Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Mystification in Families

  • Dana CampagnaEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_15

Name of Concept



Cognitive binding; Communication deviance; Disconfirmation; Double-bind (see distinctions in “Description”); Fusion; Pseudo-mutuality


The practice and experience of mystification is a process by which a member of a family system exerts significant influence over another, functionally defining that individual’s sense of identity, his or her understanding and experience of emotional and cognitive states, and sense of reality in order to serve his/her own need.

Theoretical Context for the Concept

Psychiatrist and early family theorist R.D. Laing is credited with coining the term “mystification,” borrowing it from a concept originally conceived as a macro-sociopolitical concept by Karl Marx in 1867. Marx used the term to describe the obfuscation used by upper socioeconomic classes to suppress lower classes. Narratives originated by the power class meant to perpetuate the myth that their mistreatment and disempowerment was in fact charity...

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  3. Laing, R. D. (1965). Mystification, confusion, and conflict. In I. Boszormenyi-Nagy & J. L. Framo (Eds.), Intensive family therapy; theoretical and practical aspects. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alliant International UniversityLos AngelesUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Molly F. Gasbarrini
    • 1
  1. 1.Alliant International UniversityLos AngelesUSA