Reaction for Chapter Two

Chapter two of Shelly Smith’s systems theory book brings intocontext the aspect of multiple perspectives. The highlights we aredrawn to by the blind men and the elephant story tries to illuminatethe fact that a system does have subsystems or parts that worktogether for the purpose of the whole. The fact that the basis oftruth in a particular argument entirely lies on the broadness ofone’s perspective on the subject matter portrays a system as anentity that can be explained or understood from any angle as long asthe part being described is a subsystem of the whole system.

I was also intrigued by the Chapter’s description of how all thedescriptions given for an elephant fitted that profile and that anelephant could be all of the things in the descriptions but each ofthose descriptions could not wholesomely be an equivalent of what anelephant is. This brought the aspect of perspectives into force, thatwe could look at a whole entity and describe it by its subsystems butthe entity could not entirely be its subsystems. Mapping this ontothe family and relationships board, we could argue that a familyconsists of various entities, characters, traditions and norms thatare unique to the family. Paradoxically, it can be argued that theaspect of family does not entirely refer to a specificcharacteristic, for instance, affection. The description of what thefamily phenomenon is would then rest entirely on perspective and theexperiences one has had that influence his understanding of whatfamily is.

The solution offered in the chapter is also a little confusingconcerning solving the multiple perspectives issue. It floats theargument that a shift in perspective in understanding the differencebetween “either/or” and “both/and” kinds of thinking, createsa merging point where we can apply to implement structure or supportto deal with either care or esteem [ CITATION She11 l 1033 ].

The perspective that a parent may try to discipline the kids andinsist on their upright competence and responsible behavior. He maychoose to execute this by being firm on the kids ensuring they dotheir assignments and punishing them when they fail to do so. Theother perspective looks to create a serene and homely environmentwhere the kids are not yelled at or forced to do their chores in thename of discipline.

It’s quite confusing that all these perspectives may right yet be acause of contradiction at the same time. I find it easier tounderstand one of the perspectives as right and avoid thecontradictory one yet as systems theory puts it multiple perspectivesneed not be dismissed but rather should be embraced and both partsevaluated as subsystems that work hand in hand to deliver thefunctional wholesomeness of the whole system.

In conclusion, chapter two of the book delivers a confusing conflictof perspectives while attempting to ascertain that the twoperspectives are all but a revelation to the functioning of onewholesome system and that both sides of the divide are ultimatelyright in the purpose they seek to satisfy. The idea of having morethan one perspectives, influenced by various factors, for instance,the environment, natural selection criteria and other definingfactors that support an idea, can all be right if they are treated assubsystems of a wholesome system.


Smith-Acuña, S. (2011). Systems Theory in Action: Applications to Individual, Couple, and Family Therapy. John Wiley &amp Sons Inc.

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