First, I intend to attach very specific meaning to the title of this paper. An essential notion attached to the word "group" as I shall use it is the idea of relatedness between members. Our concern is not with the sort of phenomena which occur in experimentally formed groups of graduate students who have no previously determined habits of communication—no habitual differentiations of role. The group to which I mostly refer is the family; in general, those families in which the parents maintain an adjustment to the world around them without being recognized as grossly deviant, while one or more of their offspring differ conspicuously from the normal population in the frequency and obvious nature of their responses. I shall also be thinking of other groups analogous to these, i.e., ward organizations, which work in such a way as to promote schizophrenic or schizophrenoid behavior in some of the members.
The word "dynamics" is loosely and conventionally used for all studies of personal interaction and especially when they stress change or learning exhibited by the subjects. De-spite our following its conventional use, this word is a misnomer. It evokes analogies with physics which are totally false.
"Dynamics" is principally a language devised by physicists and mathematicians for the description of certain events. In this strict sense, the impact of one billiard ball upon an-other is subject matter for dynamics, but it would be an error of language to say that billiard balls "behave." Dynamics appropriately describe those events whose descriptions can be checked by asking whether they contravene the First Law of Thermodynamics, the Law of the Conservation of Energy. When one billiard ball strikes another, the motion of the second is energized by the impact of the first, and such transferences of energy are the central subject matter of dynamics. We, however, are not concerned with event sequences which have this characteristic. If I kick a stone, the movement of the stone is energized by the act, but if I kick a dog, the behavior of the dog may indeed be partly conservative—he may travel along a Newtonian trajectory if kicked hard enough, but this is mere physics. What is important is that he may exhibit responses which are energized not by the kick but by his metabolism; he may turn and bite.
This, I think, is what people mean by magic. The realm of phenomena in which we are interested is always characterized by the fact that "ideas" may influence events. To the physicist, this is a grossly magical hypothesis. It is one which cannot be tested by asking questions about the conservation of energy.
* The ideas in this lecture represent the combined thinking of the staff of The Project for the Study of Schizophrenic Communication. The staff consisted of Gregory Bateson, Jay Haley, John H. Weakland, Don D. Jackson, M.D., and William F. Fry, M.D
The article is reprinted from Chronic Schizophrenia: Explorations in Theory and Treatment, edited by L. Appleby, J. M. Scher, and J. Cumming, The Free Press, Glencoe, Illinois, 1960; reprinted by permission.
All this, however, has been better and more rigorously said by Bertalanffy, which makes it easier for me to further explore this realm of phenomena in which communication occurs. We shall settle for the conventional term "dynamics" provided it is clearly understood that we are not talking about dynamics in the physical sense.
Robert Louis Stevenson87 in "The Poor Thing" has achieved perhaps the most vivid characterization of this magical realm:
"In my thought one thing is as good as another in this world; and a shoe of a horse will do." The word "yes" or a whole performance of Hamlet, or an injection of epinephrine in the right place on the surface of the brain may be interchangeable objects. Any one of them may, ac-cording to the conventions of communication established at that moment, be an affirmative (or a negative) answer to any question. In the famous message, "One if by land; two if by sea," the objects actually used were lamps, but from the point of view of communications theory, they could have been anything from aardvarks to zygomatic arches.
It might well be sufficiently confusing to be told that, according to the conventions of communication in use at the moment, anything can stand for anything else. But this realm of magic is not that simple. Not only can the shoe of a horse stand for anything else according to the conventions of communication, it can also and simultaneously be a signal which will alter the conventions of communication. My fingers crossed behind my back may alter the whole tone and implication of everything. I recall a schizophrenic patient who, like many other schizophrenics, had difficulty with the first person pronoun; in particular, he did not like to sign his name. He had a number of aliases, alternative named aspects of self. The ward organization, of which he was a part, required that he sign his name to obtain a pass, and for one or two weekends he did not receive a pass because he insisted on signing one of his aliases. One day he remarked that he was going out the next weekend. I said, "Oh, did you sign?" He said, "Yes," with an odd grin. His real name, we will say, was Edward W. Jones. What he had actually signed was "W. Edward Jones." The ward officials did not notice the difference. It appeared to them that they had won a battle and had succeeded in forcing him to act sanely. But to himself the message was, "He (the real me) did not sign." He had won the battle. It was as if his fingers were crossed behind his back.
All communication has this characteristic—it can be magically modified by accompanying communication. In this conference, we have been discussing various ways of interacting with patients, describing what we do and what our strategy seems to us to be. It would have been more difficult to discuss our actions from the patients' point of view. How do we qualify our communications to the patients, so that the experience which they receive will be therapeutic?
Appleby, for example, described a set of procedures on his ward, and if I were a schizophrenic listening to him, I would have been tempted to say, "It all sounds like occupational therapy to me." He tells us very convincingly and with figures that his program is successful, and in documenting his success he is no doubt telling the truth. If this is so, then his description of the program must necessarily be incomplete. The experiences which the program provides for the patients must be something a
87 R. L. Stevenson, "The Poor Thing," Novels and Tales of Robert Louis Stevenson, Vol. 20, New York, Scribners, 1918, pp. 496-502.
little more alive than the dry bones of the program which he has described. The whole series of therapeutic procedures must have been qualified, possibly with enthusiasm or with humor, with some set of signals which altered the mathematical sign—plus or minus — of what was being done. Appleby has told us only about the shoe of the horse, not about the multitude of realities which determined for what that horseshoe stood.
It is as if he had related that a given musical composition was set in the key of C major, and asked us to believe that this skeletal statement was a sufficient description to enable us to understand why this particular composition altered the mood of the listener in a particular way. What is omitted in all such descriptions is the enormous complexity of modulation of communication. It is this modulation which is music.
Let me shift from a musical to a wide biological analogy in order to examine further this magical realm of communication. All organisms are partially determined by genetics, i.e., by complex constellations of messages carried principally in the chromosomes. We are products of a communicational process, modified and qualified in various ways by environmental impact. It follows, therefore, that the differences between related organisms, say, a crab and a lobster, or between a tall pea and a short pea, must always be the sort of differences that can be created by changes and modulations in a constellation of messages. Sometimes these changes in the message system will be relatively concrete — a shift from "yes" to "no" in the answer to some question governing a relatively superficial detail of the anatomy. The total picture of the animal may be altered by as little as one spot in the whole halftone block, or the change may be one which modifies or modulates the whole system of genetic messages, so that every message in the system takes on a different look while retaining its former relation-ship to all neighboring messages. It is, I believe, this stability of the relationship between messages under the impact of the change in one part of the constellation that provides a basis for the French aphorism "Plus get change, plus c'est la même chose." It is a recognized fact that the skulls of the various anthropoids can be drawn upon diversely skewed coordinates 'to demonstrate the fundamental similarity of relations and the systematic nature of the transformation from one species to another.88
My father was a geneticist, and he used to say, "It's all vibrations,"89 and to illustrate this he would point out that the striping of the common zebra is an octave higher than that of Grevy's zebra. While it is true that in this particular case the "frequency" is doubled, I don't think that it is entirely a matter of vibrations as he endeavored to ex-plain it. Rather, he was trying to say that it is all a matter of the sort of modifications which could be expected among systems whose determinants are not a matter of physics in the crude sense, but a matter of messages and modulated systems of messages.
It is worth noting, too, that perhaps organic forms are beautiful to us and the systematic biologist can find aesthetic satisfaction in the differences between related organisms simply because the differences are due to modulations of communication, while we ourselves are both organisms who communicate and whose forms are
88 D . W. Thompson, On Growth and Form, Vol. 2, Ox-ford, Oxford University Press, 1952.
89 Beatrice C. Bateson, William Bateson, Naturalist, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, determined by constellations of genetic messages. This is not the place, however, for such a revision of aesthetic theory. An expert in the theory of mathematical groups could make a major contribution in this field.
All messages and parts of messages are like phrases or segments of equations which a mathematician puts in brackets. Outside the brackets there may always be a qualifier or multiplier which will alter the whole tenor of the phrase. More-over, these qualifiers can always be added, even years later.
They do not have to precede the phrase inside the brackets. Otherwise, there could be no psychotherapy. The patient would be entitled and even compelled to argue, "My mother slapped me down in such and such ways, and, therefore, I am now sick; and because those traumata occured in the past they cannot be altered, and I, therefore, cannot get well." In the realm of communication, the events of the past constitute a chain of old horseshoes so that the meaning of that chain can be changed and is continually being changed. What exists today are only messages about the past which we call memories, and these messages can al-ways be framed and modulated from moment to moment.
Up to this point the realm of communication appears to be more and more complex, more flexible, and less amenable to analysis. Now the introduction of the group concept—the consideration of many persons—suddenly simplifies this confused realm of slipping and sliding meanings. If we shake up a number of irregular stones in a bag, or subject them to an almost random beating by the waves on the seashore, even at the crudely physical level, there will be a gradual simplification of the system—the stones will resemble each other. In the end, they will all become spherical, but in practice we usually encounter them as partly rounded pebbles. Certain forms of homogenization result from multiple impact even at the crude physical level, and when the impacting entities are organisms capable of complex learning and communication, the total system operates rapidly to-ward either uniformity or toward systematic differentiation—an increase of simplicity— which we call organization. If there are differences between the impacting entities, these differences will undergo change, either in the direction of reducing the difference, or in the direction of achieving a mutual fitting or complementarity. Among groups of people, whether the direction of change is toward homogeneity or toward complementarity, the achievement is a sharing of premises regarding the meaning and appropriateness of messages and other acts in the context of the relationship.
I shall not go into the complex problems of learning involved in this process but shall proceed to the problem of schizophrenia. An individual, i.e., the identified patient, exists within a family setting, but when we view him singularly, certain pecularities of his communicational habits are noted.
These peculiarities may be partly determined by genetics or physiological accident, but it is still reasonable to question the function of these peculiarities within the communicational system of which they are a part the family. A number of living creatures have been, in a sense, shaken up together and one of them has come out apparently different from the rest; we have to ask not only about differences in the material of which this particular individual may be made, but also how his particular characteristics were developed in this family system. Can the peculiarities of the identified patient be seen as appropriate, i.e., as either homogeneous with, or complementary to, the characteristics of the other members of the group? We do not doubt that a large part of schizophrenic. symptomatology is, in some sense, learned or determined by experience, but an organism can learn only that which it is taught by the circumstances of living and the experiences of exchanging messages with those around him. He cannot learn at random, but only to be like or unlike those around him. We have, therefore, the necessary task of looking at the experiential setting of schizophrenia.
We shall outline briefly what we have been calling the double bind hypothesis, which has been more fully described elsewhere.90 This hypothesis contains two parts; a formal description of the communicational habits of the schizophrenic, and a formal description of the sequences of experience which would understandably train the individual in his peculiar distortions of communication. Empirically we find that one description of the symptoms is, on the whole, satisfactory, and that the families of schizophrenics are characterized by the behavioral sequences which are predicted by the hypothesis.
Typically, the schizophrenic will eliminate from his messages everything that refers explicitly or implicitly to the relationship between himself and the person he is addressing. Schizophrenics commonly avoid the first and second person pronouns. They avoid telling you what sort of a message they are transmitting—whether it be literal or metaphoric, ironic or direct and they are likely to have difficulty with all messages and meaningful acts which imply intimate contact between the self and some other. To receive food may be almost impossible, but so also may be the repudiation of food.
When leaving for the A.P.A. meetings in Honolulu, I told my patient that I would be away and where I was going. He looked out the window and said, "That plane flies awfully slowly." He could not say, "I shall miss you," because he would thus be identifying himself in a relationship to me, or me in relationship to himself. To say, "I shall miss you" would be to assert a basic premise about our mutual relationship by defining the sorts of messages which should be characteristic of that relationship.
Observably, the schizophrenic avoids or distorts anything which might seem to identify either himself or the person whom he is addressing. He may eliminate anything which implies that his message refers to, and is a part of, a relationship between two identifiable people, with certain styles and premises governing their behavior in that relationship. He may avoid anything which might enable the other to interpret what he says. He may obscure the fact that he is speaking in metaphor or in some special code, and he is likely to distort or omit all reference to time and place. If we use a Western Union telegram form as an analogy, we might say that he omits
90 G. Bateson, D. D. Jackson, J. Haley, and J. H. Weak-land, "Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia," Behavioral Science, 1956, 1: 251-64; also G. Bateson, "Language and Psychotherapy, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann's Last Project," Psychiatry, 1958, 21: 96-100; also G. Bateson (moderator), "Schizophrenic Distortions of Communication," Psychotherapy of Chronic Schizophrenic Patients, C. A. Whitacker, ed., Boston and Toronto, Little, Brown and Co., 1958, pp. 3156; also G. Bateson, "Analysis of Group Therapy in an Admission Ward, United States Naval Hospital, Oakland, California," Social Psychiatry in Action, H. A. Wilmer, Springfield, 1ll., Charles C. Thomas, 1958, pp. 334-49; also J. Haley, "The Art of Psychoanalysis," etc., 1958, . 15: 190-200; also J. Haley, "An Interactional Explanation of Hypnosis," American Journal of Ciinicai Hypnosis, 1958, 1: 41-57; also J. H. Weakland and D. D. Jackson, "Patient and Therapist Observations on the Circumstances of a Schizophrenic Episode," AMA Archives of Neurological Psychiatry, 1958, 79: 55474.
what would be put on the procedural parts of the telegraph form and will modify the text of his message to distort or omit any indication of these metacommunicative elements in the total normal message. What remains is likely to be a metaphoric statement unlabelled as to context. Or, in extreme cases, there may be nothing left but a stolid acting out of the message, "There is no relationship between us."
This much is observable and may be summarized by saying that the schizophrenic communicates as if he expected to be punished every time he indicates that he is right in his view of the context of his own message.
The "double bind," which is central to the etiological half of our hypothesis, may now simply be summarized by saying that it is an experience of being punished precisely for being right in one's own view of the context. Our hypothesis assumes that repeated experience of punishment in sequences of this kind will lead the individual to behave habitually as if he expected such punishment.
The mother of one of our patients poured out blame upon her husband for refusing for fifteen years to hand over control of the family finances to her. The father of the patient said, "I admit that it was a great mistake of me not to let you handle it, I admit that. I have corrected that. My reasons for thinking it was a mistake are entirely different from yours, but I admit that it was a very serious error on my part."
Mother. Now, you're just being facetious.
Father: No, I am not being facetious.
Mother. Well, anyway I don't care because when you come right down to it the debts were incurred, still there is no reason why a person would not be told of them. I think the woman should be told.
Father: It may be the same reason why when Joe (their psychotic son) comes home from school and he has had trouble he doesn't tell you.
Mother: Well, that's a good dodge.
The pattern of such a sequence is simply the successive disqualification of each of the father's contributions to the relationship. He is continuously being told that the messages are not valid. They are received as if they were in some way different from that which he thought he intended.
We may say that he is penalized either for being right about his views of his own intentions, or he is penalized whenever his reply is appropriate to what she said.
But, per contra, from her viewpoint, it seems that he is endlessly misinterpreting her, and this is one of the most peculiar characteristics of the dynamic system which surrounds — or is — schizophrenia. Every therapist who has dealt with schizophrenics will recognize the recurrent trap. The patient endeavors to put the therapist in the wrong by his interpretation of what the therapist said, and the patient does this because he expects the therapist to misinterpret what he (the patient) said. The bind becomes mutual. A stage is reached in the relationship in which neither person can afford to receive or emit metacommunicative messages without distortion.
There is, however, usually, an asymmetry in such relationships. This mutual doublebinding is a type of struggle and commonly one or the other has the upper hand. We have deliberately chosen to work with families where one of the offspring is the identified patient, and, partly for this reason, in our data, it is the supposedly normal parents who have the upper hand over an identifiably psychotic younger member of the group. In such cases, the asymmetry takes the curious form that the identified patient sacrifices himself to maintain the sacred illusion that what the parent says makes sense. To be close to that parent, he must sacrifice his right to indicate that he sees any metacommunicative incongruencies, even when his perception of these incongruencies is correct. There is, therefore, a curious disparity in the distribution of awareness of what is happening. The patient may know but must not tell, and thereby enables the parent to not know what he or she is doing. The patient is an accomplice in the parent's unconscious hypocrisy. The result may be very great unhappiness and very gross, but al-ways systematic, distortions of communication.
Moreover, these distortions are always precisely those which would seem appropriate when the victims are faced with a trap to avoid which would be to destroy the very nature of the self. This paradigm is neatly illustrated by a pas-sage which is worth quoting in full from Festing Jones' life of Samuel Butler.91
Butler went to dinner at Mr. Seebohm's where he met Skertchley, who told them about a rat-trap invented by Mr. Tylor's coachman.
Mr. Dunkett found all his traps fail one after another, and was in such despair at the way the corn got eaten that he resolved to invent a rat-trap. He began by putting himself as nearly as possible in the rat's place.
"Is there anything," he asked himself, "in which, if I were a rat, I should have such complete confidence that I could not suspect it without suspecting everything in the world and being unable henceforth to move fearlessly in any direction?"
He pondered for a while and had no answer, till one night the room seemed to become full of light and he hears a voice from heaven saying:
Then he saw his way. To suspect a common drain-pipe would be to cease to be a rat. Here Skertchley enlarged a little, explaining that a spring was to be concealed inside, but that the pipe was to be open at both ends; if the pipe were closed at one end, a rat would naturally not like going into it, for he would not feel sure of being able to get out again; on which I [Butler] interrupted and said:
"Ah, it was just this which stopped me from going in-to the Church."
When he [Butler] told me this I [Jones] knew what was in his mind, and that, if he had not been in such respectable company, he would have said: "It was just this which stopped me from getting married."
Notice that Dunkett could only invent this double bind for rats by way of an hallucinatory experience, and that both Butler and Jones immediately regarded the trap as a paradigm for human relations. Indeed, this sort of dilemma is not rare and is not confined to the contexts of schizophrenia.
The question which we must face, therefore, is why these sequences are either specially frequent or specially destructive in those families which contain schizophrenics. I do not have the statistics to assert this; however, from limited but intense observation of a few of these families, I can offer an hypothesis about the group dynamics which would determine a system of interaction, such that double bind experiences must recur ad nauseam. The problem is to construct a model which will necessarily cycle to recreate these patterned sequences over and over again.
91 H. F. Jones, Samuel Butler: A Memoir, Vol. 1, London, Macmillan, 1919.
Such a model is provided in Von Neumann's and Morgenstern's92 theory of games, presented here not, indeed, with its full mathematical rigor, but at least in terms some-what technical.
Von Neumann was concerned with mathematical study of the formal conditions under which entities, with total intelligence and a preference for gain, would form coalitions among themselves in order to maximize the profits which coalition members might receive at the expense of the non-members. He imagined these entities as engaged in some-thing like a game and proceeded to ask about the formal characteristics of the rules which would compel the totally intelligent but gain-oriented players to form coalitions. A very curious conclusion emerged, and it is this conclusion which I would propose as a model.
Evidently, coalition between players can only emerge when there are at least three of them. Any two may then get together to exploit the third, and if such a game be symmetrically devised, it evidently has three solutions which we may represent as AB vs. C BC vs. A AC vs. B
For this three-person system, Von Neumann demonstrates that once formed, any one of these coalitions will be stable. If A and B are in alliance, there is nothing C can do about it. And, interestingly enough, A and B will necessarily develop conventions (supplementary to the rules) which will, for example, forbid them from listening to C's approaches.
In the five-person game, the position becomes quite different; there will be a variety of possibilities. It may be that four players contemplate a combination against one, illustrated in the following five patterns:
A vs. BCDE B vs. ACDE C vs. ABDE D vs. ABCE E vs. ABCD
But none of these would be stable. The four players within the coalition must, necessarily, engage in a subgame in which they maneuver against each other to achieve an unequal division of the gains which the coalition could squeeze out of the fifth player. This must lead to a coalition pattern which we may describe as 2 vs. 2 vs. 1, i.e., BC vs. DE vs. A. In such a situation, it would become possible for A to approach and join one of these pairs, so that the coalition system will become 3 vs. 2.
But in the system 3 vs. 2, it would be advantageous for the three to recruit over to their side one of the two, in order to make their gains more certain. Now we are back to a 4 vs. 1 system—not necessarily the particular line-up that we started from but at any rate a system having the same general properties. It, in turn, must break down into 2 vs. 2 vs. 1, and so on.
In other words, for every possible pattern of coalitions, there is at least one other pattern which will "dominate" it—to use Von Neumann's term—and the relationship of domination between solutions is intransitive. There will al-ways be a circular list of alternative solutions so that the system will never cease from passing on from
92 J. Von Neumann and O. Morgenstern, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1944.
solution to solution, always selecting another solution which is preferable to that which preceded it. This means, in fact, that the robots (owing to their total intelligence) will be unable to decide upon a single "play" of the game.
I offer this model as being reminiscent of what happens in schizophrenic families. No two members seem able to get together in a coalition stable enough to be decisive at the given moment. Some other member or members of the family will always intervene. Or, lacking such intervention, the two members who contemplate a coalition will feel guilty vis-a-vis what the third might do or say, and will draw back from the coalition.
Notice that it takes five hypothetical entities with total intelligence to achieve this particular sort of instability or oscillation in a Von Neumannian game. But three human beings seem to be enough. Perhaps they are not totally intelligent or perhaps they are systematically inconsistent regarding the sort of "gain" in terms of which they are motivated.
I want to stress that in such a system, the experience of each separate individual will be of this kind: every move which he makes is the common-sense move in the situation as he correctly sees it at that moment, but his every move is subsequently demonstrated to have been wrong by the moves which other members of the system make in response to his "right" move. The individual is thus caught in a perpetual sequence of what we have called double bind experiences.
I do not know how valid this model may be, but I offer it for two reasons. First, it is proposed as a sample of trying to talk about the larger system—the family — instead of talking, as we habitually do, about the individual. If we are to understand the dynamics of schizophrenia, we must devise a language adequate to the phenomena which are emergent in this larger system. Even if my model is inappropriate, it is still worthwhile to try to talk in the sort of language which we shall need for describing these emergent phenomena. Secondly, conceptual models, even when incorrect, are useful to the extent that criticism of the model may point to new theoretical developments.
Let me, therefore, point out one criticism of this model, and consider to what ideas it will lead. There is no theorem in Von Neumann's book which would indicate that his entities or robots, engaged in this infinite dance of changing coalitions, would ever become schizophrenic. According to the abstract theory, the entities simply remain totally intelligent ad infinitum.
Now, the major difference between people and von Neumann's robots lies in the fact of learning. To be infinitely intelligent implies to be infinitely flexible, and the players in the dance which I have described could never experience the pain which human beings would feel if continuallyproven wrong whenever they had been wise. Human beings have a commitment to the solutions which they discover, and it is this psychological commitment that makes it possible for them to be hurt in the way members of a schizophrenic family are hurt.
It appears then, from consideration of the model, that the double bind hypothesis, to be explanatory of schizophrenia, must depend upon certain psychological assumptions about the nature of the human individual as a learning organism. For the individual to be prone to schizophrenia, individuation must comprise two contrasting psychological mechanisms. The first is a mechanism of adaptation to demands of the personal environment; and the second, a process or mechanism whereby the individual becomes either briefly or enduringly committed to the adaptations which the first process has discovered.
I think that what l am calling a brief commitment to an adaptation is what Bertalanffy called the immanent state of action; and that the more enduring commitment to adaptation is simply what we usually call "habit."
What is a person? What do I mean when I say "I?" Perhaps what each of us means by the "self" is in fact an aggregate of habits of perception and adaptive action plus, from moment to moment, our "immanent states of action." If somebody attacks the habits and immanent states which characterize me at the given moment of dealing with that somebody—that is, if they attack the very habits and immanent states which have been called into being as part of my relationship to them at that moment—they are negating me. If I care deeply about that other person, the negation of me will be still more painful.
What we have said so far is enough to indicate the sorts of strategy—or perhaps we should say symptoms—which are to be expected in that strange institution, the schizophrenic family. But it is still surprising to observe how these strategies may be continually and habitually practiced without friends and neighbors noticing that something is wrong. From theory we may predict that every participant member of such an institution must be defensive of his or her own immanent states of action and enduring adaptive habits; protective, that is, of the self.
To illustrate with one example: a colleague had been working for some weeks with one of these families, particularly with the father, the mother, and their adult schizophrenic son. His meetings were on the conjoint pattern—the members of the family being present together. This apparently provoked some anxiety in the mother and she requested face-to-face interviews with me. This move was discussed at the next conjoint meeting and in due course she came to her first session. Upon arrival she made a couple of conversational remarks, and then opened her purse and from it handed me a piece of paper, saying, "It seems my husband wrote this." I unfolded the paper and found it to be a single sheet of single-spaced typescript, starting with the words, "My husband and I much appreciate the opportunity of discussing our problems with you," etc. The document then went on to outline certain specific questions which "I would like to raise.
It appeared that the husband had, in fact, sat down at his typewriter the night before and had written this letter to me as though it were written by his wife, and in it he outlined the questions for her to discuss with me.
In normal daily life this sort of thing is common enough; it passes muster. When attention is focused upon the characteristic strategies, however, these self-protecting and self-destroying maneuvers become conspicuous. One suddenly discovers that in such families these strategies seem to pre-dominate over all others. It becomes hardly surprising that the identified patient exhibits behavior which is almost a caricature of that loss of identity which is characteristic of all the family members.
I believe that this is the essence of the matter, that the schizophrenic family is an organization with great ongoing stability whose dynamics and inner workings are such that each member is continually undergoing the experience of negation of self.
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