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Barriers to Science for Bowen theory

The field of Clinical Psychology has no broad, predictive theory to diagnose and guide the treatment of behavioral problems. Bowen theory is one attempt to organize all observations of human behavior into a single, integrative, and predictive framework. Bowen theory also stands alone as a conceptual system grounded first in evolution, with an emphasis on logical coherence in a world of divergent species.

However, Bowen theory has yet to enjoy scientific critique from outside the network of professionals who are already interested in it. With no formal explicit predictive models or comprehensive data set to support its claims, even good faith critics are left with mere mental logic and insufficient attention to evaluate its complex ideas. Further, a lack of explicit predictive models leaves the ideas vulnerable to erosion through a group process, a problem articulated by Murray Bowen himself.

These problems will be examined as impacted by pseudoscience. The term pseudoscience refers to knowledge systems mistakenly regarded as being scientific. This presentation will begin with a review of previous critics of psychological pseudoscience such as Popper, Lilienfeld, and including Murray Bowen. New markers will be proposed from experience learning and applying Bowen theory both within and without professional circles interested in the theory. The reviewed markers will be used to assess current limitations in Bowen theory and point to areas of future work. The goal is to help clarify when resources are steered toward generating scientific knowledge versus merely maintaining relationships.

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