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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Systems Theory

Systems theory is the study of systems at all levels including couples, families, schools, governments etc. Systems in this theory are self regulating and change according to feedback. There is always a push and give within the system to fit the circumstances. A systems theorist who is a psychologist who was seeing a client would not see the client only but the entire system that the client belongs to, generally the family. Further, the problem would not be the client, but the system would be viewed as the problem.

When looking at situations in our own lives we can generally see how we react to other people and based on what the other person does is how we react. In schools we often blame the kids, or the teachers or the parents but in truth all have play in the problem according to systems theory.

When we are creating our characters we need to keep in mind the different systems that those characters belong to. If the character moves something else will be affected by that move. It may be the antagonist countering the move made by the protagonist.


  1. nice...def good to incorporate the ripple effect that the characters actions have on different parts of thier lives...adds to the realism

  2. I know I get stuck with this. I don't always think about all of the consequences, good and bad, from a character's action. I like how Brian puts it with the ripple effect. You could have a lot of fun and even make it the butterfly effect. One action that changes the course of the world. The possibilities are endless, aren't they.

  3. Could you explore this idea further? Those of us who aren't psychology majors might not have heard of this system theory before. Give an example, maybe.

  4. The school system is one where there's a lot of interaction from many different groups, and also one anyone writing for MG/YA will have to deal with. So it was a good one to note! :)

  5. As a reader I have seen what you are talking about in books. I think Taracy Chevalier (I may have spelt is wrong) does this follow up brilliantly, or at least in the one book I read (the girl with the pearl earrings). That sold me t her as a writer. Nothing more irritating that finding yourself asking why did she say that or let it happen of it wasn't going to lead anywhere. There a a lot of writers who leave unfinished business unfortunately as a result of not following through on the cause and effect.

  6. I also see how people act differently in different systems. Such as, my daughter at school is very quiet. But in her home "system" she is the outgoing family clown. Completely different personality based on the system she is in.


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