The Interactional View
The cybernetic study of systems
Looks at the family as a system
Paul Watzlawick= theorist
He wrote "the pragmatics of human communication"
Family setup that Watzlawick saw
Controlling parent, enabling controlling parent, the problem child, and the golden child.
In this family system, everyone complained but they kept playing those roles. They had learned these roles and felt safe there.
If you asked the family, they would say it was the problem child's fault but really its the whole family contributing
The worse the problem child gets, the better the golden child gets
The three other roles want to keep the problem child the problem child.
The controlling parent never gives love, the enabling parent throws a party every time the problem child does something good, therefore the problem child will always resort back to bad ways in order to do good then get a reward.
The golden child is just always better than the problem child
Our realities become fixed and we cant find our way out of the system.
If you want to fix the system, someone from outside the system has to come in and breakdown the system to reframe it.
The Family System
Uses a biological metaphor
The family is like any biological system
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
If one part of the system falls down, then the whole system will be affected
Systems strive towards balance, or homeostasis.
They strive for the norm
Family systems are more than the sum of their parts
We each have a function in the family system, we are taught the rules, and then we play our part
Ex: when the only child goes to college, the family has to reconstitute itself to accommodate for the absence of that child
One can not not communicate
EX: you get in a fight with someone and you do not want to talk to them. You are still using communication by not calling them or actively ignoring them.
Communication = content+ relationship
Communication is made up of more than just what we say.
Content is what we say and relationship is how we say it.
We read communication for the text as well as the cues to read the content We can even read silence
The interpretation of communication is dependent on how we punctuate events.
Punctuation provides timing, rhythm, context, enthusiasm.
Punctuation is what teaches us where things start in an interaction.
EX: the nag withdrawal cycle.
I nag you because you withdraw from me. You withdraw from me because I nag you.
Relationship are either symmetrical (even) or complimentary (uneven). You either share power or there is a power struggle.
A person trapped under mutually exclusive expectations
Specifically the powerful party in a complementary relationship insists that the low-power party act as if it were symmetrical
Catch 22- a no win situation
A person cant win if you tell them to be spontaneous.
If you tell them to do this than you will say well you are only doing it because I told you to do so.
Puts the receiver in a no win situation
EX: clean your room...well its not clean enough
The sender does not see this as a problem