UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Connection and completion : configurations of change Flemons, Douglas Garfield


This thesis attempts to construct a conceptual map for thinking about family therapy in a recursive way. The axes used for this map are 1) the Taoist philosophy of change in the Chinese classic I Ching, and 2) the cybernetic epistemology of Gregory Bateson. Each is used to help explicate the other. The relational character of patterned change in the I Ching is explored in depth from five different perspectives. The first discusses the elusive and paradoxical subject of the Tao, the meta-pattern which interweaves stability and change, and connects all living systems in a dynamic recursive balance. The Tao is process, the context of all change, and is closely related to Bateson's notion of immanent Mind. The second perspective examines the nature of the relationship between yin and yang, the complementary opposites that are both distinct (separate) and mutually dependent (connected). The relation between connection and separation is the basis of the recursive balance of life and death, and is an important theme in therapy. The third perspective presents a model for the understanding of gradual development and sudden transformation as part of a cyclic process of completion. Like a plant going to seed, the maturation of a situation or relationship heralds both death and renewal. But such completion is only possible when there is a flowing connection between parts of the system. The counsellor uses various techniques for helping the family connect in ways which allow old patterns to disperse and new ones to emerge. There are some indications that the authors of the I Ching were directly influenced by the Chinese philosophy of music. The fourth perspective discusses this possibility in some depth and then turns to modern jazz theory as a means of characterizing the relationship between family and therapist, and of explaining the way change is introduced into the therapeutic system. The fifth perspective explains the nature of the I Ching's curious diagrams of change known as "hexagrams." Based on the relation between yin and yang, and illustrated with mantic, philosophical, and poetic phrases, hexagrams, in both structure and image, are metaphoric expressions of process and connection. The thesis concludes with a case-history of a dysfunctional family and a description of their changes In terms of the principles outlined in the previous chapters.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.