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ERIC Number: ED414055
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1996-Nov
Pages: 14
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Nonlinear Perspectives on Family Process: Chaos and Catastrophe Theories.
Ward, Margaret; Koopmans, Matthijs
This paper explores the principal features of nonlinear dynamical systems and applies the theory to parents' acceptance of a child adopted at an older age. Although family systems theories tend to be weak in addressing family change, chaos theory and catastrophe theory allow consideration of sudden, discontinuous change. If stable, the family may withstand environmental and interaction variations without major system changes. If unstable, there may be a qualitative transformation in family interaction. Attractors are rituals, ideals, and behaviors which provide continuity and stability. Chaotic family behavior is seen in irregular movement among competing attractors without settling on one of them. Instability is present in the early stages following adoptive placement of an older child, as the family and child try to determine if the adoption is going to work. If instability reaches a threshold, the system is confronted with at least two possible steady states different from the first. There may be a sudden or gradual behavior change, or a sudden shift called a catastrophe. A catastrophe model of adoption success and failure involves the combination of unfulfilled parental expectations and the lack of a sense of parental entitlement to produce a catastrophe. If adoption is not clearly fulfilling, high entitlement levels force a choice between accepting and rejecting the child. Catastrophe theory predicts that near the threshold, a small change in fulfillment level may result in a large change in acceptance. When families are in an unstable state, they are sensitive to intervention. (Contains 22 references.) (KB)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A