What was the Bateson Project?

Introduction

The Bateson Project (1953-1963) was the name given to a ground-breaking collaboration organised by Gregory Bateson which was responsible for some of the most important papers and innovations in communication and psychotherapy in the 1950s and early 1960s. Its other members were Donald deAvila Jackson, Jay Haley, John Weakland, and Bill Fry.

Background

Perhaps their most famous and influential publication was Towards a Theory of Schizophrenia (1956), which introduced the concept of the Double Bind, and helped found Family Therapy.

One of the project’s first locations was the Menlo Park VA Hospital, which was chosen because of Bateson’s previous work there as an ethnologist. The initial research, which was funded by a Rockefeller grant, focused on “strange communication” and nonsensical language among the patients of the institution who were suffering from schizophrenia. The group studied this within the context of double bind communication in family dynamics.

Refer to Double Bind and Family Therapy.

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