The American Journal of Semiotics

Volume 19, Issue 1/4, 2003

Special Issue on Gregory Bateson

Alexander Kozin
Pages 221-241

The Sign of Love
Gregory Bateson and the Family Therapy Paradigm

In this essay, I argue for the continuous influence of Gregory Bateson’s Communicology on the field of family therapy. My argument is based on a re-examination of Bateson’s Palo Alto research period. More specifically, I suggest that family therapy saw its genesis in Bateson’s work on the double bind paradox, which has become the matrix for the family’s communication system approach. In this essay I closely examine the paradox’s structure from two perspectives: systemic and semiotic. I show how several main elements of the problem posed by Bateson translated into various approaches to family therapy thus constituting it as a self-sustaining paradigm.