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? According to first-order cybernetics there is one objective reality and our differences in opinion about the same system, is only due to our different interpretations of the same reality (Becvar & Becvar, 2009). First-order cybernetics assumes that the system being observed is separate from the observer, who would be able to objectively observe the system from the outside and influence it, without entering the system itself (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2004). Second-order cybernetics on the other hand assumes that there is no such thing as reality. There is no absolute, objective system, but for each person there is a different system, which is absolutely valid (Becvar & Becvar, 2009). Reality is seen as an agreed upon consensus that occurs through social interaction of members of a system (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2004).
2. How is health and pathology addressed by each approach? In order to define pathology, one would have to have a definition of normalcy, hence an objective reality of what normalcy entails. This is not in line with second-order cybernetics as in second-order cybernetics “reality” is not an objective truth (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2004). Pathology would thus only exist as a subjective truth. What constitutes normalcy for the one person may be seen as pathologic by the next. First-order cybernetics, on the other hand, does allow for the diagnoses of pathology as reality is seen as an objective truth of which individuals only have different perceptions.
3. How does each specific approach deal with therapy? Hoffman 1990 (as cited in Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2004) explains that the first-order view of family therapy assumes that the therapist can influence his/her clients by using this or that technique. Whilst in second-order cybernetics the therapist forms part of the...
References: Becvar, D.S., & Becvar, R.J. (2009). Family therapy: A systemic integration (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Goldenber, I., & Goldenberg, H (2004). Family therapy: An overview (6th ed.). London: Thompson.
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