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Dealing with Double Binds

With Robert Dilts

What is unique about this programme?

A "double bind" is a special type of conflict which creates a "no-win" situation; i.e., a situation in which one is "damned if you do, and damned if you don't." According to anthropologist Gregory Bateson, who originally defined the notion of the double bind, such conflicts are at the root of both creativity and psychosis. The difference is whether or not one is able to identify and transcend the bind in an appropriate way.

Double binds often have quality of circularity, making them into a type of "Catch-22," and leading to a sense of confusion and helplessness. A classic example would be that of the Salem witch trials, in which one of the tests to see if a person was a witch was to bind the person and cast her into the water. If the person floated and survived, then she was determined to be a witch, and was put to death. If the person sank and drowned, she was exonerated with respect to being a witch, but was, of course, also dead. Thus, the essential structure of a double bind is:

If you do not do A, you will not (survive, be safe, have fun, etc.). But if you do do A, you will not (survive, be safe, have fun, etc.).

The most emotionally intense double binds occur in the context of significant interpersonal relationships. They often involve what appears to be a power struggle in which one person is trying to "make the other person wrong." Such a struggle can also occur between the inner "parts" of a person.

These types of insolvable struggles are often at the root of both mental and physical illness. They can also arise during a person's attempts to heal, and thwart progress towards wellness. Yet, even though double binds can appear formidable, it is possible to get out of them, given the appropriate skills and conditions. Getting relief from a double bind situation essentially comes from recognizing and addressing the "conditions" which are required to produce the double bind. In his book Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Gregory Bateson defines the essential 'ingredients' for a double bind. This presentation will cover ways to identify double binds, and the underlying conditions which create them, and some of the ways in which double binds can be resolved or transcended.

About the Trainer

What people are saying

"This is profound! I think that I probably got more form these 3 days than any other. It's beautiful to watch Robert work. He not only has great command over his subject, he puts it over so well too!" GB - Training Consultant, Berkshire

"I was able to learn effortlessly and with great enjoyment. He helped me to relax with the learning, entertained and interested me. He was great!" LC - Marketing Consultant, Surrey

"I found Robert extremely generous and warm to people. He made no attempt to sell, simply to share which was wonderful for me and others mentioned this too" KB - Berkshire

Dates: 28 February - 1 March 2004
Venue: Central London
Price: £410 + vat

Book Course / Download PDF flyer / read article posted 21/10/03