Behind the One-Way Mirror


Behind the One-Way Mirror

An Interview with Jay Haley

By Rich Simon

September/October 1982


There is a story that Cloe Madanes likes to tell trainees at the Family Therapy Institute of D.C. to illustrate the complexities of human communication. The story is about her husband, Jay Haley. Every morning he drives their youngest daughter. Magali, to school, and every morning as they are going out the door, Madanes says, "Magali, take your jacket." The child answers that it is not cold, her mother insists that it is, and the discussion prolongs the moment of separation. Haley patiently waits at the door until he finally ends the bantering between mother and daughter. Winking at Magali, he says, "Your mother is cold today, you'd better take that jacket." Magali smiles back and dragging her jacket behind her offers her cheek for her mother to kiss as she goes out the door,

With a sense of humor tested by thousands of hours of watching other families enact their rituals, Haley manages to side simultaneously with his wife and his daughter and do it in a spirit of playfulness that appeals to both. If Haley has been less successful in appealing to all the factions in the "family of family therapists" (an expression he abhors), it is not for want of a sense of humor. Rather, for much of his career, Haley has seemed far more intent on stirring things up than gaining allies. For more than 25 years, he has been family therapy's foremost provocateur, returning again and again—sometimes with delicious irony, sometimes with biting sarcasm, always with great lucidity—to one…

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