Foundations of Family Therapy: A Conceptual Framework for Systems Change

By Lynn Hoffman | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
The Dynamics of Social Fields

Bateson and the Grand Design

One of Bateson's central concerns was what he called "the pattern that connects." He believed that at some level of structure there is a congruence among the laws governing different types of events. Speaking of his father, a noted British geneticist, he said,

In this early -- and as I think he knew -- his best work, he posed problems of animal symmetry, segmentation, serial repetition of parts, patterns, etc. . . . I picked up a vague mystical feeling that we must look for the same sort of processes in all fields of natural phenomena -- that we might expect to find the same sort of laws at work in the structure of a crystal as in the structure of society, or that the segmentation of an earthworm might be comparable to the process by which basalt pillars are formed. 1

One of the elder Bateson's areas of study was the way parts of organisms differentiate. Some do so serially, down a hierarchical ladder, like the legs of a lobster; this is metameric differentiation. Others differentiate symmetrically, with each part exactly like the other, like the radial tentacles of a jellyfish.

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