Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Book Reviews -- out of Control: Family Therapy and Domestic Disorder by Jaber F. Gubrium

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Book Reviews -- out of Control: Family Therapy and Domestic Disorder by Jaber F. Gubrium

Article excerpt

GUBRIUM, Jaber F., OUT OF CONTROL: Family therapy and Domestic disorder. Newbury Park, CA.: Sage Publications, Inc, 1992, 257 pp., $ 46.00 hardcover, $ 22.95 softcover.

"Out of Control: Family Therapy and Domestic Disorder," by Jabber F. Gubrium is an engrossing study of two institutions treating troubled families. It is interesting and useful to a variety of people in the behavioral sciences. Gubrium's interest is, in successively more abstract layers, the family, the disorder in some families, the language and theory that shapes the experience of family disordered or not, and the question of how all experience is given voice in every day life. This last question is the one that we discover for ourselves through the pages of this book. Do families bring the experience of disorder to the institution and the agents of society, or does society impose disorder on the families through the use of a language and theory that create the experience of disorder?

Mental health professionals will find this book both enlightening and unsettling. Unsettling, because it is difficult not to identify with the mental health professionals who are seen through the eyes of an objective recorder. Well-meaning professionals are heard in their unguarded conversations with each other. It is comforting to see that the clients being treated do not seem to suffer any ill effects as a result of the attitudes of the mental health people.

This book would also be useful to teachers of any of the behavioral sciences and their students. One could use this book in many ways. One way is the illustration of the use of theory in framing behavior. Another is as a very good example of the naturalistic research method and its impact on the reader. It would be of interest to teachers of other disciplines as well.

The author and his assistant observe two institutions and compare their approaches to helping families who find themselves unable to cope or unable to find a context for the conflicts within their families. In the past this conceptualization may have been guided by religious interpretations and directives, but now in the absence of generally accepted theological guidance or perhaps from the pressure of society's professionalization of social sanctions, the troubled family is more apt to turn to the social service professional for interpretation of their problems. …

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