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The family is perhaps the most important single institution in everyone’s life. What happens in such an intense group? How does it develop over time? What happens when stress is placed upon it, whether generated from inside or outside the family? Originally published in 1975, when the late Tony Manocchio was one of the leading practitioners of family therapy in Britain and Scandinavia, this title, written with his colleague William Petitt, is a lively study of communication within families, revealing the universal problems common to all.

The authors demonstrate and illuminate the application of communication principles by analysing healthy and ‘unhealthy’ family systems in six major plays – The Winslow Boy, Riders to the Sea, Hamlet, A Long Day’s Journey into Night, Death of a Salesman and A Delicate Balance. As part of this analysis they examine the difficulties family members have in allowing for differences, in sharing secrets and the ease with which a whole family can scapegoat a single member. They give a number of short case histories and examples from other plays which further illustrate the importance of communicating clearly.

The book will still be of value to all those interested in the uses of family therapy, and also to students of literature for the human insight it offers into the texts discussed.

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