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Thursday, February 23, 2012

More On Systems Theory

Per Wordsmiths request i will be going into more detail on systems theory. If there is anything that anyone else would like further clarification on please ask. Sometimes I do not explain as thoroughly as I should :)

When we are looking at systems we consider them to be in homeostasis. Meaning that the system is stable and constant. When we look at systems of people this homeostasis is maintained by the tug and pull of the individuals in the system. As one person becomes rebellious another person becomes less rebellious. This is seen in families and is studied more in family system psychology. So when we look at small systems we will see people playing different roles. Another example of this is when we look at group therapy there are 8 roles that can be identified within the group. Different people take on these roles and generally stick with those roles throughout the treatment. Not all roles are taken on in every group, but they can generally be observed. 1. The follower (goes along with whatever...) 2. Gatekeeper (encourages remarks from others) 3. Scapegoat (gets blamed by everyone) 4. Storyteller (always talking within the group monopolizes the time) 5. Interrogator (always asking questions and interrogating other members) 6. Energizer (the enthusiast in the group) 7. Harmonizer (makes sure that everyone is doing ok and feeling ok) 8. Isolates (does not talk stays out of the group). These different roles can be seen in most systems and serve different purposes, some positive, some negative.

Some good examples can be seen throughout the books we read and the movies we watch. We will look at Lord of the Rings; Follower (Samwise Gamgee), Gatekeeper (Gandalf ), Scapegoat (Gollum, Wormtongue), Storyteller (Pippin), Interrogator (Boromir ??), Energizer (this could also be Pippin but Merry would also fall into this category), Harmonizer (Frodo), Isolates (Gollum). These are just off the top of my head and could be wrong. What are some examples that you see.

We will be looking at this more tomorrow.


  1. Great examples--it was interesting to see the roles attached to known characters.

  2. I hate to be a bother, but could you please link to my blog ( when you mention my name? That way people know where to find me.

    This post really helped to clarify what you meant. I can definitely understand what you said about how when one person takes on more of X role, another person relinquishes said role to keep the balance, because I see that in my relationships all the time. I thought I was just crazy, though. ^_^ Thanks!

  3. I was thinking Wheel of Time. I know some of these may be off depending on which book you're in but it really made me think about the characters.

    1. The follower (Rand) 2. Gatekeeper (Perrin) 3. Scapegoat (Mat) 4. Storyteller (Egwaine) 5. Interrogator (Nyneave) 6. Energizer (Elayne) 7. Harmonizer (Min) 8. Isolate (Lan)

  4. This is a really useful way to think about characters. I think too often writers define their characters ahead of time and then throw them at each other, instead of through this group-down systems approach. It makes a lot of sense in real life and I can see how it makes for more interesting (and realistic) character dynamics.



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