Affect and Attachment in the Family: A Family-Based Treatment of Major Psychiatric Disorder

By Jeri A. Doane; Diana Diamond | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Introduction:
Attachment and Family Emotional
Climate— An Epigenetic Approach
to Studying the Family

The Limitations of the Family Systems Model

THE PERSISTENT POWER of the parent-child attachment or affectional bond has been largely ignored by investigators who study family's role in the course of major psychiatric disorders. Although the reasons for this oversight are not entirely clear, several trends have been evident in the field of family therapy and research during the last 30 years that may have contributed to this tendency to bypass the role of parent-child attachment in family dynamics. Family therapists during this period tended to emphasize, if not idealize, a systemic, whole family approach to understanding what goes on in families, and family therapy literature has influenced many researchers. Many family therapists still focus on the complexity of the constantly moving, interconnecting family system as the most useful way of understanding a family's dynamics in the consulting room. The term identified patient suggests this philosophy in that the patient is often seen as reflecting the pathology of the entire family system and thus as mirroring the problems in the system as a whole. Family therapy programs still train therapists to work primarily with the whole family in conjoint sessions. Typically, the siblings are included as a vital part of the family work, and therapists do not generally split up parents and work with dyadic pairs of one parent and the identified patient-child.

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