Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

First Order Cybernetics

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-15877-8_274-1


First Order Cybernetics


The history and evolution of the conceptual basis and practice of family therapy relies heavily on principles of cybernetics. At the same time, in truly cybernetic fashion, cybernetics itself owes much to contributions from family therapy. This entry explores this mutual process. Gregory Bateson, whose work embodies the mutual relationship between cybernetics and family therapy, famously stated that “cybernetics is the biggest bite out of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge that mankind has taken in the last 2000 years” – a statement that we return to and build on in our entry. We introduce key principles of cybernetics, including ideas of circularity, nonlinearity, recursion, processes of self-correction and processes of deviation amplification. We concern ourselves with key cybernetic questions, such as how might a system, including a family system, or a therapeutic system, organize itself to maintain stability/homeostasis and balance that...

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Audiovisual Media

  1. Psychotherapy.net (Producer). (2011). Salvador Minuchin on family therapy. With Salvador Minuchin, MD and Jay Lappin, LCSW [DVD]. Available from http://www.psychotherapy.net/video/minuchin-family-therapy

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Fielding Graduate UniversitySanta BarbaraUSA
  3. 3.Minuchin Center for the FamilyWoodburyUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • David Kearns
    • 1
  • Bahareh Sahebi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.The Family Institute at Northwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA