Definition extracted with permission from Simon, Fritz, et al, Family Process, Inc.:[amazon 0961551909 inline]
The interactional patterns of a nuclear family often prove to have been prefigured and established in the parents' families of origin. Emotional and social disorders can thus be seen as the expression of problems that have been developed and passed on over the course of many generations. A multigenerational perspective does not, for example, view the mother of a schizophrenic child as responsible for the child's schizophrenia; the mother is merely one "player" in a long line of "players" in other generations. Specific rules and values of the family system have been established during the course of the family coevolution. In certain situations, the rules and values can result in conflict, tension, and strain, which give rise to symptoms. With this in mind, it often makes sense to include the grandparents in therapy, either for diagnostic reasons or to change the relational patterns of the family.