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Strategic systemic approach and hypnosis

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      Gregory Bateson's theory of the double bind is fundamental to family therapy. Conflicting family messages can lead to psychological problems. Clear and consistent communication is essential in family dynamics.

      Bateson's theory shows that communication affects mental health and relationships

      Communication theory

      “Information is a difference that makes a difference.” -Gregory Bateson, 1973

      In the mid-20th century, Gregory Bateson and his colleagues (Bateson, G., Jackson, DD, Haley, J., & Weakland, J., 1956) introduced a revolutionary concept that reshaped our understanding of the role of communication in psychological disorders. The double bind theory, as it has been called, suggests a complex interaction between family communication patterns and the development of schizophrenia and other emotional disorders. This theory posits that when an individual is caught in a web of conflicting messages with no clear escape route, the psychological toll can be profound (Watzlawick, P., Beavin, JH, & Jackson, DD, 1967).

      Main characteristics of a double bind situation

      Two or more contradictory messages: Individuals are confronted with messages that contradict each other, creating a paradoxical situation where the response to one message cancels out the other. No escape: The individual is unable to leave the paradoxical situation or resolve the conflict without suffering negative consequences.

      Repeated Experience: This cycle of mixed messages is not a unique case; it is a pattern that repeats itself, reinforcing the double bind.

      Practical examples of double bind situations show how omnipresent and varied paradoxical modes of communication

      In parental messages, a child encouraged to express emotions freely is chastised for doing so, teaching the child that openness is both necessary and punished.

      In a professional scenario, an employee may be encouraged to be decisive and independent, then criticized for not seeking approval, trapping them in a cycle of conflicting expectations.

      In a relationship dynamic, demands for spontaneity are countered by criticism for not adhering to unspoken rules, leaving partners confused and constrained.

      These examples illustrate the problematic nature of the double bind and highlight the importance of clear and consistent communication, especially with people who rely on us for guidance and understanding. The double bind creates a no-win situation that can lead to significant stress, confusion, and possible emotional or psychological problems over time (Bateson, 1973).

      Communication and well-being

      Bateson's groundbreaking work, including the seminal text Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia (Bateson et al., 1956), laid the groundwork for recognizing how specific patterns of communication within families could contribute to schizophrenia. . Bateson, who had a background in anthropology, extended his academic research into psychiatry and systems theory, collaborating with renowned figures to explore the complexities of human communication (Bateson, 1972) and study the effects of communication on behavior.

      His work at the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital and subsequent research supported by the Rockefeller Foundation grant highlighted an innovative approach to understanding mental illness through communication patterns (Bateson et al., 1956) . Before this work, it was rare to hear couples say in therapy that they had a communication problem.

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      The importance of relationships

      The legacy and relevance of Bateson's work

      Decades after its introduction, the double bind hypothesis remains vital to psychotherapeutic theory and practice. Bateson's interdisciplinary legacy extends beyond the boundaries of psychiatry and influences psychology, anthropology, and the development of family therapy (Hoffman, L., 1981; Lipset, D., 1980). The theory's emphasis on the systemic nature of mental health problems has encouraged a more holistic approach to treatment, focusing not only on the individual but also on broader social contexts.

      Family dynamics

      Bateson's nuanced understanding of power dynamics within communicative relationships further enriched psychotherapeutic discourse, highlighting how differential power dynamics within human systems contribute to relational pathologies (Bateson, 1979). This exploration of power in therapy has influenced various therapeutic approaches, from strategic therapy to feminist and postmodern critiques (Watzlawick, P., Beavin, JH, & Jackson, DD, 1967).

      Conclusion

      By revisiting Bateson's contributions to psychotherapy and communication theory, we find enduring ideas and methodologies for addressing complex communication patterns within families. Bateson's work is a source of inspiration and guidance for practitioners tackling mental health issues today, and his work remains relevant because it demonstrates real clarity and innovation. Its influence now extends across disciplines, emphasizing the importance of understanding and addressing the psychosocial factors that influence mental health. Bateson's legacy reminds us of the power of communication in shaping human experience and the transformative potential of psychotherapy to address the complex web of relationships that define our lives.

      Where to train in the systemic and strategic approach?

      LACT offers several live certifying web training courses with 50 international trainers.

      References

      • Bateson, G., Jackson, D.D., Haley, J., & Weakland, J. (1956). Toward a theory of schizophrenia. Behavioral Science, 1(4), 251-264.
      • Bateson, G., Jackson, D.D., Haley, J., & Weakland, J.H. (1956). Toward a theory of schizophrenia. Behavioral Science, 1(4), 251-264. https://doi.org/10.1002/bs.3830010402
      • Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an ecology of mind: Collection of essays in anthropology, psychiatry, evolution and epistemology. Chandler Publishing Company.
      • Bateson, G. (1979). Spirit and nature: A necessary unity. Dutton.
      • Hoffman, L. (1981). The foundations of family therapy. A conceptual framework for systems change. New York: Basic Books.
      • Lipset, D. (1980). Gregory Bateson. A scientist's legacy. Boston: Beacon Press.
      • Watzlawick, P., Beavin, J. H., & Jackson, D. D. (1967). Pragmatics of human communication. A Study of Interactional Patterns, Pathologies, and Paradoxes. New York: WW Norton & Co.

      A team of more than
      50 trainers in France
      and abroad

      of our students satisfied with
      their training year at LACT *

      International partnerships

      The quality certification was issued under
      the following category of actions: Training action

      A team of more than
      50 trainers in France
      and abroad

      of our students satisfied with
      their training year at LACT *

      International partnerships

      The quality certification was issued under
      the following category of actions: Training action

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