John Weakland

John H. Weakland ( born January 8, 1919 in Charleston, West Virginia; † July 18, 1995 in Palo Alto, California ) was an American chemist, anthropologist and co-founder of the Palo Alto group. He is considered a " pioneer in the field of systemic therapy ". With his sharp rejection of the conventional models of disease, he distinguished himself as a categorical critic of traditional psychiatry.

Life and work

After studying chemistry John Weakland worked for six years as an engineer, but turned to 1947, the anthropology and sociology to study with Gregory Bateson, Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict in New York. 1952 or 1953 brought Bateson his former students - together with Jay Haley, Don D. Jackson and William F. Fry - to Palo Alto to work out there at the Veterans Administration Hospital in a research project on human communication, the structure of paradoxes.

From the Bateson project called the one hand, was founded in 1956, the double bond theory of schizophrenia, on the other hand, 1959, the Mental Research Institute (MRI ), also known as Palo Alto group known. The double bond theory then revolutionized the thinking and sat in contradiction to valid hypotheses, whether caused by intrapsychic of schizophrenia. The revolutionaries of Palo Alto, however, were related structures as a cause or at least trigger the disease. One thus evoked paradoxical behavior has a double binding reaction, and so perpetuates the ritualized communication.

While Bateson 1951-1962 who was a professor at Stanford University in Palo Alto, founded Haley, Jackson and Weakland - together with Richard Fish, Jules Riskin, Virginia Satir and Paul Watzlawick - the MRI, which could gain international renown rapidly and to a kind of pilgrimage alternatively oriented people was that there - before 1968 - established structures break up and wanted to question conventions. In Palo Alto Weakland was concerned with the study of analogies between hypnosis and schizophrenia, was committed to Gerontopsychotherapie and was involved in the development of problem-oriented strategic family therapy. In contrast to the structural family therapy here are not the family constellations and their variability in the focal point, but disease or problem behaviors are considered to be the best possible solution available to the patients. Sophisticated "strategic " interventions should lead the client exactly the solution by experiments, and homework help to altered behavior.

Fish and Weakland subsequently developed - and parallel to the School of Milwaukee - from this innovative form of family therapy the solution-focused approach, the Brief Therapy Center at MRI founded and directed this for three decades for two. Fish is still the director of this clinic. John Weakland was close friends with the solution-focused therapists Steve de Shazer and also wrote several prefaces to his books. Braves are the two to each other in 1976, when de Shazer traveled to the second Don D. Jackson Memorial Conference to Palo Alto. John Weakland was married to Anna Wu.

Until his death Weakland served as Clinical Associate Professor at Stanford University.

German -language publications

  • Towards a schizophrenia treatment (together with Bateson, Jackson, Haley ). In: Schizophrenia and Family, ed. Bateson / Jackson / Laing / Haley, Frankfurt / Main 1969, 1-43. ( English original version 1956)
  • Strategies for change: Systemic Brief Therapy (together with fish and Segal ), Stuttgart 1982, 1987
  • Interaction (together with Watzlawick ), Bern 1977, 1980
  • Consulting older people and their families: The practice of applied gerontology, (jointly with Mr. JJ ), Bern 1979, 1984
  • Conversation - but of what kind? Systems 9 (1995 ): 6-15