Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trapped in a system with no place to go (Part II)

Changing the game by changing the rules 

                                                            Picture taken from here

1) Relationships within a family system are inter-connected and highly resistant to change.
2) Communication among members has a content component, and a relationship component that centers on issues of control.

Family systems are highly resistant to change. Each family member occupies a ROLE that serves the status quo.

A family as a system
1) Picture a family as an object or mobile suspended from the ceiling.

                                                                   Picture taken from here

2) Each part/figure is connected to the rest of the structure by a strong thread tied at exactly the right place to keep the system in a balance.
3) Pull on any string, and the force sends a shake throughout the whole network.
4) Cut a thread, and the entire system tilts in disequilibrium (an unbalance situation).
5) The "threads" in this example represent "communication rules" that hold the family together.
6) A systems approach to family relationships defies simplistic explanations of why people act as they do.
7) Relationships are complex functions in the same sense that mathematical functions link multiple variables.

Axioms of interpersonal communication
1) The nature of relationship depends on how both parties punctuate the communication sequence.
2) While definitions of relationship include the issues of belongings, affections, trust and intimacy, The Interactional View pays particular attention to questions of control, status and power.

All communication is either symmetrical or complementary
1) Symmetrical interchange is based on equal power.
2) Complementary communication is based on differences in power

Healthy relationships have both kinds of communication.

Effective change for the whole Franklin family will come about only when members are helped to step outside the system and see the self-defeating nature of the rules under which they are playing. This process is called – reframing.

To reframe is to change the conceptual and/or emotional setting or view point in relation to which a situation is experienced and to place it in another frame which fits the “facts” of the same concrete situation equally well or even better, and thereby changes its entire meaning.

The Interactional View by Paul Watzlawick looks at dysfunctional patterns within families in order to gain insight into what is healthy communication.

This blog post is written based on my understanding of Watzlawick’s theory, extracted from the book - A First Look at Communication Theory by Em Griffin.

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