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Integrating Self And System: An Empty Intersection?

R. Rosenbaum, J. Dyckman
Published 1995 · Psychology, Medicine

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Synthesizing individual and family therapies can founder if the underlying epistemological assumptions concerning "what is self" are not taken into account. Most individual therapies assume self "really" exists as a relatively stable internal entity, the repository of residues of experience where traits, memories, et cetera are organized via internal schemas. Such a view tends to treat self as a thing, and implies that psychological problems are the result of internal deficits or conflicts; this can lead to difficulties in therapy. In contrast, ecosystemic views employ constructivist and contextualist approaches that are more fluid. However, by basing autopoetic self-organization in language, ecosystemic epistemology still separates subject from object. Adopting a perspective in which self has no fixed, distinguishing characteristics can resolve many difficulties and create a dimensionless point where self and system, individual and family, therapist and client can meet without hindrance.
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