Extraordinary Relationships: A New Way of Thinking about Human Interactions
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Extraordinary Relationships: A New Way of Thinking about Human Interactions

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  139 ratings  ·  24 reviews
This revolutionary book, based on the innovative Bowen Family Systems Theory, is truly the first self-help guide that shows how to improve and fully develop our individual selves by improving our relationships--from friendships and family to the workplace--and how we use them.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published December 20th 1992 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 1992)
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Apr 18, 2008 Danielle rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to improve their life
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-differentiate...more
This is an incredible book! The publishers put on a silly cover and made it sound like a dull self-help nightmare, but really it's an accessible explanation of Bowen's Multigenerational Family Systems Theory, which is by far the best counseling theory I've come across. Most theories tell you to look deeper to understand the self. This says to take many steps back, instead, to look at patterns in your family for at least 3 generations. When you do this several clear patterns emerge that are being...more
Gilbert does a good job explaining systems without making it sound technical. I appreciated the illustrations and the depth of the content of this book. At the ELCA church I serve, we used it as a base for a 10 week class - two chapters a night. The feedback from the participants was positive. Several had read 8 Concepts and Cornerstone Concept, also by Gilbert. Those who had not read her before or were new to Bowen Family System's Theory still enjoyed the book and the class time.
I am recommend...more
This is the best self help book I have read, a layman's explanation of Bowen's family system theory. Observe patterns in your nuclear and extended families, adjust your own behavior and responses, and experience improved relationships. Know thyself and become a more mature and secure human being.
At the core of each of us is a ratio of togetherness and individuality. The togetherness is evolutionary; it is at least somewhat explained by the pack mentality. When one of a pack senses a threat, that anxiety is transferred to the rest as a survival mechanism. This may also be the instinctual part of us that craves acceptance, that worries over what others think, whether we are loved as much as we love, etc. The individuality (a uniquely American/Western phenomenon??) is our core being, our c...more
A very helpful and accessible discussion of Bowen Systems Theory. After slogging through Kerr & Bowen's Family Evaluation, I was much relieved at the accessibility of this book. In reviewing my notes, I find many positive comments. My main negatives were her adoption of too absolutist a position about the supposed ill effects of "cutoff" on P. 62, and a naive fetishization of sexuality in her discussion of friendship on P. 150. The former is just a reflection of her devotion to her mentors,...more
Ruth Segal
Feb 26, 2008 Ruth Segal rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who has relationships with others, human or otherwise.
Hopefully this is the only self-help book I will ever review! I just have to share it though!
This book sums up Bowen Family Theory, which basically is about having a sence of self (or not) and how that affects every relationship in one's life. It is short, cuts right to the chase, and has been extremely helpful to me in recognizing ways I still sometimes relate to people in the way I was trained in childhood so I can snap out of it and be my real self!
Clearly explains the concepts of Bowen Theory, which I've been studying for a few years. As soon as I finished the book, I was tempted to start reading it again. A good book to own as I will probably revisit many of the chapters over and over again.
Scott Hopkins
I have been in Dr. Gilbert's seminar on LEADERSHIP for three years. The theory of Murray Bowen MD is powerful enough to change any life or life situation regardless who it is and what situation they are in. It has given me better relationsips and LEADERSHIP POSITIONS in my vocation that ANYTHING I HAVE EVER BEEN IN! Read this book !!
An interesting read from a social/psychological viewpoint -- not "pleasure reading" per se. But the presentation is accessible, informational, helpful and worth the effort. Helps to see relationships from a new perspective, to understand the underpinnings of how we approach, enter, and handle relationships based on our inner selves.
Easy to read version of Friedman/Bowen theory. I find this stuff invaluable as a pastor, but I think it would be helpful for any career that involves managing people. Great reference for systems stuff, family issues, premarital counseling, and just general better understanding of human emotional structures.
Kat Brock
I found this helpful. It made me view my own family dynamic in a different way, therefore rethinking my own relationships. Learning how to relate to family and personal relationships has been made a little easier to realize because of this book.
One of those books one should re-read to keep perspective about all kinds of relationships (family, romantic, work, etc) and re-aligning one's own expectations in each of those relationships. The provided case studies make it easy to relate to the situations and how they may fit your own life.
Scott Lewis
This practical guide to Bowen Family Systems, also explains the theory for personal use, both individually and with groups. Though the emphasis seems to be on pairings the exploration of parallels between family or origin and ongoing relationships is well explained and accessible.
The book provides a family therapist's perspective on relationships. It walks through concepts like differentiation of self, dealing with various negative relationship patterns. A very useful read, with a good bunch of ideas to try out.
A very good - albeit a little repetitive application of family systems theory for the context of most human relationships. Full of very helpful examples backed by solid theory.
Cy Helm
Dr. Gilbert provides clear descriptions of the basic concepts in Murray Bowen's Natural Systems Theory.
DJ Seifert
A nice primer of sorts (Bowen theory) toward building healthier and/or supporting family relationships
I think this book really helps cut through a lot of crap and improve relationships.
Jennifer McEwen
This book made me realize just how screwed up I really am!!
Very accessible, practical introduction to family systems theory.
Interesting systems theory applied to the workplace.
great family systems insight impacting all relationships
Sharon Campbell
A life changing read
Robert Jones
Robert Jones marked it as to-read
Jul 01, 2014
Ashia marked it as to-read
Jun 20, 2014
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“People frequently point to communication as a problem, because its easy to notice, but usually it is a symptom of an underlying problem with a relationship posture.” 7 likes
“It takes two to have a fight.” 6 likes
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