Along with livelihood, health, and prosperity, water is a singular focus for the people of San Lázaro, Sonora. When San Juan’s Day passes every June 25, San Lazareño rancher-farmers look heavenward and ask for rain to re-green the dry grasslands of their home. When the rains do not come, the ranchers complain bitterly—it is a matter of life and death for their cattle and hence of hunger or surplus for their families. On one particularly dry spring day, nearly a month before San Juan’s Day, a group of cattle wandered around the town plaza while I was talking to a member of the community. I commented on this, and he said: “Es un señal muy mal. Indica que no hay pasto en los potreros cercanos” (That’s a very bad sign. This means there is no grass in the nearest pastures). The heavily grazed rangeland had not recovered, nor had the riparian forest where cattle often congregated after the grasses disappeared. The Pacific frontal storms that water the desert in the cool season had failed for the fourth consecutive year. So unless the rains fell consistently and heavily during the remaining spring months, this looked to be a year of privation and desperation. If rains did not come in time to water the pastures, ranchers would be forced to sell underweight cattle to cattle buyers at cut-rate prices or to purchase expensive forage to feed them through the driest period. Either way, they would likely lose money.
Minuchin describes the family as a system striving for homoeostasis or balance amongst its constituent parts in the face of demands for change, for example the need for parents to behave differently towards their children as they grow up. The development of a dysfunction is seen as a product of the family striving to remain the same despite a need for change. For this reason families also resist therapeutic attempts to bring about change. This core concept is now referred to as homoeostatic tendencies within the system. This exercise gives participants an opportunity to see and experience the power of these homeo-static tendencies. They are usually surprised at how predictable the pattern becomes for them and has immediate effect on their perception of themselves as therapists.
Aim: Exploration of the homoeostatic tendencies of a family system.
1. Some group members can devise a role play family. This should be an impromptu family group, not a case known to the group or the teacher.
2. Someone from the group is asked to enact a journalist who is writing an article about the family as follows:
Displaying and manipulating dates and times seems simple at first
but gets more difficult depending on how diverse and complicated your
users are. Do your users span more than one time zone? Probably so,
unless you are building an intranet or a site with a very specific
geographical audience. Is your audience frightened away by timestamps
that look like 2002-07-20 14:56:34 EDT or do they need to be calmed
with familiar representations like Saturday July 20, 2000 (2:56 P.M.)?
Calculating the number of hours between today at 10 A.M. and today at 7
P.M. is pretty easy. How about between today at 3 A.M. and noon on the
first day of next month? Finding the difference between dates is
discussed in Recipes 3.5 and 3.6.
These calculations and manipulations are made even more hectic by
daylight saving (or summer) time (DST). Because of DST,
there are times that dont exist (in most of the United States, 2 A.M.
to 3 A.M. on a day in the spring) and times that exist twice (in most of
the United States, 1 A.M. to 2 A.M. on a day in the fall). Some of your
users may live in places that observe DST, some may not. Recipes 3.11
and 3.12 provide ways to work with time zones and DST.