Strange Attractors: Chaos, Complexity, and the Art of Family Therapy

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9780471079514: Strange Attractors: Chaos, Complexity, and the Art of Family Therapy

"A realm lies there of forms to explore and harmonies to discover." --David Ruelle, codiscoverer of strange attractors

Strange attractors are hidden islands of stability, subtle patterns of order at the heart of chaos. They are among the handful of breakthrough discoveries that gave rise to what has been called the third great scientific revolution of the twentieth century, chaos theory. Offering a revolutionary new rubric for understanding the natural world, chaos theory arms scientists with a set of powerful tools for studying complex systems in fields as diverse as particle physics, evolutionary biology, and meteorology. Now, behavioral scientists have discovered that chaos theory--which the APA Monitor identified as "an important new paradigm in psychology"--also has profound implications for deciphering human behavior.

Written by three leaders in the field, Strange Attractors explains how the principles of chaos theory can help mental health professionals arrive at a more profound understanding of the dynamics of one of the most complicated nonlinear systems--the family. Both a general introduction to chaos theory and a guide to its clinical applications, Strange Attractors details various chaos-based approaches to the assessment and treatment of families.

Central to all of the approaches outlined in this book is the concept of families as organic systems with boundaries and patterns that grow and change in complicated ways. Unlike a machine, which is a closed system, a family is open-ended, and its survival depends upon its ability to weather periods of extreme turbulence and chaos en route to calmer oases. The job of the family therapist is to identify the strange attractors that promote transformation. Using vivid vignettes and rich metaphors, Strange Attractors demonstrates how readers can apply the science of chaos theory to the art of engendering family change.

Acclaim for Strange Attractors

"Family interaction is one of the most important areas of the application of the dynamics of change. This book does an outstanding job of demystifying a complex science and blending the technical and the metaphoric." --

Anyone who has ever sat through a family holiday dinner knows how multilayered and entangled interactions between relatives can be. Like a collision of billiard balls, the rhythms of day-to-day family interplay are intricate and often appear unpredictable--and the dance of families in crisis is even more complex. Yet, while certain family phenomena may appear to be random, they are actually part of a larger coherent process. This groundbreaking book sheds light on how chaos theory can be used to decipher and promote change in complicated family dynamics.

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From the Publisher:

This book offers practical clinical guidelines for applying chaos theory in a therapeutic setting to one of the most complex "nonlinear systems"-- the family. Using vivid case vignettes, the authors illustrate how the tenets of chaos theory can be used to understand family relationships and promote change in interactional patterns. Offers an intuitive, accessible explanation of the tenets of chaos theory.

About the Author:

MICHAEL R. BUTZ, PhD, is Director of Child, Adolescent and Substance Abuse Services at Cornerstone Behavioral Health in Evanston, Wyoming.

LINDA L. CHAMBERLAIN, PsyD, is a Clinical Psychologist at the Colorado Family Center and a member of the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and the Life Sciences.

WILLIAM G. McCOWN, PhD, is Associate Professor of Psychology at Northeast Louisiana University and coauthor of Therapy with Treatment Resistant Families.

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Bütz, Michael R., Chamberlain, Lind
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Michael R. B?tz, Linda L. Chamberlain, William G. McCown
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