CHAOS AND POSTMODERN PSYCHOTHERAPY

CHAOS THEORY
IN
POSTMODERN PSYCHOTHERAPY

by
Richard Alan Miller, c1993

http://www.nwbotanicals.org/oak/newphysics/chaostheory.htm 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

I. CHAOS AND POSTMODERN PSYCHOTHERAPY

CHAOSOPHY: An Imaginal Perspective on the Nature of Reality, Consciousness, Experience, and Perception

ABSTRACT: Our notions about ourselves and the nature of the world (worldview) around us are filtered through our prejudices about “the way things work”. We never apprehend reality directly–only our world-simulation which is congealed from the convergence of our sensory input channels and the information-creating processes of chaotic neural activity. The brain filters and creates reality.

Brains are chaotic systems which create internal perceptual patterns that substitute directly for sensory stimuli. These stimuli are evoked potentials or evoked fields–standing waves in the brain. Imagination has the ability to induce real-time changes in the psychophysical being.

Imagination embodies the power of transformation. It may be accessed through obvious imagery, such as dreams, vision, and other sensory analogs, or viewed directly in symptoms, behavior patterns, emotional patterns, mental concepts, and spiritual beliefs.

The imaginal process is our primary experience and it permeates and conditions all facets of human life. During experiential psychotherapy, the sensory-motor cortex system is influenced through imagination. Psyche affects substance at the most fundamental level, through chaotic neural activity.

CHAOS CONSCIOUSNESS IN PSYCHOTHERAPY: An Experiential Approach and Application to Dreamwork, Creativity, and Healing

ABSTRACT: Experiential therapy sessions and mysticism demonstrate that as we journey deeper and deeper into the psyche we eventually encounter a state characterized either as “chaotic” or void of images. In a therapeutic context, chaos is experienced as a consciousness state–the ground state. This state is related to healing, dreams, and creativity. Shamanic approaches to healing involve co-consciousness states which lead to restructuring both physical and emotional-mental senses of self.

Dreams, creativity, and healing arise from this undifferentiated “chaotic consciousness.” Dreamhealing uses images as portals for consciousness journeys to facilitate transformations ranging from mood alteration to profound physiological changes. Imagery (virtual experience) affects the immune system, activating psychosomatic forces, such as the placebo effect. Chaos-oriented consciousness journeys suggest these states reflect complex phase space, fractal patterns, strange attractors, “the butterfly effect,” sensitivity, complex feedback loops, intermittency, and other general dynamical aspects suggested by chaos theory. More than an experiential process, this is a philosophy of treatment–“Chaosophy.”

CHAOS AS THE UNIVERSAL SOLVENT: Re-Creational Ego Death in Psychedelic Consciousness

ABSTRACT: There is a generic process in nature and consciousness which dissolves and regenerates all forms. The essence of this transformative, morphological process is chaotic–purposeful yet inherently unpredictable holistic repatterning. The Great Work of the art of alchemy is the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, a symbol of wholeness and integration. The liquid form of the Stone, called the Universal Solvent, dissolves all old forms like a rushing stream, and is the self-organizing matrix for the rebirth of new forms. It is thus a metaphor or model for the dynamic process of transformation, ego death and re-creation.

The alchemical operation SOLUTIO, called “the root of alchemy,” corresponds with the element water. It implies a flowing state of consciousness, “liquification” of consciousness, a return to the womb for rebirth, a baptism or healing immersion in the vast ocean of deep consciousness. It facilitates feedback via creative regression: de-structuring, or destratification by immersion in the flow of psychic imagery through identification with more and more primal forms or patterns–a psychedelic, expanded state. Chaos Theory provides a metaphorical language for describing the flowing dynamics of the chaotic process of psychological transformation.

CHAOS THEORY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL COMPLEXES: Jung’s Notion of the Complex as “Strange Attractor

That people should succumb to these eternal images is entirely normal, in fact it is what these images are for. They are meant to ATTRACT, to convince, to fascinate, and to overpower. They are created out of the primal stuff of revelation.

–C.G. Jung, COLLECTED WORKS, Vol. 9

If the charge of one (or more) of the “nodal points” becomes so powerful that it “magnetically” (acting as a nuclear cell”) ATTRACTS everything to itself and so confronts the ego with an alien entity…that has become autonomous–then we have a complex.

–Jolande Jacobi, COMPLEX, ARCHETYPE, AND SYMBOL

THE CREATIVE FLOW OF MEANING: An Introduction to Nonunitarian Philosophy;

ABSTRACT: In nonunitarian, discontinuous transformations, a system opens itself to novelty and potentiality by dissolving into a state of nonlocal communion with the whole and reforms unconditioned by the past. Nonunitary transformation is based in the dissolution of all forms and structures, and creative emergence of unconditioned creativity–metamorphosis. In this organic model of multiple universes and states of consciousness, everything is involved in a pattern of continuous rebirth, and everything is the manifestation of the underlying creative potential, transcending physical and spiritual boundaries.

II. POLYPHASIC CONSCIOUSNESS

THE UN-NAMED DREAM AND PARALLEL UNIVERSES: A Multistate Paradigm

ABSTRACT: In the Creative Consciousness Process (CCP), participants frequently encounter typical archetypal imagery at the threshold of chaotic consciousness. One of these reiterating images is that of grayness, black/whiteness, amorphousness. There are analogous reports from mystics and physicists about a fundamental cloudiness to the perception of ultimate realities. Relevant associations include parallel universes, the scientific notion of “observer effect”, and the mystical notion of “the witness” or observer self.

THE VARIETIES OF VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE: Virtual Realities Beyond the Dialogical Self

ABSTRACT: The basis of the human psyche seems to be a collective of selves–a multimind in a multiverse. Independent and autonomous, they relate with one another mostly unknown to the outer awareness. The extreme form of splintering seen in Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) simply reflects an extreme form of multiplicity with conflicting perspectives. The “multistate paradigm” of human nature extends toward a psychology and spirituality that is polytheistic, even pantheistic.

Dialogue is a form of imagery which creates and sustains a worldview through the means of imaginal conversations. Within the fabric of multiple centers or vortices within the psyche, an on-going dialogue emerges which ranges from selftalk (ego to ego), through “group” discussion (ego with subpersonalities), to spiritual dialogue (ego with transpersonal entities). Beyond the dialogical realm lies the unspeakable experience (untranslatable) of the Void or Clear Light, the realm of archetypal light and sound as pure consciousness.

The “Word” helps us create and define reality. Conversation as well as observation defines our reality. Dialogue of the self with its various conscious and unconscious forms creates a series of “virtual realities” which form the basis of self-simulation and world-simulation. These forms are limitless in number, far beyond the classic archetypes such as persona, anima/animus, etc, suggesting the notion of “radical pluralism.”

DREAM WAVE: Primal Imagery in the Creative Consciousness Process

ABSTRACT: Consciousness appears as the urge toward manifestation or embodiment and an equal but opposite urge toward formlessness. This interplay creates the imaginal flux of representational and nonrepresentational perception. These clashing currents in the stream of consciousness create “standing waves” of informational content which may be unfolded from their implicate to explicate state through direct participation in that stream.

The premise of the consciousness journey is that this “dream wave” may be followed backward/forward toward more primal representations into the nonrepresentational mode of perception. Certain typical, recurrent patterns occur at the further limits of these journeys. Particular phenomena are reiterated at the threshold of chaos–the threshold of dissolution–including amorphous clouds, black holes in psychic space, spirals and vortices, as well as dead and fertile voids.

THE UNBORN DREAM: Thriving on Chaos

ABSTRACT: If the implicate order is analogous to the frequency domain, as Bohm-Pribram have shown, the image/object domain unfolds from this invisible reality. That which is enfolded within the undivided whole is the “Bornless One,” the unborn dream of our infinite possibilities. Unity-in-diversity is the direct experiential/existential goal of the Creative Consciousness Process in its experimental form.

Complex dynamics is implicated in the energetic translation of the “waves of unborn nothingness” which constitute the unborn dream, the relentless flow of consciousness in search of embodiment and formlessness. Consciousness journeys are the “reading” or explication of the formless domain of Spirit. Following Nature to whatever abysses she leads, they reveal a way of thriving on chaos.

HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE PARADOX? Chaos Theory and Fuzzy Philosophy

ABSTRACT: The notion of paradox comes from a consciousness conditioned to think in terms of opposites, dualistic paradox. Self-referential paradox feeds back and annihilates itself. Such bivalence (binary logic: this or that; true or false; black or white) can be superceded by multivalent consciousness which perceives in terms of degrees. Multivalence more accurately reflects the complex dynamics of consciousness. As in the case of fractal generation, solutions are not found in terms of this or that, but in terms of degrees of fractional transformation, relationships. Fuzzy philosophy is based on acceptance of degrees of truth, the “grayness” of most propositions (truth values), the fractional solutions of fuzzy logic. Human consciousness is a self-referential system which embodies this principle of a connection between logic and chaos, in holistic (“whole brain”) awareness.

III. THE HOLOGRAPHIC PARADIGM

THE HOLOGRAPHIC PARADIGM AND CCP: Explication, Ego Death, and Emptiness;

ABSTRACT: David Bohm suggests psychological “atom-smashing” as a way of radically destructuring the ego, opening it to wider experience of the undivided whole. The holographic paradigm is one of reciprocal enfolding and unfolding of patterns of information (explication). The stream of images in CCP functions analogously to the unfolding of the stream of consciousness and the enfolding and de-structuring of the ego (ego death). Consciousness and matter share the same essence; their difference is one of degree of subtlety or density. “Emptiness” is an integral aspect of mind/matter. Chaos theory links all these elements as aspects of the archetypal healing process, which is facilitated by CCP.

FRACTAL THERAPY: Information Theory and the Vortex of Internal Structuring Process

ABSTRACT: Because of its very nature a chaotic system cannot be decomposed. If consciousness is pure information it is not limited to physical form; its patterning may emerge from chaotic dynamics operating at the quantum level, where the “no-thing” of pure information becomes a structured “some-thing,” through intentionality coupled with chaotic determinism (self-organized emergent order). The so-called “software of consciousness” is unlike the matter and energy of classical understanding, but exerts a measureable effect on the physical world, apparently through quantum chaos.

Fractal therapy allows us to penetrate deeply into the psyche–into the vortex of the internal structuring process–through progressively de-structuring patterns of organization. The undecomposable level of chaotic consciousness is experienced as the pure, unconditioned imprint of the whole, resulting in a new primal self image and sense of relationship to the greater whole which emerges through nonunitary transformation.

A HOLOGRAPHIC CONCEPT OF REALITY

ABSTRACT: The organization of any biological system is established by a complex electrodynamic field which is, in part, determined by its atomic physiochemical components and which, in part, determines the behavior and orientation of these components. The holographic model of reality emerging from this principle may provide a scientific explanation of psychoenergetic phenomena.

EMBRYONIC HOLOGRAPHY: An Application of the Holographic Concept of Reality;

[Presented at the Omniversal Symposium, California State College at Sonoma, Saturday, September 29, 1973. Reprinted in the journal Psychedelic Monographs and Essays, Vol. 6, 1993. 137-156. Boynton Beach, FL. Reprint requests should be addressed to Richard Miller, OAK, Inc., 1305 Vista Drive, Grants Pass, OR 97527]

SELF-ORGANIZATION IN BIOLOGICAL SYSTEMS: The Holistic Patterning Process of Chaos and Antichaos

ABSTRACT: Self-organization is an emergent property of systems and organisms, including human beings. Chaotic dynamics governs the emergence of this new order from apparent randomness. The deep coherence of the overall process implies hidden or missing information for holistic patterning within the apparent “noise” or randomness of chaotic processes.

IV. CHAOS CULTURE

RELATIVITY OF BODY AND SOUL

…we are not concerned here with a philosophical, much less a religious, concept of the soul, but with the psychological recognition of the existence of a semiconscious psychic complex, having partial autonomy of function, [anima].

C.G. Jung, TWO ESSAYS…

The soul loses its psychological vision in the abstract literalisms of the spirit as well as in the concrete literalisms of the body.

James Hillman, RE-VISIONING PSYCHOLOGY

Psychic and somatic symptoms express the soul’s painful wounds and obstructions. The rational mind is incapable of deciding what is best for the soul. The mind can discover what is needed only by listening to and reflecting upon the subtle movement of the soul as it expresses itself in bodily sensations, feelings, emotions, images, ideas, and dreams.

Robert M. Stein, “BODY AND PSYCHE”

VIRTUAL THERAPY: Speculations on a New Modality

ABSTRACT: The advent of virtual reality technology opens up a whole new dimension for therapy. Psychotherapist and client may enter an electronic simulation which allows them both to occupy a shared imaginal space. The parameters of the system and environment can be programmed to display specific archetypal imagery which is known to influence the deep psyche. The ability to interact with the system provides a means of intervention and transformation.

The therapist, as electronic shaman, either guides or follows the client’s process. He chooses from a repertoire of archetypal encounters those images which fit most closely, thus amplifying the “cybernaut’s” imagery experience. Distinctions of inner vs. outer become experientially moot. Therapeutic interventions, impossible in consensus reality, become readily available without standard ethical considerations.

The shaman’s flight into the netherworld to retrieve a “lost” soul becomes a literal reality experienced as a co-conscious journey. The discernment and non-directive attitude of the therapist insures that the client will not be traumatized. The perception of universal and personal metaphors is enhanced and amplified, rather than imposed. As in hypnosis, the client maintains the possibility of “escape” back into consensus reality, simply by closing their eyes.

THE GUIDE WAVE: Synchronized Chaos and Co-Consciousness

ABSTRACT: In a Bohm/de Broglie theory, the guide wave (or pilot wave) governs or patterns the whole quantum experiment–the observer as well as the observed. This nonlocal guiding principle also acts as a morphogenetic field for the structuring of atoms and cells. An analogous structuring of free flowing energy appears in the stream of consciousness.

The on-going stream of imagery manifests the process of co-evolution which is not distinct from our psychophysical being. Imagery and the entity it shapes are not separate. They are different dimensions of the same energy. The guide wave is something of a cosmic memory which holistically conditions the present moment through complex feedback and feedforward phenomena. The guide wave maintains specific forms as new moments unfold.

Research shows that synchronized chaos may be engineered through perturbation and operational amplification, creating flexibility among many different behaviors. Isolated chaotic systems cannot synchronize, but parts can synchronize through supporting subsystems, like a phase-locked loop. Thus, chaotic signals are generated which drive stable periodic behavior. The presence of chaos appears to be an advantage in controlling dynamic behavior, leading to flexibility and stability. Just as small disturbances in chaotic systems radically alter their behavior (“butterfly effect”), tiny adjustments can stabilize behavior.

V. INFORMATION THEORY

AN INFORMATION THEORY OF THE UNIVERSE AND NEURODYNAMICS: The Interface of Consciousness and Information Quanta

ABSTRACT: Information Theory has been employed to model dynamic processes ranging from the entire universe (Ed Fredkin, 1988) to human neurological functioning (Karl Pribram,1991). Pribram’s research on human perception has culminated in a theory of neurodynamics based on nonlocal cortical processing–holonomy. According to Pribram, “space-time and spectrum provide the dimensions within which information occurs.” The information theory of the universe models bits of information as fundamental, while neurodynamics conceives of quanta of information. Holonomy supercedes general systems theory and thermodynamics as models of brain/mind/consciousness.

ODE TO WHITE NOISE AND STRANGE LOOPS : The Concepts of Form and Intentionality in Information Theory

ABSTRACT: Physics deals with the energetic aspect of the world. Information theory deals with the communicational aspect, the message from the external world (universe) to the individual and his reactions. Information is a quantity whose value depends on its usability, what it adds to a representation–its originality, unforeseeability. The general study of information theory can be applied to perception in the human receptor.

The emergence of imagery from white noise–the figure/ground distinction of Gestalt–is one implication relevant to process-oriented therapy and certain philosophical considerations about the nature of chaos and order in reality. Wave fronts exhibit a fractal nature, including sound waves. Meaningful sound, such as music and speech lies in between total white noise and the monotone of indefinitely held pure notes

We tend to take the constant imaginal flux of the stream of consciousness for granted, rarely focusing our conscious awareness in that direction. But we can experientially “decode” the universal “message” it contains for us in terms of potential holistic repatterning. No universal message is really “transmitted” because it is a nonlocal quantum phenomenon of consciousness. There is no channel or receiver, but the classical ego interprets it that way–as information.

IMAGE PROCESSING: The Fractal Nature of Emergent Consciousness

ABSTRACT: Transformations can be effected within the autonomous stream of imagery, through imagery processing via experiential therapy. The essence of this transformative process is revealed in the fractal nature of imagery and symbols–i.e. their ability to encode, enfold, or compress the informational content of the whole. Strange attractors condition and govern the transformative process through the complexity of information in dynamic flow. Emergent consciousness is not an epiphenomenon of the brain. Rather it is the transformational process of non-manifest, undifferentiated consciousness emerging into manifestation.

THE SELF-AWARE UNIVERSE : A Synopsis of Amit Goswami’s Theory of Physics and Psychic Phenomena

SUMMARY: Amit Goswami, Ph.D. has proposed a theory of consciousness, rather than atoms, as the fundamental reality of the material world. Based in the philosophy of monistic idealism, he claims to obtain a consistent paradox-free interpretation of the new physics. He suggests a quantum mechanical, as well as classical nature for mind, which accounts for nonlocal.

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