In common computer lingo, an "I.P." or "I.P." address is a term used to describe your "internet protocol" address, so I am told. For anybody with a computer it identifies and pinpoints where you personally are within the world and on the web or internet. This quirky series of numbers basically identifies you and your location geographically on the globe.
Moreover, information that you send out or receive can be identified or traced back to that spot or that computer from where or to where the information was transmitted.
"I.P.'s" for counsellors or psychotherapist though have a totally different meaning but curiously, a metaphor for one can be seen for the other. I.P.'s are the "identified patient". Now, you're probably asking yourself: "What does that mean?" or even "Wow, that sounds a bit clinical and maybe even a bit scary!" -- Don't worry. It's not.
In every area of specialization, from computers to psychotherapy, there are always these terms or expression which can be terribly confusing until someone explains it, such as "internet protocol" address or IP. So, we know an IP can also be the "identified patient" -- but what exactly does that mean?
The identified patient is the so-called "one with the problem".
So, remember how I said that an "I.P." (internet protocol) could be like an analogy for an IP (identified patient)? Well, the I.P. address with a computer is kind of like an address on a house. It's where you're at. I.P (computer) addresses sit in a "web" or "network" or "family" of addresses in a geographic area.
So too (in some way) with IP (identified patient) within a family. The human IP is usually the poor, unfortunate individual within a network or family whom everyone identifies as the patient and who usually gets dragged (sometimes kicking and screaming) into counselling or therapy. Or, alternatively, the IP, or identified patient is the one within the family who, recognising that they have some dysfunction, voluntarily goes into therapy to resolve their distress. In the most basic terms, the identified patient is the so-called "one with the problem" or the one whom, everyone else within the family sees as either having all the problems or being the problem. Sometimes these people are called "the black sheep of the family."
However, it is not so simple as that.
It was very popular, but what was fascinating was the approach he used. His approach, which was not new, was the "Systems" or "Family Systems" view. Now here we could go back and make another reference to systems and "computer systems" since we had been talking about I.P. addresses and internet protocols, and such. And there is again also a parallel or analogy with "computer systems" and "family systems".
Families, too, are an independent web or network
I am talking about one of these:
|Hanging mobile of people|
So, clearly if you remove the keystone, then the entire structure collapses. It's just that for any family, EVERY member of the family is a keystone as they all play a role within the family structure.
When one system member goes, the family struggles to find a new balance.
Family dysfunction tends to get focussed or funnelled in or onto one member of the family
Effectively when one system member (of the family) goes, the whole family struggles to find a new balance, and a new equilibrium in the process. Clearly, Timothy Hutton is the "identified patient", although, also clearly, the mother, the father and the entire family is the "identified patient", however it is only Conrad (Hutton) who is seeing a psychiatrist. It is upon him whom all the emotions hang.
I'll stop here for now, but from what I've already talked about, it can be very easy indeed to start taking some or even all of the blame off of the IP and instead spread it around manure-like in the family "garden". This manifests more commonly as what is known in common parlance as a sh*t-fight!
I'll speak a little bit more about this and family dynamics and the IP in my next post entitled: The Blame Game.
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