This video, recorded by Dr. Bowen in 1979, has been used extensively in training programs at the Center. It is regarded by many as one of the most important tapes they have seen for learning about interdependence within systems and the relationship between systems.
In this lecture, Dr. Bowen describes how the family system, the work system, and the social system function interdependently and how anxiety influences relationships in these interlocking systems. The family is part of a vast system of interlocking triangles including the workplace and society. The greater the level of emotional dependence in the family, the more sensitive the family is to anxiety in the work system and in other social systems, and in society.
Dr. Bowen begins with a description of the patterns of a three person system, starting with the original triangle with one's parents which leads to the impairment of one child more than the others. This anxiety driven process also occurs in other species. Dr. Bowen describes Dr. Jack Calhoun's work with mice populations to illustrate this point.
Dr. Bowen then describes how this process, which leads to variation in the functioning of offspring, also operates in larger systems, especially the workplace. As within the family, the level of anxiety and degree of emotional autonomy of those in the system are the variables that influence the functioning of the system. The characteristics of an individual in a family who will take responsibility for self rather than blame others are the same characteristics that make a good administrator. It is possible for one person to have an amazing effect on the system.