The Double Bind

This dividedness, this potential confusion over the state in which the subject finds itself, is, I believe, the beginning of an opposition between the ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ realms of the subject, which laid the foundation for a phenomenon recognized by modern researchers to be instrumental in producing the disconnected bodily state known as schizophrenia: the double bind.

A double bind is a situation in which a person is simultaneously subjected to two commands or demands, each unavoidable, yet each contradicting the other or precluding its fulfillment. Added to that, the double bind makes it impossible to perceive that contradiction and thus either to adopt a critical, or some other metacommunicative stance in relation to it-‘metacommunicative’ in the sense of reacting to the nature of the demands made, not to their contradictory ‘contents’ or ‘messages’ [1]

  1. Klaus Theweleit, Male Fantasies: Women, Floods, Bodies, History, p. 329, pub. A.D. 1987 []

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