Lectures are held at the Bowen Center at 7:30 pm on the 2018-2019 calendar dates shown below. The lectures are free and open to the public. On-street parking is available. Doors open at 7:00 pm.

The Professional Lecture Series focus on the family as a natural system and on knowledge from the study of other natural systems. A distinctive feature of this meeting is the length of time the presenter is given to develop and illustrate ideas and entertain discussion.

Can’t attend the lectures in DC? The lecture and discussion are streamed on our Facebook Live page. (Please note that if you participate in the discussion portion, your questions/comments will be streamed during the live broadcast, as well as recorded and saved onto Facebook.) Livestreamed recordings will be saved on the Bowen Center’s Facebook page to view.

You can also listen to the audio recordings on our website or on Apple Podcasts. Search “The Bowen Center” to find The Professional Lecture podcast.

Dates for the Professional Lecture Series for 2018-2019

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Lectures from the Past Academic Year

October 5, 2017

Why We Snap: The Neuroscience of Sudden Aggression
R. Douglas Fields, PhD
Neuroscientist and Author, Bethesda, MD

Dr. Fields will be speaking about the mechanisms of sudden acts of anger and violence – from the everyday to the extreme – from a neuroscience perspective. Daily headlines are filled with examples of rational people with no history of violence or mental illness suddenly snapping in a domestic dispute, bar room brawl, or road-rage attack. It is natural for humans to want to be in control of ones’ actions, but the truth is that the right trigger in the right circumstances can unleash a fit of rage in almost anyone. As explained in his latest book, Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in the Brain (Dutton/Penguin), the neuroscience of threat detection is responsible for both sudden aggression and heroism. Dr. Fields will discuss the nine triggers that cause people to snap and how one can defuse them.

December 7, 2017

Navigating the Waters of Adolescence – Moving from Surviving to Thriving in the Education Experience
Amie Post, MA, LCMFT
Executive/Clinical Director of the Family Crisis Center, Baltimore County, MD
Administrator and Faculty Member at the Bowen Center, Washington, DC

Like a small rowboat in a big ocean, parenting an adolescent can leave adults feeling like they are far from safe harbor with no oars. Spend any time on Facebook and a parent will encounter advice, cajoling, and even criticism about how to parent. Carpool lines and soccer field sidelines are full of stories of how parents navigate the challenges of raising children. Through case study presentations and conversations with parents, grandparents, and educators (and anyone else who encounters adolescents on the loose), one can develop ways to think about their responsibilities to youth in their teen years for navigating the waters of this stage of human development.

January 11, 2018

Operationalizing the Concept of Differentiation of Self for Family Research
Randall Frost, MDiv
Family Therapist and Pastoral Counsellor
Director of Training and Research at Living Systems, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Faculty Member at the Bowen Center, Washington, DC

The multi-faceted concept of differentiation of self includes numerous variables which, taken together, describe variation in lifestyle of individuals and families. This presentation will review and evaluate some of the ways in which the concept has been operationalized for purposes of family research. Other concepts such as resilience, coping, adaptation, and self-esteem will also be examined for their possible relevance to research on differentiation of self.

February 1, 2018

Bowen and Friedman: Two Systems Thinkers
Carol P. Jeunnette, MDiv, PhD, Lutheran minister and a leader in the Voyageurs clergy group, and Anne S. McKnight, EdD, LCSW, Director of The Bowen Center

Rabbi Edwin Friedman was a colleague and student of Murray Bowen’s family systems theory. As a dynamic speaker and brilliant thinker, he applied systems theory to the lives of clergy and the work of congregational life. Although he adopted some of Bowen’s concepts taken from natural systems, he added his own ideas in distinctive ways. The two speakers will address their different perspectives about their similarities and differences in their ideas.

The Rev. Dr. Carol Jeunette and Dr. McKnight will each present their ideas followed by discussion.

March 8, 2018

“Your son is a drug addict, and I want to abolish my engagement”: An American’s Perspective on the Role of In-Laws and Extended Family in Afghan Marriages
Hillary Forden, Esq.
Senior Justice Sector Program Advisor, U.S. State Department

Ms. Forden will discuss the defining role that parents and other family members play in arranging Afghan marriages and the relationships that follow. An explanation of domestic violence in Afghanistan with a focus on violence perpetrated by in-laws and other non-intimate partners will follow. Ms. Forden will discuss Afghanistan’s modern family domestic violence laws which protect the rights of women and girls, vis-à-vis the family, and the challenge they pose to traditional family, sex and domestic violence with Afghan decision-makers and the realization that not all truths are self-evident.

Please Note: This presentation will not be livestreamed or recorded.

April 12, 2018

How to Tame a Fox and Build a Dog
Lee Alan Dugatkin, PhD
Biologist and Historian of Science, Professor and University Scholar, Department of Biology, The University of Louisville in Kentucky

For the last six decades a dedicated team of researchers in Siberia has been domesticating silver foxes to replay the evolution of the dog in real time. Lyudmila Trut has been lead scientist on this work since 1959, and together with biologist and historian of science, Lee Dugatkin, she tells the inside story of the science, politics, adventure, and love behind it all. Together these two risked not just their careers, but to an extent their lives, to make scientific history. If you go one level deeper, you find yourself lost in the magical tale of how some hardscrabble but openhearted humans and the wild animals which they domesticated developed such deep attachments to each other that both seemed to forget the species divide between them.

Location: George Mason University Arlington Campus, Founders Hall, Room 113, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201

May 17, 2018

A Partnership, a Marriage, the Search for Cures and How Bowen Theory Helped Chart the Course
Michael R. Ruff, PhD
CEO and President of Creative Bio-Peptides, Inc.

Dr. Ruff was both a partner in life through marriage and in research with Candace B. Pert, PhD., with their discovery of Peptide-T which controlled the pain and extended thousands of lives in the treatment of the HIV virus. This discovery opened the door to a non-opioid treatment for pain. Dr. Pert contributed to the founding of the field of MindBody (her term) medicine in the mid-1980’s. Her sudden death in September 2013 created a whirlpool of reactivity in the family and their business requiring significant changes for Dr. Ruff in the last 5 years. These included a successful court action to give credit to Dr. Pert for her discoveries and his creation of a new business, Creative Bio-Peptides, Inc.

June 7, 2018

Application of Theory: Toward Resolving Degrees of Unresolved Emotional Attachment
Selden Dunbar Illick, LCSW
Bowen Family Systems Consultant

Dr. Murray Bowen stated: “The degree of unresolved emotional attachment to the parents is equivalent to the degree of undifferentiation that must somehow be handled in a person’s own life and in future generations” (Bowen, 1978, p. 382). He observed that all people have some degree of unresolved emotional attachment from their parents. These emotional attachments in the parental triangle formed at birth are initially necessary for survival. In the process of growing up and moving toward increasing independence, individuals come up against degrees of unresolved emotional attachment, or as Bowen sometimes described it, emotional dependencies. This presentation describes one person’s effort over time to apply Bowen Family Systems Theory to resolve degrees of unresolved emotional attachment in the parental triangle.