The Language of Structuralism by Mark Hayward

This video explores the effects that structuralist thought has had on Western psychology, its dominance in cultural ideas about mental health and the different historical events that have contributed to this. It’s essentially a deconstruction of some of the ideas; a deconstruction that shows the foundations to be invented, not discovered, and exposes the limitations to our thinking when we accord these ideas truth status. Structuralism is an interesting and sometimes helpful theory and metaphor but only one of many possible ideas for understanding people and relationships.



Mark Hayward has worked as a Family Therapist in the UK for 30 years and retains a keen interest in unpacking ideas that can masquerade as truth or reality.

Published on 1 June 2018.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Fantastic awareness expanding talk. Thanks Mark

  2. Thank you for your fascinating presentation (it was my first time watching a Friday afternoon talk). I am hungry for more. Please let me know if you do a part 2 or update it.

  3. Thank you, this talk has been absolutely brilliant. It has given me insight and has helped me to understand structuralism and its affects.

  4. I trained with you a few years back and how you de-constructed the concept of “needs” always stayed with me. I came back here specifically to find it and am not disappointed. Thank you for the work you do.

  5. Very interesting how what is happening in society changes how we view ourselves and our reality. illustrates to me the importance of seeking to understand the client’s frame of reference and where that comes from as each person’s perception is their own.
    thanks for a great talk

  6. Just watched your video as part of my WK1|SEM2 homework for a Bachelor of Counselling. Brillantly thought provoking. Thank you 🙂

  7. Thank you Mark for explaining and clearly presenting some of the foundational values of narrative practices. Always appreciate learning from you!

  8. Mark, this talk was freeing to me. I don’t measure up with society’s norms and have been feeling like a loser. Now I am starting to see that as soon as I find my own truth, there is no need to adapt or live up to something. I am an ok person right now!!!

  9. Thank YOU Mark…this talk really resonated with me and the angst I’ve felt in performing social work duties throughout my career…it always felt just a little bit smug of me to suppose that I could understand, ‘help’, guide or problem-solve with clients. I also felt that the more direct the service work I did the more ability I had to be able to really have a glimpse of the other person’s reality and view…and how they coped with their realities. Wonder if this could be taught in social work, medical, therapy and nursing course work to remind us what the ‘helpers’ bring in their ‘tool kit’?

  10. Hi Mark

    Thanks for an interesting talk. Don’t you think we’d fall apart without structuralism?! I was intrigued by your reference to ‘onion theory’ whilst referencing the peeling of an orange. is this significant? I ask this, as the structural nature of onions and oranges is clearly quite different.


    1. Hi,
      Sorry for the slow reply – I’ve been away. Some communities have never embraced structuralism but seem to manage ok. But maybe some people think they’d fall apart without it? The references to onions and the peeling of an orange is meant to reflect a layer metaphor.

      1. Thank you for your helpful response Mark. I understand about the onion and the orange layer metaphor. So long as I don’t get them confused in cooking 😉

  11. Excellent & innovative thinking.

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