“All right, ” said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. “Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin, ” thought Alice; “but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
This book explores the interface between two different ways of thinking about the world of mental health: family systems-based therapy and modern “biological” psychiatry. Biological psychiatry, with its armamentarium of medications, has largely eclipsed the family systems or ecosystemic model of psychotherapy, which has as its focus context and relationships. Routinely patients are being placed on medication in response to emotional or mental symptoms, not only by psychiatrists, but also by physicians in all specialties, often on the recommendation of nonmedical therapists and teachers. This rush to medicate, with its side effects of dependency and the redefinition of experience as disease, has begun to draw the skepticism of practitioners and a public that senses its possible costs as well as the importance of arriving at self-mastery in life. The powerful potential of the ecosystemic approach of family systems therapy, so much in tune with larger ecological concerns today, responds to this situation. In the 50 years since the ecosystemic approach began to be articulated, its usefulness has become overwhelmingly evident, yet its potential has barely begun to be mined. We are developing this book in an attempt to awaken broader awareness of the vision of systems-oriented psychotherapy in hopes of keeping it from being disappeared by the strong forces of the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry.