Aesthetics of Change

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Guilford Press, Jul 22, 2002 - Psychology - 217 pages
The fundamental concern of psychotherapy is change. While practitioners are constantly greeted with new strategies, techniques, programs, and interventions, this book argues that the full benefits of the therapeutic process cannot be realized without fundamental revision of the concept of change itself. Applying cybernetic thought to family therapy, Bradford P. Keeney demonstrates that conventional epistemology, in which cause and effect have a linear relationship, does not sufficiently accommodate the reciprocal nature of causation in experience. Written in an unconventional style that includes stories, case examples, and imagined dialogues between an epistemologist and a skeptical therapist, the volume presents a philosophically grounded, ecological framework for contemporary clinical practice.
 

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I've read this book a number of times and each time I get more from it. It's essentially an integration of the work of Gregory Bateson, Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. It looks at the epistemological premises behind the phenomena of change using the principles of first order and second order cybernetics. It uses the results of this analysis to illuminate the work of systemically oriented family therapists as well as Milton Erickson's hypnotic like interventions.
I have to say it's not an easy book to read for the systems theory neophyte. I recommend that before reading this book the reader new to these ideas start with Fritjof Capra's books such as 'The Turning Point' which includes a good chapter on Gregory Bateson's systems view of life as well as 'The Web of Life' which gives a good introduction to Maturana and Varela's work on second order cybernetics. Also reading some of the essays in Gregory Bateson's book 'Steps to an Ecology of Mind' especially those in part 2 of this book that deal with form and pathology in relationships.
This may seem like a lot of reading but it's worth it. I recall reading when this book was was first published in the early 80's it caused an intellectual storm. Reading groups were set up composed of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, psychotherapists and others involved in the field of mental health, and rightly so since it is a masterpiece that has never been matched in terms of its ability to illuminate the revolutionary ideas that were behind the creation of the systemic/family therapy movement.
 

Contents

Introduction
1
Fundamentals of Epistemology
12
Laws of Form
18
Punctuation
24
Orders of Recursion
29
Double Description
37
Constructing a Reality
44
Discussion
48
Therapist
129
Ecology
134
Discussion
142
Cybernetics of Therapeutic Change
150
Modeling Pattern
151
Orders of Learning
155
Unconscious Process
160
Sociofeedback
168

Cybernetic Epistemology
61
Simple Cybernetics
64
Cybernetics of Cybernetics
73
SelfReference
77
Autonomy
82
Dialectic of Calibration and Feedback
87
Cybernetic Complementarities
92
Discussion
95
A Cybernetic Description of Family Therapy
110
Cybernetic Systems
116
Pathology and Health
122
Discussion
174
An Aesthetic Base for Family Therapy
187
Art and Craft
191
Practice
192
The Royal Road to Epistemology
195
A Beginning
197
Discussion
199
References
202
Author Index
209
Subject Index
213
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About the author (2002)

Bradford P. Keeney, PhD, has worked at some of the most respected psychotherapy centers in the United States, including the Ackerman Institute in New York City, the Karl Menninger Center in Topeka, and the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic. He has served as Director of clinical doctoral programs at Texas Tech University and Nova University, and as Director of Scholarly Studies at the University of St. Thomas. He is the author of numerous classic works in the field of family therapy.

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