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Double Binds in Human Communication Essay

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Updated: Oct 22nd, 2021

A double bind can be said to be a communication dilemma received by a person or a group of persons, whereby the message conceived seems to have more than one message which is conflicting and where one message seems to disagree with another. In a double bind if a person succeeds in complying with one message, then he completely fails in the other message. This means that the person will be put in the wrong no matter what message he responds to and he cannot solve the wrong nor quit the situation. This can be very destructive if frequent double binds are encompassed in a lasting relationship in which the person or group is involved and is committed (Bateson, 147).

It is important to note that human communication is very complicated because it involves a lot of signals being sent to and from one point to another. It involves verbal and other nonverbal communication which has to be put into consideration. Apart from the nonverbal communication signals that have to be carefully looked at, there is also an environment that should be considered when messages are being translated. There are numerous things to consider when human beings are communicating and overlooking one of the factors may lead to very disruptive messages. This can be said to be the basis of a double bind where people send and receive messages with various abstractions and reasoning and sometimes it is normal for a person to overlook one of the various factors to be considered (Watts, 59).

In a double-bind situation, there must be two points of communication that are; the sender and the receiver. In the same respect, the sender may be a group or an individual while the receiver may be also a group or an individual. One person is classified as the victim while the other is generally seen as a person or group in authority with good examples being employers, teachers, and parents. It can be very damaging to the victim if the relationship between the victim and the authoritative group or person is highly valued by the victim. This means that the victim feels like he or she cannot salvage the relationship between the two groups or individuals and hence this means that the double bind is a very destructive albeit a very strong phenomenon (Bateson, 169).

Example

The phrase “you must be free” can be said to be one of the best examples. Freedom is the ability to do whatever you want at your own time and when you feel like doing it. However, being forced to do something means that you are not free at all and that you have to comply with higher authority or a victimizing body. The phrase contradicts itself because it is forcing somebody to be free while in the real sense being free means that you are not being forced to do anything. This is very contradicting because the first message means that one should be free and this means that he or she has the liberty to do as he pleases and also to do what one wants to do at any time and anywhere. The second message is conceived to mean that the individual should be free and this has no negotiation otherwise there will be some consequences if he or she does not become free. This comes to the basic meaning of the word free and how it is being used in the message. When one is free, he cannot be forced to do anything, but in this case, he is being forced to do something, and that is being forced to be free.

Works Cited

Bateson, G., (1999) “Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia,” in Part III, Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. University of Chicago Press.

Watts, A. (1999). The Way of Zen. Vintage.

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