Emotional impact requires an experiential orientation, which was central to the approach of Milton Erickson. When the goal is emotional impact, a unique, heuristic grammar is needed that is decidedly different from the algorithmic grammar of providing didactic information. To learn science, one needs information. To change mood, perspective, and state, one uses a grammar that is central to the arts. By harnessing the grammar of art, emotional impact can be facilitated for therapy, work and relationships.
A family presents their 17-year-old daughter who attempted suicide to Dr. Minuchin. Minuchin discovers from the father that he and his wife hace been psychologically divorced since the birth of the daughter, and the mother states that she still feels single. Exploring the spouse and parental subsystems gives a map of the family. Minuchin attempts to construct an alternative family organization in which the adolescent children form a healing subsystem.
A session with Dr. Minuchin as he works with an Italian immigrant family with five children. The family began therapy as the daughter, 16, was diagnosed with anorexia two years previously and the symptoms were still present. From the first moments of the session, the mother’s undisputed power emerges, leading to a polemic between belonging and autonomy.
In this session, Dr. Minuchin consults with a family consisting of a mother, father, and a 15-year-old son who is in treatment for depression. The session focuses on shifting the family’s sense of belonging to allow son to begin to become more autonomous. The social worker of the son’s treatment unit sits in on the session.