chapter  3
Family Therapy and Medical Illnesses: Fundamental Models
Pages 26

One basic tenet of family therapy is that the "whole of family functioning is larger than the sum of its individual family member's parts" (L' Abate, 1986). This belief is now commonplace and hardly controversial. However, in the social scientific climate of the 1950s and 1960s (dominated by two rigidly determined ideologies: logical positivism on one hand, and neo-Marxist thinking on the other), the belief that family interactions are not reducible to the activities of individual members or to overriding class struggles or economic concerns was quite innovative. Although sociologists recognized the family to be an important and constantly changing social unit (e.g., Parsons, 1955), few clinicians were comfortable with the notion that family functioning was a complex and interactive dynamic process. Instead, families were seen as relatively stable, fixed and resisting influence, and existing in a static manner unless extraordinary stressors disrupted their functional processes (e.g., Mowrer, 1927).