Seeing her cross her arms and back away, he withdrew his gesture. The mother then admonished her son about how he should show more affection when she came to visit, which led to his having a psychotic episode after she left. The team believed that the only way a person continuously exposed to paradoxical messages could behave was through schizophrenic expression (Bateson et al., 1956).


Although this paper garnered much discussion, it was primarily theoretical in nature. In fact, the team began to interview families with a schizophrenic member only around the time of the paper’s publication. Haley candidly reflects (in Simon, 1992): When Bateson came up with the double-bind hypothesis, he had never seen a family. He developed it in 1954, and we didn’t see a family until about 1956 or 1957. We wrote the double-bind paper in June 1956; it was published in September 1956—the fastest journal publication ever done,


I think, Although a theoretical paper of this type would not be published today without some form of clinical support, it is noteworthy how it influenced schizophrenia research, and therapy practices in general, for the next several decades. Unfortunately, although the mental health establishment was uplifted by these ideas, the same may not be said for the families of schizophrenics.