Anything worth knowing can't be taught, it must be experienced.
Carl Whitaker in Connell 1996
“"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”
Alice in Wonderland, 1951
This site is intended to be a source for Carl Whitaker's bibliography and for his publicly released original works. These works are as relevant today as they were in the days when family systems was being birthed. The crucial and central relevancy of relationship is as important in families as it is in economics or in the natural ecosystem. The way into a problem is through problems in relationship and the way out of a problem is through relationships. When we speak of relationships in complex systems, the patterns are swirled, chaotic, ambiguous, full of paradox and change in the dimension of time. Linear mechanistic approaches to complex systems ultimately do more to muck up the systems health than to produce any long lasting healing and growth. Carl was not a man of theoretical protocol or intellectual rationalizations. The way he worked with families was not a technique, but a way of thinking, a way of being with another that resulted in growth and healing. Carl believed that the person of the therapist was essential in this relationship. He was in touch with symbolic meaning which is a vital undercurrent of human experience and the substance binding relationships. Lewis Carroll's Alice had various symbolic experiences which induced shifts in the way she perceived and acted on various encounters in life. Carl had a unique sense of his own symbolic experience and was an ingenious artist at inviting the family into a parallel symbolic experience of themselves. When the family allowed themselves to enter this 'rabbit hole', then they had begun a process of knowing themselves and their world in a different way. This created what we call second order change, where lasting change in a system happens.