Current post-modern articulations of systems theory emphasize the self-organization and autonomy of living systems. From this perspective the presence of symptoms in a system indicates that the conserved autonomy is of an ambivalent nature embodying the system’s striving for an ideal way of living and the simultaneous failure of this quest. The traditional format of psychological treatment typically opposes the symptom and allies itself with the idealistic pole of the ambivalence, discounting and thereby threatening the system’s ambivalent autonomy. This often strengthens symptomatic efforts to conserve the ambivalence. Treatment can circumvent this trap by means of careful questioning. In this way the symptomatic ambivalence can be approached respectfully and allowed to disassemble itself “spontaneously”. The purpose of this paper is to show how symptoms can be seen as reflections of a conserved ambivalent autonomy and to describe the questioning process theoretically and by means of a case example.
|Keywords:||Self-Organization of Systems, Conservation of Ambivalence, Symptoms as Reflections of Ambivalence, Questioning, Reframing|
Professor, Department of Psychology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
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