Foundations of Family Therapy: A Conceptual Framework for Systems Change

By Lynn Hoffman | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
Typologies of Family Structure

Symptom Typologies

Out of the fascination with schizophrenic communication and how it might be fostered by family communication, a new branch of family research arose. This approach focused on microstudy of interactions, verbal or nonverbal, in an attempt to link communication style with the dominant type of symptom found in a family: in other words, to suggest a typology of families by symptom.

Early work in this direction came about in a rather circuitous way. We have already seen the uses of accident in the Bateson group's research. Now serendipity enters again. At Yale in the early 1950s, Theodore Lidz and his coworkers were attempting to map out the interior workings of the family of the schizophrenic. Since they had a psychoanalytic orientation, it did not occur to them to see the family as a whole. Their original plan was to obtain Rorschach protocols from each family member and to construct a portrait of the family from a composite of these materials. The team did once try to see a family with the patient, but this proved unworkable, and the experiment was not, at that time, repeated. Lidz subsequently became discouraged about the value of his Rorschach protocols and the project was temporarily discontinued.

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