Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Negentropy in Family Systems Theory

  • Heather A. LoveEmail author
  • Eric T. Goodcase
  • Jared A. Durtschi
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_293


Negentropy can be defined as the degree of order, organization, and adaptiveness in a family (Beavers and Hampson 2000). On the other hand, entropy can be defined as the degree of chaos, randomness, disorganization, and disorder in a family (Beavers and Hampson 2000). Negentropy exists opposite from entropy on an infinite continuum. In general, a distressed family may come to therapy in a state of entropy while the therapist works with the family in making changes that allow movement towards negentropy (Hecker et al. 2003). Negentropy describes family functioning as working towards optimal organization (Beavers and Voeller 1983). Families are theorized to be drifting towards entropy unless effort is made to maintain the structure, boundaries, and order of a more negentropic family system.

Theoretical Context for Concept

Negative entropy (i.e., negentropy) and entropy are terms from the field of thermodynamics. Originally coined by Erwin Schrödinger (1944), they are...

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG (outside the USA) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heather A. Love
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eric T. Goodcase
    • 1
  • Jared A. Durtschi
    • 1
  1. 1.Kansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Eli Karam
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA