Using this apt phrase, psychologist Paul Dell has recently called attention to a profound difference between the transactional model of research on families of schizophrenics and the etiological one. Studies that try to establish an etiology different from the traditional individually oriented one have assumed a causal link between family structure and psychotic behavior. But to say that a particular condition is contingent on a given type of family organization, or to think that there is a direct connection, is to make the mistake of linear thinking.
The transactional view, according to Dell, is not concerned with etiology but amounts to a redefinition of what schizophrenia is. Transactional researchers take the position that behaviors labeled schizophrenic are part and parcel of the pattern of family relationships in which the behaviors are embedded, and that neither family nor afflicted individual can be singled out as the "location" of the disorder. As Dell says,
The behaviors of family members which together constitute the various aspects of the pattern are not linearly causal of one another but are co-