Gregory Bateson in contemporary cross-cultural systemic psychotherapy

Krause, Inga-Britt (2007) Gregory Bateson in contemporary cross-cultural systemic psychotherapy. Kybernetes, 36 (7/8). pp. 915-925. ISSN 0368-492X

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Purpose – This paper seeks to examine the relevance of Bateson's ethnographic work to systemic psychotherapy. Design/methodology/approach – The paper addresses this by examining Bateson's work with the naven ritual practiced by the Iatmul people of New Guinea. Bateson published this work in an ethnography entitled Naven, which has largely been ignored by systemic psychotherapists. Findings – It is argued that Bateson's early work has been neglected in the field of psychotherapy despite being highly relevant to the development of cross-cultural approaches in this field. The paper summarises Bateson's arguments in the main body of the book and in the two epilogues which provide Bateson's own commentary on this work. Key concepts such as “context” “pattern” and “ethos” are discussed. The paper also addresses the issues of how psychotherapists and ethnographers have access to the meaning of their interlocutors and outlines some pointers given by Bateson upon which psychotherapists may build in their cross-cultural work with clients. Bateson's thinking about emotional, sociological and behavioural patterns and the way he involved himself in interpreting these is briefly considered in relation to the work of the anthropologist/sociologist Pierre Bourdieu on the one hand, and the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion, on the other. Practical implications – The theoretical discussion aims to contribute to the development of a rigorous approach to cross-cultural psychotherapy and to the integration of social science and psychotherapy. Originality/value – The paper will be of value to systemic psychotherapists, psychotherapists generally, anthropologists, social scientists and clinicians interested in cross-cultural clinical work and in ethnographic enquiry.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Race and Culture > Culture and Psychotherapy
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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