B's past- we need to get to the bottom of them. Was there actual sexual or physical abuse, or just a fear of abandonment; what about Mrs. B's mother during this trauma. Why has the issue been buried so many years? What underlying family factors caused this min-crisis? Was it the communication, or the pornography issue that caused the disconnect?
Bowen sees sibling position determining personality, based on previous work in the field. We do not have this information at this time, but need to explore it to see if it is relevant.
Did Mrs. B. have siblings? If so, what was the relationship between them; are there issues of abandonment that are common? Explore.
Nuclear Family Emotional System
Bowen sees this as the most basic unit in society. For Mr. B., the locus of what he saw as a nuclear family and what was being manifested was a complete disconnect. When relationships form, according to Bowen, people tend to seek out like minded -- thus, what happened between the husband and wife? Mr. B. sees the evolution of the family as moving away from a nuclear family as the child (ren) age, and he and his wife drift apart due to career, life, etc.
Therapy needs to discover what picture the family has about its relationships -- does Mrs. B feel in danger of losing control of her family -- is she caught up in career, or is she feeling her husband and family moving away from her for other reasons? How important is family to her? Using Bowen as a therapeutic model, we would need to establish that framework within a systems design to see what was necessary to engender a more cohesive, trusting family life.
Is there an addiction to Internet pornography? What external factors is Mr. B facing at work, with his peers; does he have social outlets? What is his overall life satisfaction?
Does Mrs. B feel she cannot ever be as sexual as Mr. B's pornography? Are they mutually exclusive. What is Mrs. B's overall life satisfaction index at present? Is she working? Does she have friends? Is her world shattering or just home life?
Nature vs. Nurture within the household? Discover from Mr. B's perspective what the last few years have been like -- does the family play together? Dine together? Converse? Do they have lives that intertwine, or are their lives fairly separate at this point?
The emotional system for Mrs. B is clearly at risk right now. What behaviors are she and Mr. B. exhibiting that cause these kinds of disconnects? Do they converse about their feelings? Do they support each other emotionally in and out of the family dynamic?
Family projection process
What is the content; in other words, the specific concerns, fears, needs, feelings, subjectively determined attitudes, values, beliefs -- the family culture that each experiences? The content inherited by Mr. B is clearly not that inherited by Mrs. B. What traits are the B's placing upon their children?
Will working with Mrs. B and her parents also unveil a missing reality step; what is Mrs. B remembering that might be misinterpreted (e.g. anxiety or nervousness, not meanness)? What was the way fear was expressed and handled in Mrs. B's family -- how is that contributing to her current issues?
(Sources: Titelman, 1998, 2003; Blume, 2006, Thombs, 2006; Kerr and Bowen, 1988).
Additional References Consulted:
Blume, T. (2006). Becoming a Family Counselor. New York: John Wiley.
Kerr, M. And Bowen, M. (1988). Family Evaluation. New York: W.W. Norton.
Thombs, D. (2006). Introduction to Addictive Behaviors. New York: Guilford Press.
Titleman, P., ed. (1998). Clinical Applications of Bowen Family Systems Theory. Hayworth,…