Walsh F. (editor) NORMAL FAMILY PROCESSES New York: The Guilford Press, 1982, 486 pp., $25.00.
What a pleasure it is to read a book about families in which there is no evidence of polemics or politics, no straw man, no idiotic individual therapist, and no bias about which theoretical framework one should use when viewing a family. This book represents an excellent attempt to do something which is important to try to accomplish; that is, to separate normal from abnormal family processes. This is different from recognizing clearly functional or dysfunctional modes which would interest the clinician. The authors do explode some important myths along the way, however, particularly warning against those myths that tend to render clinical interventions impotent.
The issue of what constitutes "normality" and the various ways in which it might be viewed is carefully explained. Each chapter is written with great care and the high quality, lack of redundancy and easy flow are quite remarkable for a multi-authored text. The thrust of this volume is open and explorative. It recognizes the value of approaching family assessment through a system of grids from the examination of various perspectives emanating from different theoretical positions. Perhaps we may gain a more complete understanding of family operations when we can better integrate the different ways in which observable phenomena can be described.
Dr. Walsh sets the tone in the opening chapter. She examines several family models and notes "they are remarkably free in general from any major contradictions or inconsistencies." In keeping with this notion, the book goes into greater depth with each model, looking at both longitudinal and cross-sectional research data, as well as the models' social and cultural contexts. Clinical data and pathologic interaction are frequently referred to and the implications of the discovery of "normal" modes are constantly related to in their clinical relevance. This volume will be an important addition to the libraries of teachers, students, researchers and clinicians.