Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

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

Mental Research Institute

  • Reed LetsingerEmail author
  • Karin Schlanger
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_600


The Mental Research Institute, or MRI, was founded in 1958 in Palo Alto, California, by Don D. Jackson. The goal of the Institute was to do research on interactional therapy, which later extended to the practice of family therapy, in the prevalent environment of psychoanalysis. Jackson began applying systemic thinking to understanding psychological problems. He observed many examples where successful treatment of a patient’s symptoms was followed by the development of new problems in close family associates of the patient. He hypothesized that psychiatric symptoms sometimes occur as part of repetitive patterns of interaction between family members that serve to help stabilize the family in a state of dynamic equilibrium. This hypothesis led to the idea that the symptom can be treated by helping the family break out of those patterns and find a new equilibrium state that does not require the symptom.

During the 1950s, Jackson worked closely with the research group run by...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mental Research InstitutePalo AltoUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Thorana Nelson
    • 1
  1. 1.Utah State UniversitySanta FeUSA