61 CHAPTER 4: STRATEGIC AND SYSTEMIC MODELS Strategic Family Therapy OVERVIEW The strategic family therapy models were developed in the 1950s. They arose from two primarily sources: first, Gregory Bateson and the Palo Alto Group, who had applied the science of cybernetics to family communication patterns, and second, Milton Erickson, who developed revolutionary paradoxical interventions that capitalized on people’s natural reluctance to change to bring about rapid changes in psychiatric symptoms. The Palo Alto Group . Gregory Bateson was joined in 1953, first by Jay Haley and John Weakland and later by William Fry . In 1954 Bateson received a grant from the Macy Foundation to study schizophrenia and was then joined by Don Jackson . The group studied the family communication patterns of people diagnosed with schizophrenia to try to determine the origin of the symptoms. Guiding their work were concepts derived from cybernetics , the study of how information-processing systems are controlled by feedback loops. They viewed families as information processing systems and applied the cybernetics concepts to patterns of interaction. They “assumed that psychotic behavior in one member of a family might make sense in the context of pathological family communication” ( Nichols & Schwartz, 1998, p. 28 ) . They hypothesized that a complex communication pattern called the double bind, (see below) might account for psychotic symptoms in a family member. The proposed explanation was intriguing but controversial since it challenged the prevailing biological “disease” theory. Although the researchers did find disordered communication patterns in these families, no definitive evidence demonstrates that schizophrenic symptoms are the result, and the biological model dominates today. Double Bind . The term double bind has been commonly misused to simply describe a contradictory message, but the Palo Alto group was referring to interactions that are more complex. There are six characteristics of a double bind ( Nichols & Schwartz, 1998 ) . 1. The communication involves two or more people who have an important emotional relationship. 2. The pattern of communication is repeated. 3. The communication involves a “primary negative injunction” ( Nichols & Schwartz, p. 28 ) or a command not to do something on threat of punishment. 4. The communication also involves a second abstract injunction also under threat of punishment that contradicts the primary injunction. 5. A third negative injunction both demands a response and prevents escape, effectively binding the recipient of the demand.