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Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 541
Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Last seen: 11 years, 4 months
This explains a lot!
    #4401817 - 07/14/05 12:36 AM (12 years, 10 months ago)

This really does explain a lot, about how our brains work, how we think about things, and how we communicate. After reading it, I look at mental disorder in a new light.

The Double Bind - The Intimate Tie Between Behavior and Communication

I'm looking back at my own life and childhood to see where I've been caught up in 'double binds'...

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Re: This explains a lot! [Re: the_phoenix]
    #14406178 - 05/05/11 06:36 PM (7 years, 16 days ago)

can't believe nobody responded to this. this part resonates with me COMPLETELY, including my past upbringing and my difficulty communicating with people...

"It has been suggested that schizophrenics, as children, experienced a great deal of confusion in regards to defining their relationships as complementary or symmetrical. In other words, there was a great deal of mismatch between child and caretaker regarding the definition of their relationship. An example is the child who perceives the relationship as complementary and responds accordingly -- only to have the caretaker switch to a symmetrical relationship.

Is it any wonder then, that schizophrenic interactions, as described by Haley, are an attempt to avoid defining the nature of those relationships:

A person can avoid defining his relationship by negating any or all of these four elements. He can (a) deny that he communicated something, (b) deny that something was communicated, (c) deny that it was communicated to the other person, or (d) deny the context in which it was communicated. (4, 89)
People communicate at a multitude of levels. We can communicate with much more than just words. For example, our physical posture and gestures provide another level of communication as well as the pitch, tone and tempo of our speech. There are myriad possibilities for simultaneously relating to and denying relationship with another person. Schizophrenics are decidedly the masters at this craft, but examples abound in everyday life to demonstrate how this is done.

We are all familiar with mixed messages. The dog who simultaneously wags his tail and growls is one example. The man who responds to his wife's request that he help her in the kitchen by saying "Sure, I'll be happy to help you," as he settles deeper into his easy chair, is at once accepting her request for assistance and simultaneously communicating that he will not help her. The woman who says "I would love to help you but I have a headache," is defining her relationship as cooperative, while using her headache to negate the relationship.

Contrast these behaviors with that of the man who congruently says, "No, I won't help you," as he sits down in the chair. He has clearly defined his relationship as one in which he will not be told what to do. Similarly, how is a person to make sense of my communication if I say "I love you" in a flat voice while gazing in the other direction? The man says, "This subject is fascinating," while checking his watch. The woman asks her child if he wants to give her a hug as she pulls him toward her for a hug. These sorts of interactions are common in every day life. Much of our ability to make sense out of the world depends on our being able to recognize and comment upon the conflicting messages we receive.

The schizophrenic, on the other hand, is faced with the dilemma of deciphering to which part of the message he can safely respond, since commenting upon the discrepancy is not in the repertoire of behaviors available to him. I would imagine it is much like living in a battle zone where every communication is a threat to my personal safety. Faced with the task of discovering the meaning of another's communication while being prohibited from commenting on or acknowledging my own confusion seems like a terrifying proposition. Is it any wonder that schizophrenic communications are structured to avoid defining that a relationship exists?

It appears that, because of the early influence of repeatedly being caught in double binds, schizophrenics develop a defensive approach to communication which is tenacious in its ability to say something and say nothing at the same time. Their goal in life is not to be pinned down on any front. Unfortunately, they are as hopelessly trapped in their web of confusion as the people who come in contact with them."

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General Interest >> Philosophy, Sociology & Psychology

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