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symptom shift/symptom formation

Within the perspective of family therapy, symptoms, whether physical, psychic, or behavioral, are seen as having an individual as well as a family-wide meaning and/or function. The more that a symptom serves a family-wide function, the greater is the likelihood that, in a static family structure, the disappearance or change in the symptoms of one family member will lead to symptom formation in other family members.


Definition extracted with permission from Simon, Fritz, et al, Family Process, Inc.: Language of Family Therapy: A Systemic Vocabulary and Source Book (Family Process Press Series)