INTERACTIONAL VIEW

The Interactional View by Paul Watzlawick (pronounced VAHT-sla-vick)

The Franklin family is in trouble. Whose is not?

Mike has dropped all pretense of interest in studies, sports or social life. His only passion is drinking and smoking dope.

Each of the Franklins reacts to Mikeís substance abuse in different ways. But not in helpful ways.

Father denies his son has a problem.

Mother covers up the problem.

Sister is an Ďover-achieverí.

Mike is caught up in a vicious circle of substance abuse.

Psychologist Watzlawick would describe the whole family system as disturbed. He formed his theory of social interaction by looking at dysfunctional patterns within families in order to gain insight about healthy communication

THE FAMILY AS A SYSTEM

Picture the family as a mobile hanging from the ceiling.

A strong thread tied at exactly the same place keeps the system in balance.

Tug on the string and the force sends a shock throughout the whole network.

Sever a thread and the entire design tilts in disequilibrium.

The threads in the mobile analogy represent communication rules that hold a family together.

Anthropologist Gregory Bateson influenced vAHT-sla-vick

A commitment to study interpersonal communication as part of an entire system.

Do not really care about WHY a person acts in a certain way but they have a great interest in HOW individual behavior affects everyone in the group.

Relationships are complex functions in the same sense that mathematical functions link multiple variables.

VAHT-sla-vick uses the math metaphor throughout his theory and uses the term pragmatics (dictionary meaning) refers to the relationship between signs and behavior and not to the practicality of words.

VAHT-sla-vick presents five axioms that describe the tentative calculus of human communication

They make up the "RULES" of the game. The game is governed as "sequences of behavior governed by rules".

The network of communication that governs the Franklin family makes it extremely difficult for nay of them to change their behavior. The word "homeostasis or family homeostasis" is used to describe what many family counselors agree is the collusion of family members to maintain the status quo.
 

AXIOM 1: ONE CAN NOT NOT COMMUNICATE

Mike avoiding his mother when he comes home is still communication.

Communicates despite himself by his facial expression and his silence.

AXIOM 2: HUMANS COMMUNICATE BOTH DIGITALLY AND ANALOGICALLY

Analog is the needle on the watch

Digital is a number read out on a watch

Analogical communication represents things by likeness.

Digital communication refers to things by name
 

VAHT-sla-vick sees analogical communication as non-verbal. Tone of voice, facial expression and touch reliably reflect feelings

Language as digital communication. Very few words have similarity about the things or ideas they describe. I.e. cat...liberal

That is why Mike cannot hide his feelings. His overall negative mood leaks out non-verbally

According to Vaht-sla-vick, problems arise when we digitally label the non-verbal acts that anologically represent inner feelings. It is hard to translate between verbal and non-verbal messages. I.e. lying about substance abuse

AXIOM 3: COMMUNICATION = CONTENT + RELATIONSHIP

Every communication has a content aspect and a relationship aspect. The difference between the hardware component and software component of a computer.

In written communication, punctuation gives meaning to the word. The word is the content. RIGHT. RIGHT! RIGHT?

In spoken communication it is the tone of voice, emphasis on certain words facial cues, etc.

Metacommunication..meta meaning the big picture or everything.

VAHT-sla-vick sees metacommunication as "This is how I see myself. This is how I see you. This is how I see you seeing me."

Pathological or dysfunctional metacommunication is communication that shakes the entire family system. Like another binge or violent outbreak.

AXIOM 4: THE NATURE OF A RELATIONSHIP DEPENDS ON HOW BOTH PARTIES PUNCTUATE THE COMMUNICATION SEQUENCE
 
 

Cycle of violence

VAHT-sla-vick believes that what is typical about the sequence and makes it a problem of punctuation is that the

Individual concerned conceives of himself only as reacting to, but not as provoking these attitudes

AXIOM 5: ALL COMMUNICATION IS SYMMETRICAL OR COMPLEMENTARY

This axiom focuses on the analogical aspect of communication

SYMMETRICAL COMMUNICATION ARE BASED ON EQUAL POWER

COMPLEMENTARY COMMUNICATION IS BASED ON DIFFERENCES IN POWER

HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS HAVE BOTH KINDS OF COMMUNICATION

IN THE FRANKLIN FAMILY THE WOMEN HAVE A SYMMETRIC RELATIONSHIP. Each performs without the other claiming dominance

THE MOTHERíS RELATIONSHIP WITH HER SON IS COMPLEMENTARY. HER TYPE OF MOTHERING IS STRONG ON CONTROL. She hides the extent of Mikeís drinking from his father, school officials, and the law and by continuing to treat Mike as a child maintains her dominant-submissive relationship with him.

ALTHOUGH COMPLEMENTARY RELATIONSHIPS ARE NOT ALL DESTRUCTIVE, THE STATUS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN Mike AND THE REST OF THE FRANKLINS IS STRESSING THE FAMILY SYSTEM.

One up communication, one down communication one across communication

TRAPPED IN A SYSTEM WITH NO PLACE TO GO

Family systems are highly resistant to change. THIS INERTIA IS ESPECIALLY APPARENT IN THE HOME OF SOMEONE WHO HAS AN ADDICTION. Each family member has a role that serves the status quo.

Mike as the problem

Mother is the "enabler" who cushions Mike from his pain

Father is the "deny-er"

Sister is the family "hero" who compensates for her brotherís failure

FAMILY THERAPISTS NOTICE THAT WHEN ONE FAMILY GETS BETTER ANOTHER MEMBER OFTEN GETS WORSE. DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES CONFIRM THE ADAGEí the more things change, the more they stay the same."

The Franklin family is caught in a double bind of mutually exclusive expectations

The paradox of the double bind is that the high-status party in a complementary relationship insists that the low-status person act as if the relationship were symmetrical- which it isnít.

The fathers demand for his son to stay sober for his own sake places Mike in a no wine situation. He can not obey his Dad and be autonomous at the same time.

http://www.ksu.edu/ucs/dysfunc.html

CHANGING THE GAME BY CHANGING THE RULES:

How can the Franklin family break out of their never ending game and experience real change in the way they related to each other?

Have to step outside the system and the self-defeating nature of the rules under which they are playing. He calls the process of changing the punctuation as "reframing".

Reframing is like waking up form a bad nightmare. A sudden "ah..hah".

For the Franklinís to "reframe" must realize that Mikeís problem is a disease. His drinking is not a sign of moral weakness or a voluntary rebuff of his familyís values.

He drinks because he is an alcoholic

Second - the Franklinís need to abandon the fruitless search for someone to blame

Third - The third reframing is that the Franklinís must admit that their so-called solutions are as much a problem as their sonís drinking

Fourth - Outside help. A pledge to avoid manipulation, control, over protectiveness and any attempt to make the addicted family member fit a standard or image.

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Sources:

Griffin, E.M. (1997). A First Look at Communication. 3rd edition United States; McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. FILM: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS 'THE BIRD' SCENE 52:53