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(l) Dynamic self-regulation. (2) The condition of a system when it is able to maintain its essential variables within limits acceptable to its own structure in the face of unexpected disturbances. The concept was formulated by W.B. Cannon in 1929-32.
A process of interaction or mechanism which balances various influences and effects such that a stable state or a stable behavior is maintained. Often that stable state or that stable behavior is essential to assume structural stability (see morphostasis) of a SYSTEM. E.g., the size of the pupil of the human eye is negatively correlated with the intensity of light entering the retina thus keeping the amount of light within the limits of optimal processing of visual information. Too much light will destroy the light sensitive cones of the retina. The blood sugar content and many other chemical quantities are similarly balanced within the human body (see Cannon's Wisdom of the Body). Stable homeostatic states or behaviors need not have this purposive interpretation, however. The "balance of power" idea in international politics denotes a homeostatic mechanism whose outcome presumably neither country desires by itself. In families, homeostasis may become pathological (see pathology) when family members no longer prefer that state yet cannot escape it as a consequence of the way they interact with one another (e.g., double bind). During family therapy, a non-pathological homeostasis may be acquired after therapist-induced morphogenesis or through self-organization. Homeostasis concerns states or behaviors whereas morphogenesis concerns structure and organization. (Krippendorff)
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