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Double Blind

Trapped in a System with No Place to Go (page 175).
This section in chapter 13 reminded me a lot of the “strange loop” theory that dealt with the child with aspergers. If the parents treated him like he had the disease, and gave him compassion, love and acceptance, he started acting and feeling better. But once he started acting better, they questioned his disease, and began to hold it against him. Their changed behavior and attitude towards him, in turn made his symptoms worse, which led them right back to where they started. It seems to be a catch 22, evil cycle, much like the once explained as a “double blind” (175). The author described this with sayings like “you ought to love me” or “be spontaneous” (175). How can you demand someone to love you or to be spontaneous? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose? You are damned if you do, and you are damned if you don't. This lack of symmetry in any relationship is unhealthy and can lead to many resentments. I know from experience that expectations are just resentments waiting to happen. If you give freely, and love freely, not asking or expecting anything in return, you will be much happier than not. It is kind of like reframing in a sense, because you are choosing to look at whatever you are giving, as a gift with no strings attached. Therefor if you get something in return you will be pleasantly surprised and delighted. And if you get nothing in return, you will not be let down, nor will you feel asymmetrical in the gains and losses of your relationship. I love how all of these theories and terms link together in some way or another. It gives me a fuller picture of communication theory and how it relates to almost everything in our lives.


  1. Your thoughts about “strange loop” make sense to me too.

    As a parent, it is very easy to get into a double blind with my own children child. The parent, in high-power position, expects and demands the child, who is the low-power party, to behave as if the parent and the child are equal (symmetrical interchange). Invariably, the child breaches this covenant sooner more than later. The cycle continues unabated (double blind). It does sound like strange loop. The textbook examples, the intoxicant-addicted child and the Asperger’s-syndrome child, while not that unusual, are a bit severe. I think double blind and strange loop happen all the time in families without such acute problems. Reframing seems like a fascinating approach, radically changing one’s perspective, stepping aside and reinterpreting events, and looking at situations objectively as an outsiders would. However, Watzlawick admits that reframing requires outside help, namely family therapy. Considering that most families have these kinds of double blind issues so frequently, it is a bit impractical to run to therapists all the time. I found the FA closing line, “I can change myself. Others I can only love” quite profound.

  2. Having certain expectations of people, or living up to the expectations of others is quite exhausting. It is not fair to either you or the person you are in a relationship in. It defeats the purpose of building the relationship since it seems that no matter what you or another person does is just going to make you end up with disappointment. For any relationship to work, there needs to be some kind of symmetry.