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Extraordinary Relationships: A New Way of Thinking About Human Interactions 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471346906
ISBN-10: 047134690X
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Turn any Relationship into an Extraordinary Relationship "A refreshing alternative to common self-help approaches." —Michael E. Kerr, M.D., Director, Georgetown Family Center, Washington, D.C. and coauthor with Dr. Murray Bowen of Family Evaluation After food, water, and shelter, relationships are the most important factors in determining your quality of life. At work, productivity and efficiency depend on relationships. At home, relationships with your spouse, children, and friends are keys to success and happiness. And among nations, relationships start and stop wars. This invaluable guide shows that only by further developing yourself can you further develop your relationships. Based on the innovative family systems theory pioneered by the late Dr. Murray Bowen, this important and penetrating book offers practical and authoritative family therapy advice that has helped thousands of people throughout the last three decades. It’s a blueprint to better relationships that tells how the principles of family systems theory can be used in all arenas of your life, including intimate relationships, friendships, family relationships, single life, workplace relationships, international relationships, and your relationship with yourself. "A perfect and unpretentious primer of family relationships … a relief to read." —Dr. Walter Toman, Professor Emeritus, Erlangen-Nürnberg University, Germany, and author of Family Constellation

About the Author

Roberta Gilbert, M.D., is a psychiatrist in private practice and on the faculty of the Georgetown Family Center.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (December 6, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047134690X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471346906
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book presents in easily understandable form the Bowen family system theory approach to human interaction. This is a "systems" approach to better relationships in which eight carefully researched principles show how groups of individuals, such as a nuclear family, interact and what governs those interactions. Rather than present a few "how to" examples, the author presents the theory and uses examples in the process of explaining the theory. The idea is to teach the principles. By understanding these principles and how individuals interact as a system, people can improve their own lives and better understand how to resolve or avoid problems in families and groups of people by understanding and treating the underlying causes rather than the superficial symptoms. The book is very well written by the author who is a practicing psychiatrist and specialist in family therapy and, in particular, in Bowen family system theory. Highly recommended for parents, leaders in organizations, and those in the helping professions.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gives an explanation of Bowen's family system theory. The first half of the book is heavy on the theory, and then the second half gets into a little bit of how to use it in real life. It doesn't read like a self-help book, and Gilbert gets props for not using words like "codependence" and other jingoistic psychobabbly words. She's completely blunt and realistic, and it's all well-written.

The basic theory is this: in order to have good relationships, you have to be a well-differentiated, individual self. This means that you have solid boundaries, and you can relate to other people without "lending and borrowing" the self, as Gilbert says. Or in my view, you can be friends with people without trying to become them or making them become you. Ironically, in order to work on being a differentiated self you have to do the work through your relationships. None of us are perfectly differentiated, so we can all improve our basic selves and our relationships. The less differentiated we are, the more anxiety in our relationships (because we get all tense about them), and the more they take on the following five postures, which can relieve anxiety in the short term but only mess things up more over time: conflict, distancing, triangling, under/over-functioning, and cut-off.

Probably the most important aspect of this theory is that undifferentiation and relationship postures are carried on from generation to generation. So it's not really your parents fault, but yes you learned it all from them, and they learned it from their parents, etc etc. Also your own level of differentiation and the postures you adopt in relationships are based on how you interacted with your entire family of origin, not just your parents.
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Format: Paperback
This book was a revelation. Finally an approach which doesn't place blame and encourages individuals to take responsibility for themselves without blaming others. Relationships can only get better if you become your own, whole person first. This theory applies not only to the relationships in ones own family but for all interpersonal relationships. This theory is obviously not well accepted within the psychology/psychiatry community. I wish my therapist had discussed this process.
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Format: Paperback
Whenever I'm asked to recommend a book on systems theory, I suggest Gilbert's book. She does an excellent job of accurately covering the theory, but an added bonus is her clear writing style, which makes often difficult concepts easier to digest. The book enjoys good organization. A good first choice for anyone needing an introduction to Bowen Family Systems Theory that focuses on relationships.
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Format: Hardcover
I was introduced to this book several years ago and it is a volume I turn to over and over. As the subtitle suggests, it offers a new way to help the reader look at his/her relationships and offers an innovative approach for reducing the quagmires we seem to keep getting into in them. If you are serious about improving your life and the quality of your relationships and want to invest some time and effort in yourself, you will want to read this book. I recommed it every chance I get!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Roberta Gilbert's "Extraordinary Relationships" offers useful advice for dealing with family relationships couched amidst an examination of systems theory. Although it is more technical than a lot of self help, it can be used by a general audience.
Gilbert examines the theory of Murray Bowen, who countered notions of individual psychology (like those of Freud) with the theory that personality develops as a result of a family unit. The nuclear family, like a herd of amimals, reacts against each other, speaking a common language that is known only to them. Children raised in that family then detach from the family to form their own adult relationships, where dynamics may follow the family system.
In order to heal adult problems, the author offers some practical advice, like taking the time to observe old patterns as they crop up (family Christmas fights come to mind) with the dispassionate mind of an observer. The author states that individuals will better be able to understand family dynamics and their role in them by doing this.
I've read this book twice, and it has helped me better understand my family, and my role within it. I would recommend it for those who are seeking to better understand their family of origin, and what they can do to improve their present life through understanding the past.
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