Hannes Richter

Paul Watzlawick (1921-2007)

Hannes Richter

Austrian-born psychologist and philosopher Paul Watzlawick died at age 85 in his home in Palo Alto.

Watzlawick, who was born on July 25, 1921 in Villach, southern Austria, did major theoretical research in the fields of communications theory and radical constructivism. He also conducted research in the fields of psychotherapy and family therapy.

Watzlawick’s research dealt with highly complex and abstract phenomena, for example, the rules governing communication. The five basic axioms of communication defined by Watzlawick are regarded as groundbreaking in communication theory. He postulated that it was impossible for a person not to communicate.

Watzlawick, who studied in Venice and Zurich, came to the U.S. in 1960 after teaching at the University of El Salvador. From 1967 onwards he taught psychology at Stanford University and at the Mental Research Institute.

He was author of 18 books (in 85 language editions) and more than 150 book articles and book chapters. Some of his more important publications include Invented Reality: How Do We Know What We Know? (Contributions to Constructivism); Pragmatics of Human Communication; The Situation is Hopeless, but not Serious; Ultra-Solutions: How to Fail Most Successfully; How Real is Real?