Some families develop unusual or extreme versions of reality and sustain them in the face of a torrent of ostensibly discrediting and disconfirming information. Although the psychological dynamics and functions of such shared constructions have been amply considered, little is known about the routine transactions through which these unusual versions of reality are created and maintained. This paper examines the “reality work” of a family that attributed high levels of performance and competence to the severely retarded youngest child. Observation of videotaped interaction between family members and the child revealed practices that presupposed, “documented,” and sustained the family's version of the child's competence. The practices are similar to those characteristic of interaction between adults and preverbal children. The implications of this similarity for the analysis of cases of folie à famille are discussed.
Family Process – Wiley
Published: Jun 1, 1985
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