Daughter: Mom, can I go out?
Mother: Sure, go enjoy yourself.
Don't worry about me sitting here alone all night.
Mother has just created a classic double bind, saying yes and no to her daughter at the same time. Most parents use such paradoxical commands occasionally because they are unable to resolve their conflicting feelings. That familiar behavior may seem harmless. But according to a branch of psychiatry known as family therapy, repeated double binding is ordinarily found in families that produce schizophrenics.
Unlike most psychiatrists, who believe that schizophrenia arises from a genetic defect...