The influence of the Mental Research Institute: A conversation with Wendel Ray and John Miller†
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy
School of Arts and Humanities
The renowned Mental Research Institute (MRI) is recognised as one of the most famous institutions where innovative ideas in interactional thinking, brief psychotherapy, family therapy, systems theory, and communication theory originated. The influential paper, ‘Toward a theory of schizophrenia,’ written by the pioneers of the MRI, launched family therapy as a discipline. Watzlawick, a key early figure at MRI, believed that 80% of what we communicate is in analogical nonverbal communication. Regarding communication/interactional theory, Watzlawick highlighted three core ideas of avoiding negation, understanding indicative and injunctive language, and using it to speak in the client's language. The double bind hypothesis articulated by Bateson and colleagues is seen as a continuum of human experience of communication, a pattern of learned helplessness.