Book Review: Runaway: Gregory Bateson, the Double Bind, and the Rise of Ecological Consciousness by Anthony Chaney

April 14, 2018

I really enjoyed this book and want to share my excitement with anyone who might be interested. I have a good familiarity with Gregory Bateson’s later work from the 1970’s and this book gave me the deep background from his prior years to fill in what I didn’t know and give me greater context for understanding what I did.

His work was a seminal part of my thinking as I developed my method of counseling/art psychotherapy and was lucky to have known a former student and friend of his, Janie Rhyne, with whom I collaborated for presentations at conferences of the American Art Therapy Association, and Rodney Donaldson, Bateson’s archivist, who  I knew though the American Society for Cybernetics. Any of you who heard my talks at conferences, took a class with me, or saw mw for therapy, might recall how frequently I mentioned Gregory Bateson.

The author provided a great deal of information about Bateson’s place in the changes that took place in science, psychotherapy, and even politics from the 50’s through the 60’s. The author, Anthony Chaney, showed how Bateson’s theory developed and held strong through the years and changing contexts.

I came away with a greater appreciation for Bateson, someone who I even greatly admired before. And I appreciated the authors attention to detail which, mostly, was not a drag on the flow of the reading experience. At a later point in the book Chaney writes that to go on into Bateson’s later years would double the size of the book, so he stopped where he did. I, for one, would love to see the sequel.

If any of you do go and read this, please return here to comment and let me know your experience or your discussion about Bateson.

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