Negative Explanation in Family Systems Theory
Family systems theory and cybernetics are theories that can be used to explain how problems form and are maintained in human systems. Negative explanation is an aspect of cybernetic theory that emphasizes restraints. According to negative explanation, events take a particular course because they are constrained* from taking other courses (Breunlin 1999; White 1986). Alternatively, positive explanation seeks to determine the causes of particular events. Rather than focusing on “Why?”, negative explanation involves describing the constraints under which systems operate. Negative explanation allows therapists to better explain and understand family interactions by examining the constraints under which the family system operates (White 1986).
Theoretical Context for Concept
Negative explanation is a concept generally associated with cybernetic theory. Cybernetics, a subset of systems theory, is the study of self-regulating systems, which aims to understand...
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