’s birth and continues the long-term effort of the Bowen Center to make and maintain “viable contact with science.”
This year’s conference will feature scientists from anthropology, neuroscience, primatology, and entomology, along with a number of well known students of Bowen theory. It will provide an opportunity for participants, both the presenters and the audience, to exchange information and ideas and to explore the question of how individuals within a species and within a family come to differ so significantly from one another.
If past Variation Conferences give any indication of what is to come, this year’s discussion will be exciting, informative, and challenging. Behind the give-and-take lies a deeper question: How does scientific fact fit with theoretical formulation and how do both contribute to the development of a science of human behavior? If John B. Calhoun’s vision of the future was correct — that a science of human behavior will be essential if mankind is to pass successfully through the “eye of the needle” as Calhoun called it — the intersection of human population growth with the ecological changes that it promotes will affect the nature of life itself, both for the human and for all living things. We do indeed live in interesting times!
Welcome and Introduction
Social Endocrinology of Family Relationships - Mark V. Flinn, PhD
This talk reviews the endocrinology that underpins family relationships and examines an apparent puzzling aspect of “falling in love” — the temporary deactivation of parts of the brain that are involved in the assessment of other people’s intentions and emotions.
A Family Therapist's View of Human Development - Daniel V. Papero, PhD, MSSW
In a reciprocal process of many-sided relationship interactions, the development of the individual and the modification of the family as the context of development go hand-in-hand. From that complex interaction across time individual variation of individuals emerges alongside variation of the family itself in terms of its behaviors and capacity to adapt to challenge.
Adaptation, Compensation, and Resilience in Vervet Monkey Families - Lynn A. Fairbanks, PhD
Research on maternal behavior and juvenile development of vervet monkeys demonstrates the complex interplay between maternal condition, maternal behavior, and the response of infant and juvenile monkeys to variation in maternal care. Infants and juveniles play an active role in their own development and are largely resilient to early adversity within the expectable range of experience, but inhibitory effects are evident under novel and challenging circumstances.
Growing Apart: Variation in Emotional Separation in Mother- Infant Chimpanzee Pairs - Kathleen B. Kerr, MSN, MA
Research on mother-infant chimpanzee pairs studied at Gombe Stream Research Centre shows wide variability in a number of variables tracking physical separation of mothers and infants and the infants gradual movement to independence. Does such variation reflect variation in emotional separation as described by Bowen theory and will it be predictive of adult functioning?
The Neuroendocrinology of Family Life in Marmoset Monkeys - Jeffrey A. French, PhD
Marmoset monkeys display an unusual social phenotype among mammalian species, which includes care of offspring by both males and females (biparental care), social monogamy, and extended family social groups. This presentation will review some of the neuroendocrine substrates of this complex phenotype, including its regulation and modulation by steroid hormones. I will further review recent work on the molecular genetics of the neuropeptide oxytocin (including unique changes in the hormone itself and in cell receptors for this hormone) and the role that oxytocin may play in marmoset social life.
Epigenetics & Inheritance: Evolving Perspectives on Gene-Environment Interplay - Frances A. Champagne, PhD
Epigenetic pathways are a critical mechanism for linking experiences to variation in neurobiological and behavioral outcomes. I will discuss the evidence for an epigenetic basis of environmentally-mediated individual differences and describe how these effects can impact future generations.
A Distinction between Bowen Theory and Evolutionary Theory - Michael E. Kerr, MD
Bowen theory is based on the fact that evolution has occurred, not on a theory of how evolution has occurred. Key aspects of Bowen theory are that it describes a basis for individual variation in emotional functioning between human beings and also explains how that variation develops.
The Role of the Primal Social Affective Emotions in Programming the Higher Prosocial Brain - Jaak Panksepp, PhD
Subcortical social-affective networks of mammalian brains have been evolutionarily designed to control learning and thinking in higher brain regions. Thus the neural understanding of core affective processes, homologous in all mammals, is of critical importance for appreciating how our higher mental processes, and social lives, are constructed through life experiences.
Family and the Development of Stable Individual Differences in Adaptiveness - Robert J. Noone, PhD
Over the course of prolonged parental care and lengthy brain development, the human family has been observed to generate stable individual differences in adaptiveness among offspring. According to Bowen theory this variation is hypothesized to result from what has been described as the differentiation of the intellectual system. Over multiple generations this process is seen as leading to a wider range of adaptive and maladaptive functioning among descendants.
Presentation of the Caskie Research Award
Effects of Different Early Social Relationships on Behavioral, Biological, and Epigenetic Development in Rhesus Monkeys - Stephen J. Suomi, PhD
Governance of Human Social Systems from a Bowen Theory Perspective - Patricia A. Comella, JD
Within the framework of Bowen theory, human emotional systems experiencing chronic sustained anxiety, including those at the societal level, will retreat toward automaticity in functioning. Underlying lying patterns of reactivity to threat will increasingly dominate behavior and functioning at multiple levels of the system and functional level of differentiation overall will degrade.