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Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution
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Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  520 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Three prominent American therapists detail their theories and strategies for promoting human change and dealing with related psychological problems.
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published April 17th 1974 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 1974)
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Average rating 4.28  · 
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Olivier Goetgeluck
Aug 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A solution may itself be the problem.

Change is not only possible, but already seething within the problem situation.

Common-sense solutions are the most self-defeating and sometimes even the most destructive ones.

Two questions:
How does this undesirable situation persist?
What is required to change it?

Two types of change:
One that occurs within a given system which itself remains unchanged (first-order change); and one whose occurence changes the system itself (second-order change).

Change in connect
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
While entrenched in applications and theories of psychology primarily, this book is applicable to any situation or problem that any person experiences and wishes to change. The straightforward title indicates what you're going to get--a very honest exploration of change, how people go about it, how they fail along the way, and what must be done to reframe their problems and alter their thinking in order to achieve the desired change. It takes a lot of real-life examples (though many are outdated ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Focus on "what" not "why"
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Life has its difficulties--aches and pains, disagreements and disputes, disappointments and discomforts. So whether or not our lives are satisfying is often a matter of whether we manage life's difficulties constructively--or whether we mismanage these difficulties and make them worse.

This is the starting-point of the little book by psychologists Paul Watzlawick, John H. Weakland, and Richard Fisch. The book basically divides into three parts: (1) Describing ways life's difficulties are sometim
Irena Spivak
Jan 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book discusses the questions of persistence and change the actions of humans, the book explain how created problems and conflicts in human life and how to prevent them in advance. Shows how often the solutions that we provide to problems become problems themselves, and how to make real changes.
Many persons and organizations begin with changes. And changes do not succeed - the book can assist in understanding what causes this.
Book describes how to change your way of thinking. In a remarkabl
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I found this book to have some interesting concepts and perspectives. It seemed like too much of it dwelled in the theoretical, however. I've typed up the excerpts I could most relate too, mostly because they closely parallel long-term dynamics in my family in which we never recognized or were able to move beyond the "first-order change".

I think the book is correct and unique in its assertion that sometimes things can only be effectively changed via getting out of the expected reactions or solu
Jef Sneider
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
It changed my perception of the world. it might change yours.
Stevie  Rooster Scribe
Oct 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
My brain hurts, but it's a good thing.
Bojan Lunishion
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
An insightful, sometimes funny though a little dated read.

The authors suggest using paradoxes to bring about change in your life, especially when you’re stuck in an unwanted pattern or vicious cycle. (They call it 'a game without end')

To ground this tactic, they make use of mathematical type theory. Though interesting, I think this adds needless complexity. Just an explanation of the difference between object-level and meta-level would have been enough, in my modest opinion.
The gist is, that by
Claire Pfeifer
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book had some very interesting and thought provoking ideas. I found merit and agree with many of the key themes of the book. However, the writing was cyclical and boastful in nature, i.e. introducing concepts and information into the text that was merely there for the purpose of showing how much information the author knew, rather than explaining a key point of the book. There were so many instances where this style of writing, on top of the already dense nature of the material, made it har ...more
Nick Argiriou
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great book and if you want to read about this subject its a sine-qua-non. Be warned though, its the theoretical, scientific background, I will be searching more titles on this subject, so I'm open for suggestions! I'm trying to avoid the classical how-to books though.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I've read this before but did not resonate with me like the first time I read this.The last part of the book is where all the gold is.I should of skipped the first part.
Xueqi Zhao
Oct 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting theory without solid verification
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent contents but rather difficult to read - the language is a bit convoluted. Even then, great insights about therapy and society
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic, 2020
A brief guide to thinking about problems in a psychologically sound way.

Well written and to-the-point.

A (Inaccurate) Summary:
1. You're probably trying to solve the solution, not the problem
2. Problems that get solved often do so in mysterious ways, due to this and many other reasons, understanding the **why** of the problem is probably not going to be as productive as you think it is. Fix the what.
3. Make outcome expectations lists, work towards them. They're going to be utopian, so de-utopia
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A refresing perspective on how problems accure and how to bring about change with verry concrete descriptions. Eye-opening.
Henry Hamer
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Excellent book. My third time thru it. First time was in the 1980's.

I understand 1st and 2nd order change so much better now than I did previously.

In only about 160 pages, the authors covered a lot of ground. The book is as relevant today as when written. The many examples are clear too.

My remaining comments are in regard to the last chapter, The Wider View.

The authors were spot on about the shortcomings of using only 1st order changes. In addition to individual and smaller group uses, just
Uriel Vidal
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It a different view of system thinking!!

it's a great view because if you already kwnow something about system thinking this book open your mind to analysis systems in a different way, you recive adivice of how begin to analyze systems and how to get information from takeholders. But if you do not know nothing about systems theory, it is a excelent book about psychologist and it gives a fantastic introducction to system thinking.

I definitely use the book adivices in my career and in my personal
Stuart Reid
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very readable and intuitively appealing approach to change. Suggests that change at the level of the problem is unlikely to be effective in human issues - we need to take a step up and see the problem at a different level: second-order change rather than third order change. Nice examples where doing the opposite of what 'common sense' tells us to do can be the right choice.
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Proposes ingenious methods of diffusing problems and inciting change, especially when all other methods attempted have failed. Looks primarily at the concept of first-order change (more of the same) as opposed to second-order change (shifting to a new frame).
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Probably one of my favorite books in grad school. Excellent examples and novel approaches to situations that might occur in systems. Written clearly and with humor. First chapter is the driest, so hang in there.
Mar 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
One of two books that I remember changing my life as a college student.
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cognitive-aware
Great classic exploring the blind spot living in denial in the human psyche and presented with humor and effective solutions in psycho therapy. Excellent book.
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
an important part of how i have run my therapy and career.
Aug 25, 2012 added it
This book is fantastic . It gave me a whole new perspective on how to effect change.
Bill Baer
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
a psychological approach to change through paradox and word intreperation
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book on Change
Jan 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thinking
Very intersting book which can help you to get out of the logic lock of many problems.
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A book that changed my life.
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dense at times, especially in the beginning, but overall good concepts and thoroughly explained.
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Was an Austrian-American psychologist and philosopher. A theoretician in communication theory and radical constructivism, he has commented in the fields of family therapy and general psychotherapy. He was one of the most influential figures at the Mental Research Institute and lived and worked in Palo Alto, California, until his death at the age of 85

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