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A pivotal development in the history of psychology was the invention of family systems theory by psychiatrist Murray Bowen. He was among the first to observe families in a naturalistic setting, and his observations informed his ideas about families as ‘systems’ that functioned as ‘emotional units.’ Michael E. Kerr served as Dr. Bowen’s right-hand-man for many years, and he recently published a book showcasing the unique insights offered by family systems theory, entitled Bowen Theory’s Secrets: Revealing the Hidden Life of Families (Norton & Company, 2019). In our interview, Dr. Kerr discusses Murray Bowen’s journey from curious psychiatry resident to household name, and he explains with unique clarity and thoroughness some of the most revolutionary ideas from systems theory. This interview will interest anyone interested in better understanding how families function and the reciprocal influences between individuals and their families.

Michael E. Kerr, M.D. is a psychiatrist who has specialized in the practice of Bowen theory-guided family therapy for over 45 years. He became Emeritus Director of the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family in 2011 after succeeding Murray Bowen ad directing the Center for 20 years. He is President of the Bowen Theory Academy in Islesboro, Maine.

Eugenio Duarte, Ph.D. is a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Miami. He treats individuals and couples, with specialties in gender and sexuality, eating and body image problems, and relationship issues. He is also a university psychologist at Florida International University’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center, where he coordinates the eating disorders service. He is a graduate and faculty of William Alanson White Institute and former chair of their LGBTQ Study Group. He is also a contributing author to the book Introduction to Contemporary Psychoanalysis: Defining Terms and Building Bridges (Routledge, 2018).

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