27 terms

Family Systems Theory


Terms in this set (...)

5 contributors to the theory:
Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Ernest Burgess,
Don Jackson (Psychiatrist), Gregory Bateson (Anthropologist),
John Weakland (Chemical Engineer), & Jay Haley (Communications), Willard Waller
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
biologist, system made up of independent parts that comprise an entity
Ernest Burgess (1926)
"unity of interacting personalities"
-Two basic family
types: highly integrated (rituals, discipline, interdependence) and the un-integrated
Kantor and Lehr
*wrote book called "Inside the Family"
*4 player parts in
family (mover, opposer, follower, bystander),
family (dependent, enabler hero, delinquent, invisible child, clown)
*also open and closed boundaries
Don Jackson (Psychiatrist), Gregory Bateson (Anthropologist),
John Weakland (Chemical Engineer), & Jay Haley (Communications)
~looked at families as systems (1950s)
~ schizophrenia- examined communication patterns (double binds)
Willard Waller "The Family" (1938)
family as interacting personalities; The family is the greatest source of influence on a child
-Family experiences are repetitive and based on patterns of
assumptions (9)
1. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts
2. the locus of pathology (location of problem) is not within the person but is a system dysfunction
3. circular causality guides behavior
4. rules result from the redundancy principle and are critical in defining a family
5. feedback loops guide behavior; self-reflexive and self-regulating
6. pathological communication contributes to relationship problems
7. all family members take on roles
8. family types are based on the rigidity of family boundaries
9. Family must be understood in context; goal-seeking system; defined by their communication
A set of objects and their attributes that relate to each other in a way that creates a new "super entity"
border that exists between system & environment that affects the flow of information & energy between environment & system; delineate elements belonging to system and those belonging to environment
open boundaries
high energy, low entropy
random boundaries
high energy, high entropy
closed boundaries
low energy, high entropy
all systems move toward disorder/disorganization, caused by lack of energy
keeps systems from coming totally disorganized; capacity for power or action to affect change
circular loop that brings some of the system's output back as input; two types:
negative - deviation dampening (homeostasis)
positive - deviation amplifying (morphostasis)
equilibrium (homeostasis)
The challenge for a family system to seek a balance between stability and change in its behavior and rules.
circular vs linear causality
*Circular Causality - continuous series of circular feedback loops in
which everyone influences everyone else in the family without clear
beginning or ending points.
* Linear Causality - one event causes the next
identified patient
The person in the family that is believed to be the problem or manifest more symptoms than the others.
double bind
A person is given two commands that contradict each other, and if you obey one request, then you are in trouble for disobeying the other
ability of marital/family system to change power structure, role relationships & relationship rules in response to situational & developmental stress
High flexibility -capable of making change; chaotic due to constant changes and no pattern exists
Low flexibility -highly controlling; rules do not change;
strictly defined roles
Found in open families in which everyone is accepted and loved even when they have differing opinions.
disorganization - 5 situations that can lead to dsyfunction
1. goals of one or more members are in opposition to goals of system
2. elements of organization (e.g., communication, roles, etc.) are disrupted/unclear
3. available energy is not sufficient for demands in system
4. family is not adequately organized to obtain energy from outside
5. pressures from outside exercise a disorganizing influence on the family
the need of healthy families to change in response
to changes within or in response to external stressors
the tendency of family members to cooperate to restore equilibrium which reduces tension in the family;
maintained through feedback
different families react similarly to the same experience or achieve similar outcomes by very different