May 25, 2005

Feedback, pos & neg

Ok, here are a few notes about feedback. The concept of feedback involves family members who monitor the "transformational processes and output to see if they are within acceptable standards." So, they way that parents monitor their children's behavior is a prime example.

When there are changes to what is routine (homeostatic), there is vigilance by those responsible for the "welfare of the system" to determine whether the change is helpful or not. When change occurs, the family can either try to increase or decrease the changes (this is the feedback loop). Increasing the changes is called the positive feedback loop (Kantor and Lehr called it "variety feedback loops"). Discouraging the changes is called a negative feedback loop (Kantor & Lehr's term: "constancy feedback loops"). Constantine called them "amplifying" and "attenuating" feedback loops.

Posted by gschache at 11:16 PM

Notes on Change

These are rather disconnected notes on change taken from my readings for the semester. Use them as you dare!

Change is a process of becoming. By its very definition, change is dynamic, a function of time.

Change is basic to the definition of a system, whereas a system is two or more units in relationship where change in any one unit changes ALL units. However, in a system there is no linear cause & effect relationship: change is recursive.

Change can lead to equifinality (multiple stimuli leading to the same result) or equipotentiality (single stimulus leading to multiple results, aka multifinality).

Change can take place within a system as first order (superficial, limited) or second order (morphogenetic) change.

Bateson described change (in part) as a self-regulating cybernetic process, driven by information via feedback loops in the system (output becomes input). A negative feedback loop (or, a deviation attentuating feedback loop) dampens change by returning the system to its original set point (my term). A positive (or deviation amplifying) feedback loop changes the system to a different level of organization (a la second order change).

Maturana looked at change differently. To him, a living system was organizationally closed, and thus, autonomous. As such, information which was external to the system could not induce change. (Actually, I think he said that there is no information, period.) Rather, change within a system was determined by the system structure, which is dynamic. Living systems have a structural plasticity which (when structurally coupled with another system or with its own environment) causes the coupled structures to co-evolve. The more "richly structurally coupled" the system was, the higher level of organization accomplished (negentropy).

If I put this all into a mathematical formula, it might look like this (with apologies to Maturana, because I just gotta go with the concept of information):

system(s) + intrasystemic patterns + stimulus (ie, information: action OR inaction) + time = CHANGE

Posted by mkellehe at 6:04 PM

May 22, 2005

Entropy/Negentropy

We're talking 2nd Law of Thermodynamics here:

Take a closed, non-living system; this is a VERY important part of this. It must be closed (without energy exchange) and non-living. Okay, now let everything in the system move toward equilibrium.

That means everything goes to its most basic components and distributes evenly. If this is energy, then it all becomes waste heat. This is the degree of disorder (disorder at its greatest) in the system. This is entropy.

Beavers called it the degree of random disorder in a family. But then, Beavers was ignoring the caveat of closed, non-living systems.

For negentropy, you have a living system, one which is open (exchange of information). It is moving toward increasing complexity (a la Teilhard de Chardin's evolutionary movement of the universe).

Beavers also defined negentropy as the degree of order and predictability in a family. At least he got the open, living system right that time.

Posted by mkellehe at 4:54 PM

Dialectic

This will be interesting, considering that this is what YOU concentrated on!

Hegel defined dialectics as "Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis". Good but WAY too simple!

Maybe a better definition is a process of change that takes place within or through relationship. It is dynamic, using both movement and time. And that relationship between two systems plays a role in making them what they are; all relationships are transformative.

Within the GST context, dialectics refers to the relationship between two or more systems that produces an ecosystem. It is also the basis for that concept which was drilled into me during my clinical training: Both/And. (Actually, it makes a lot of sense that way: BOTH thesis + antithesis combined produce something beyond the two: synthesis (AND).

The more I think back on how Jim used dialectic in terms of what was happening in couple therapy, the more sense it makes. And I must admit, this was a term that baffled me until the last few weeks, and now I'm jazzed about it.

Posted by mkellehe at 4:45 PM

Dialectic

This will be interesting, considering that this is what YOU concentrated on!

Hegel defined dialectics as "Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis". Good but WAY too simple!

Maybe a better definition is a process of change that takes place within or through relationship. It is dynamic, using both movement and time. And that relationship between two systems plays a role in making them what they are; all relationships are transformative.

Within the GST context, dialectics refers to the relationship between two or more systems that produces an ecosystem. It is also the basis for that concept which was drilled into me during my clinical training: Both/And. (Actually, it makes a lot of sense that way: BOTH thesis + antithesis combined produce something beyond the two: synthesis (AND).

The more I think back on how Jim used dialectic in terms of what was happening in couple therapy, the more sense it makes. And I must admit, this was a term that baffled me until the last few weeks, and now I'm jazzed about it.

Posted by mkellehe at 4:45 PM

Isomorphism

Isomorphism means equivalence of form. It means that the elements and relationships of one system can be placed in one-to-one correspondence with the elements and relationships of another system.

I tend to conceptualize this as Mandelbrot fractals: have you ever looked at fractals and seen how a section that looks like a unfurling fern frond is really comprised of the same thing on a tiny scale: lots of little bitty fronds. I don't know if this is a useful or even a correct conceptualization, but it seems to stick in my mind (I'm really visual, aren't I?).

Another, and perhaps better definition of it, is structural parallels throughout an ecosystem which reflects the nature of the entire system. I had a patient who had been sexually abused as a child by an older male relative. She had an extensive history of abusive domestic relationships as an adult. Finally she found the love of her life: unfortunately (or fortunately), he was incarcerated for life for murder. Issues of rage, violence and abuse permeated her entire existence; they were isomorphic within this system.

Suggestions? Changes?

Posted by mkellehe at 4:34 PM

May 19, 2005

Autopoiesis

Humberto Maturana (along with Francisco Varela) originated this idea because he was dissatisfied with the way living systems were being defined and he wanted to tease out the "living machines" which contribute to the invariance involved in natural selection.
The term autopoiesis is defined literally as "self" (auto) and "creation" or "production" (poiesis).

In cell metabolism there are processes which interact & transform such that processes are regenerated AND this network of processes constitute the cell. Here is a definition I found through an internet source, "A system is autopoietic if the bits and pieces of which it is composed interact with each other in such a way as to continually produce and maintain that set of bits and pieces and the relationships between them."

When it comes to systems, autopoiesis would indicate that a system is defined by its structure (composed of bits and pieces and the relationships between them).

When applied to structure coupling, a system is conceived as being autonomous and having rigid boundaries that have been shaped (regenerated) through interaction with the environment over time (just as the environment has been shaped by its interaction with the system). There is a interplay or congruence between system and environment that emerges(!) from the "changes that each prompts in the other" (internet source).

In social systems, there is "behavioral coordination through mutual and recursive structural change." Language is one such activity that experiences change over time.

i gotta go...more later.
gregg

Posted by gschache at 3:35 PM

Some More Terms

Gregg, I always feel like such a slacker when I read your postings. But here are mine anyway, without your depth:

I've got a way of connecting several terms that I'll share with you. Recall that old story of the elephant and the blind men? The one where a group of blind men tried to describe an elephant based on the portion of the elephant each was in actual contact with? Where one guy at the tail thought an elephant was like a rope, the one at the side thought a wall, the one by the legs thought a tree trunk, and so on? Got it? Okay, here goes:

Ontology is the elephant -- what actually exists.

Information is the sensory data gathered by the blind men.

Epistomology is the process that each blind man has gone through which allows him to formulate his model (e.g., one has learned to evaluate phenomena via his hands, and he learned to recognize ropes from experiences in his life tying rope; hence, an elephant must be a rope).

A model is an attempt to describe the whole from data points, and used the process delineated by the individual's epistemology. Just like stats, the more data you have, the greater the probability of describing the whole. However, it will never be anything other than a description. Models are never real -- just approximations of reality.

Holism would be what you would get if one of those guys explored the elephant from top to bottom in all 3 dimensions, listened to its sounds, smelled it, checked out its innards, and behaviorally interacted with it, with all of this done in a dynamic process. More simply, it is what you would have had (to some degree) if all the blind men had sat down and traded their data, so they would have ended with a description of the whole, rather than all the parts.

If the elephant happened to poop during the exam by the blind guys, that would have been an emergent property. It is emergent because it was produced in concert with various systems within the elephant, not just one. And if you wanted to study just how it was produced, you would be looking at elephantine ecology when studying the interrelated systems and how the action of mastication was connected down the line to the impact of microflora, and how all of this impacted elephantine-perceived quality of life. These relationships between/among sub/meso/macro systems constitute part of the ecosystem of the elephant.

One more thing: is there any way to change the graphic format of the blog? As cool as it looks, I think one of the reasons I avoid it is because it is visually confusing to read and tires me out very fast.

Ciao, Mary

Posted by mkellehe at 1:39 PM

Equifinality

Equifinality comes from the realm of nonlinear causation. Rather than thinking in linear fashion that one cause leads to one effect, nonlinear causation considers that an infinite number of causes may be at work to cause an effect. This is based on indeterministic processes. Equifinality posits that there may be different routes that lead to the same effect. In the words of Bavelas and Segal (1982, p. 103) equifinality is the ideas that "many beginnings can lead to the same outcome and the same beginning can lead to different outcomes." The word implies that final effects can stem from multiple or fairly "equal"" causes.

For example, overparenting and underparenting can lead to the same kind of underachievement in children. Most phenomena in family life do not follow a 1:1 cause-effect dynamic.

Another aspect is that one cause can lead to opposite effects in families. For instance, a parent who is a rigid disciplinarian could produce child who grows into an overly strict parent or one that is too permissive. Or a mother who struggles with alcoholism may produce a son or daughter who struggles with alcoholism or marries someone who does.

Posted by gschache at 11:03 AM