Ecosystemic Psychology

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  • Topic: Family therapy, Salvador Minuchin, Family
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Critically compare the epistemologies governing the first and second order cybernetic approaches in terms of the following: 1. How is reality seen by each specific approach?
Defining Reality
Before attempting to describe similarities and differences around how these two approaches view reality, a look into what the word ‘reality’ means would be appropriate. Reality is defined as a real existence or actual being as apposed to imaginary, idealised or false. It is something that actually happens in real life and is comparable with fact (Rooney, 2001; Branford, 1987). The information sources chosen for this definition were Oxford and Encarta. From this definition one could deduce that reality is something which could be observed; something which could be quantified in a finite manner. The definition evokes the idea of reality being something that anyone at a given point in time could notice as well as that what is noticed is now some type of actuality or fact. One wonders where and how this ‘reality’ is perceived. Another way of looking at reality is to see it as referring to all that which forms an integral part of what an individual believes to be real (Reber, 2001). Here we see that the idea of objectivity is replaced with the notion of personal objectivity or more correctly subjectivity. Perception and belief relates to an individual and hence from this definition the idea of reality becomes a personal reality. First and second order cybernetics

Already from the definition of reality we have somewhat of an opposing view of what reality is or could be. This difference of view point is similar to how first and second order cybernetics would define reality. From a first order cybernetic perspective one could ask what really is reality? This question would not be in line with a second order approach in that the previous question gives rise to the idea of there being a single construct or value for reality. A truth that is discoverable and obtainable that can then be used as an example that can possibly be put onto a pedestal for a group of people to view it. The idea of a finite truth and there being a real world that can be known with objective certainty is contrary to a second order perspective. The challenge from second order cybernetics

Maturana challenged the way we assume to perceive reality. His findings conclude that there would be no way to be sure of what we think we see is actually there. Maturana proposed a self-enclosed nervous system. Maturana speaks of structural coupling, which according to Hoffman (1985) is similar to skipping rope jumping with one’s eyes closed. She says that it is as if we never actually “obtain” or “touch” the stimulus but rather we generate trajectories invisible to us that are mutually constrained whose connections show up on our panel. Reality is seen as a social construct. Our ideas regarding the world are observer-dependant and not necessarily matched by events and objects “out there” (Boscolo et al, 1987). Reality as a Multiverse

Perception is a process of construction, that is, we invent the environment in which we find our self as we perceive/construct it (Becvar & Becvar, 2006). Each person is seen as being able to create their own reality and thus each person would have a different reality from the next person based on each’s unique mixture of experiences, genetics assumptions and thus perceptions. For each person, their reality is both personally true and valid. The idea of one single universe is not in agreement with second order cybernetics, rather, persons live in a multiverse of many equally valid observer-dependent realities that has no place for objectivity and thus not even subjectivity (Becvar & Becvar, 2006). A storied reality is assumed from a second order cybernetics perspective. The observer and reality

From a first order epistemological stance, the therapist perceives reality as something that one can discover through a process of observation without being...
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