Family Therapy as an Alternative to Medication: An Appraisal of Pharmland

By Phoebe S. Prosky; David V. Keith | Go to book overview

Foreword to Chapter 3

In the first two essays we have set forth our theme and our concerns. Now we would like you to join us for a helicopter ride over the whole territory in which our theme plays itself out so that we can view its extent. The Auerswald essay that follows will be our vehicle. Please climb aboard.

“Dick” Auerswald was a friend and inspiration to both of us. He died, too soon, in 1998, his work too little recognized. His death came swiftly. It left a large hole in the fabric of systemic thinking in family therapy. In the years before his death, he developed and self-published a wonderful collection of his papers, which he left us as a patch for the fabric of our field. Entitled Ecovision, Volume I, Essays: 1964-1993, it preserves for us the legacy of his wonderful invigorating thinking. The essay that follows is from this collection. It does not talk about the issue of pharmacology specifically, but it pays attention to the epistermology that underlies what we are talking about in this collection. The premises on which family therapy is based are different from the premises that underlie psychiatric thinking. This is an epistemological problem, a problem based on different ways of thinking about human experience. This Auerswald essay is one of the best sources for clearly understanding this fundamental difference in thinking patterns.

The essay is well written, but mental energy is required to integrate what it says. You may want to read it several times. In the first part, Auerswald talks about epistemology and paradigms and models. It lays the groundwork for the second part, in which he develops the mechological paradigm and the ecosystemic holodigm. The mechologic paradigm works well for designing and building machines but when applied to human experience is value-neutral and leads to events like the holocaust, which are constructed on logic. The ecosystemic holodigm is the kind of thinking that energized the early family therapy movement and is better suited to thinking about human relatedness. The third part of the paper delineates an operational paradigm, which Auerswald describes as “modes of thought.”

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