Bateson was one of my early heroes, and his concept of the “double bind” was a revelation. Especially the example which he used to explain it: the mother who calls to her child while pulling away. Why was that so important for me? Because it’s exactly the situation I was in. I was a mother of young children, and while I knew I loved them, there was something in me which was always pulling away.
The double-bind is a paradoxical kind of communication that has fertilized family systems therapy ever since.
Any double bind induces paralysis. There’s no way out, the only way is through. We are in the same situation now collectively: the double bind of what we perceive as the need to “grow” the economy by devouring more and more natural resources while also becoming more aware that we live on a finite world with rapidly depleting resources.
Again, the only way is through. Every paradox is a growing point, breaking us through to a new reality, a new way of perceiving both the economy and our Mother Earth.
Bateson: “There are times when I catch myself from thinking that there is something which is separate from something else.”
Here’s the trailer to a 201o film, Ecology of Mind, by his granddaughter, Nora Bateson.