Bowen family systems theory is about the emotional functioning of the human species. The theory is grounded in known facts about human functioning and about the human species as part of life on Earth.
Bowen family systems theory is comprised of eight concepts. Each concept has been added only after its factual basis has been established. The theory postulated that the human family is a multigenerational, natural, living system and that the emotional functioning of each member of the system affects the functioning of the other members in predictable ways.
An emotion is the automatic response of an organism to its environment, including others with whom the organism is in relationship. A natural, living system is one that is shaped by the selective forces of nature which affect whether and how the system survives from generation to generation. Each member of a natural, living system responds to these selective forces in basic, fundamental ways; that is, in emotional ways. Emotions may be transmitted between and among individuals who are members of the system and it is through this emotional process that each member of a natural living system may affect the functioning of other members of the system.