Thebook, “CHANGE:Principles of Problem Formulation and Problem Resolution”,hasbeenwrittenby Paul Watzlawick, John H. Weakland, and Richard Fisch. The book isdivided into three parts part one deals with the issue ofpersistence and change, where theoretical and practical perspectivesare discussed. Part two is about problem formation this part coversareas such as when the solution becomes the problem, the terriblesimplifications, the utopia syndrome, and paradoxes. On the otherhand, part three of the book covers problem resolution. In this area,second-order change, the gentle art of reframing, the practice ofchange, exemplifications, and the wider horizon are discussed. Thebook presents the idea of how problems arise and how they becomeperpetuated in some circumstances and resolved in others. Generally,the book examines how common sense and logical conduct often fail,while illogical and unreasonable actions succeed in producing themuch desired change.

Inintroducing the concept of change, the authors point out that in theWestern world, philosophers of science agree that change is perceivedto be a pervasive and immediate aspect of people’s experience thatcould become the subject of thought only subsequent to the earlyGreek philosophers had been capable of conceptualizing theantithetical concept of persistence or invariance. Until then, therewas nothing that change could be conceptually contrasted with. Fromthe authors’ task at the Mental Research Institute in Palo Alto,they were used to seeing things in the present instead of past. Also,they had considerable experience with the innovative and startlingtechniques of Milton Erickson, who obtained results in the mostcounter intuitive way. Suffusing all their approaches and techniqueswas communication and change (Watzlawicket al., 2011).

Theauthors have the opinion that any conduct in the presence of anotherindividual cannot avoid being a communication of a person’s ownperception of the nature of the person’s relationship with thatindividual and how it can fail to influence the person. This can beseen to be true because the behavior of one person can be consideredto influence another person especially if the person observes theactual behavior of the other person. Where a close relationshipexists amid two parties, it is likely that the behavior of one partymay influence the behavior of the other party. Here, the concept ofchange can be perceived to emerge from one party following theactions of another party.

Accordingto the authors, another crucial process of understanding changeentails the theory of logical types, which explains how words used indescribing a member of a class are used in describing the classitself that exists at a higher level or logical type. A change withina system or class where the system remains unchanged can beconsidered to be a first order change. However, the authors do notconcentrate on this change, but focus on a second order change. Thissecond order change is considered as a change that makes adifference.

Theauthors have also discussed the nine dots problem. According to them,almost everyone that attempts to solve the problem introduces part ofhis problem, which entails solving an assumption that makes having asolution impossible (Watzlawicket al., 2011).The primary assumption is that the dots forms a square and thesolution should be found within the square this constitutes aself-imposed condition that the instructions do not contain. Thefailure to obtain a solution does not lie in the impossibility, butin the attempted solution. Because of the created problem, it doesnot matter the combination of lines one tries to use, one will alwaysfinish by having at least one unconnected dot. This means that onewill usually run through the first-order change possibilities withinthe square without obtaining a solution for the task. However, thesolution to the nine dot problem entails a second-order change, whichis realized by leaving the field.

Thenine-dot problem can be applied to people’s personal life. Inpeople’s lives, the problem remains unsolved because of a similarreason people have adopted and imposed conditions which are notcontained in the original initial instructions. Besides, people donot find a way out of the problem as long as they remain within theirself-imposed limits. People are not capable of seeing their eyesexcept in a mirror since they are part of their seeing apparatus.Similarly, people are not capable of seeing their problems because itis part of the way they see the world. Therefore, a counselor thatexists outside the people’s self-imposed limits may be in aposition to see the problems of the people in totality, which impliesthat counselors can give suggestions that people have neverconsidered within their problem. Hence, the concept of the nine-dotproblem can be used in explaining the problems that people face inlife without getting a solution.

Anexample of such a situation in life entails the problems encounteredin marriage. The problems in a marriage therapy in most cases have todo with insurmountable difficulty of adjusting the quidpro quoon which the association was initially based upon. In case ofconflict arising, partners try to solve the conflict within theframework of the contract, which makes them caught in the nine-dotproblem that is of their own making. In such a scenario, it would benecessary to change the contract itself for a second order change tobe realized rather than using the framework to resolve the conflict.This is because the problem itself emanates from the contract.

Fromthe authors’ perspective, people usually indicate they want change,but what they want is for things to remain the same as their problembecomes invisibly lifted far from them without using any effort ontheir part. Besides, people may want change, but the change turns outto be so scary to them such that they reject any change on their waywith no reason. As the authors point out, it is important forindividuals to allow change and not be like oyster, which may dieresisting change. The authors assert that oyster usually hasexceedingly strong muscles, which prevent it from being opened if itdoes not want nevertheless, when an oyster shucker opens an oyster,its muscle is severed making the oyster to die (Watzlawicket al., 2011).

Inreading the book, what was most appealing was the discussion of thenine-dot problem. Through reading the book, it is possible tounderstand why people experience the problems that they usually havein life. From the book, it was learnt that people do not come out oftheir problems or do not realize second-order change because theytend to have self-imposed assumptions that limit their ability toobtain solutions. From the perspectives of the authors, it isimportant for individuals to think outside the box in order torealize a second-order change or in order to obtain a solution forthe problems he/she has in life. Besides, another thing that wasappealing from the book was the suggestions given by authorsregarding how people can go about paradoxical task in willingaccepting change. This is exceedingly critical in helping individualsto be change leaders instead of resisting change.

Despitethe appeal that the book has, it also emerged as being problematic.One of the ways that the book seemed problematic entails the issue ofyouths preserving culture. The authors point out that the youths oftoday can be considered rotten to the core, evil, lazy, and godless(Watzlawicket al., 2011).Because of this, the authors consider the youths as not being capableof preserving the culture. This is problematic because it does notsupport the idea that the youths can change their conduct and becapable of preserving the culture. As people advocating forsecond-order change, the authors are supposed to have a positiveattitude towards the preservation of culture by youths. An aspectthat can be realized through the second-order change and the authorsshould see it in this perspective. Besides, the book emerges as beingproblematic since the authors point out that, when one is faced withlife problems, choosing a counselor as a close friend cannot makeproblems ease. People usually expect to get better by seekingassistance of a counselor. In addition, the authors indicate that theproblem is the solution for instance, the case of social evils suchas pornography. However, this may be a concern in the case ofchildren.


Watzlawick,P., Weakland, J. H., &amp Fisch, R. (2011). :Principles of problem formulation and problem resolution.New York: W.W. Norton &amp Co.