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Circular Causality

The wife nags, the man goes to the pub. Why does the wife nag? Because the man goes to the pub! Why does the man go to the pub? Because the wife nags! This is circular causality. Everyone defines their behaviour as a reaction to the behaviour of others. This leads to very stable conditions. Everyone suffers, but, nevertheless, nothing changes, because one believes that this is only possible when the other party changes. However, one does not believe this will happen, and one does not notice how one contributes to the way the other behaves. If the man stayed at home, would the wife then stop nagging him? Quite the opposite, she will, as he is now finally available, be particularly motivated in enlightening him about her wishes for change! If the wife stops nagging, will the man then stay at home? Not at all, he will interpret this as her merely taking a breath and will wait tensely the entire time for it to start again. Helping to interrupt such circular processes belongs to the standard repertoire of professional counsellors. Then new things can happen. This requires new decisions about how one organises one’s inner life and perception. In this way a beginning is made, but no more. This is why one may possibly do too little when effectively disturbing dysfunctional resonance and reaction patterns, but then assumes that everything new would, from then on, be automatically and efficiently self-regulated. For this, destructive self-representations are usually too powerful.

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