October 1960

The "Double-Bind" and Delinquent Behavior

Author Affiliations

San Jose, Calif.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;3(4):359-367. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.01710040029005

In our groping for a firm foundation upon which the immense superstructure of Psychiatry could be built, the concept of "double-bind" stands out as an important theoretical step. With a degree of formalization to which we have grown unaccustomed, the double-bind concept has prompted us to move the focus of attention from the intrapersonal to the interpersonal and to leave behind the notion of "trauma" for that of characteristic sequential patterns among the elements of a family unit.

Bateson3,4 described the "double-bind" as a sequence of messages of different logical types9 such that, in their imbrications, one conflictingly comments on the other. Since this sort of sequence of messages is abundantly encountered in the first and basic relationships of the schizophrenic, it was postulated (Bateson, Jackson, Weakland, Haley) that at the communicational level "double-binds" characterize, in an etiological sense, the schizophrenogenic relationship. Along these lines, some

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