Towards More Balanced Inquiry and Response in Psychological Health

Victoria, May 3, 2002

The following is directed to those suffering from 'mental illness' and those in the 'healing professions' who may have interest in helping to develop and to participate in a new 'healing' approach that combines the wisdom of native 'healing' traditions with new scientific findings on the fundamentals of living systems that have not yet been assimilated into mainstream psychiatry.   This new approach orients to the cultivating and sustaining of psychological health through a coordinated program of self-directed 'healing circle' group therapy and neurofeedback

( N.B. -'Neurofeedback' is training that enables one to get in touch with sub-aware neural responses that one has involuntarily 'conditioned' to 'hold on to' anxious, depressive or obsessive thoughts, and to 'untrain' them so that they will 'let go' and stop 'locking-themselves-in'. Neurofeedback equipment presents the patient's own neural waves to them on a computer screen in front of them and facilitates the patient's interacting with their own thought waves using audio-visual signalling, often in the form of playing games like pacman etc. where certain types of mind-movements (thought-wave patterns) are 'reflected back' to the patient in terms of the audio-visual responses of the neurofeedback equipment.  This type of interaction with one's own thought waves allows interaction with thought flows that have developed 'sub-awarely' and that are not accessible to normal past, present and future 'event' based thinking.)


Many of us who have suffered mildly or severely from 'psychological problems' have wondered why the medical system emphasizes 'what is wrong with the patient' and often pays little attention to what is wrong with the environment the patient is living in?   In extreme cases, because the 'problem' is seen to be something wrong inside of the person rather than emerging from the sufferer's sensitivity to pathology-inducing environments, the sufferer may have been forcibly incarcerated and given dangerous medications against their will.  More commonly, those who are exposed to anxiety, depression, manic-depressive mood swings, psychotic episodes and hallucinations are 'diagnosed' as having a certain type of 'defective functioning' in their genetic or biochemical systems make-up and are prescribed medications to 'stabilize' their 'defective' subsystems, often for the long term.

But why is the pathology-inducing influence of the enveloping social dynamic not included in the problem inquiry since most people would agree that it is 'pretty crazy'? there any compelling reason why NOT to model mental illness in terms of sensitive people who are destabilized by pathology-inducing influences in their immersing environment?

The basis for this proposal for a new healing approach centers on recent findings that science has had a misguided belief in 'determinism' [1]; i.e. in this case, a belief that the inner genetic and biochemical makeup of the individual are what is 'determining' the person's pathological behavior.   This 'deterministic assumption' that permeates the discipline of psychiatry and other disciplines in our western system of education has been established as 'erroneous', and the replacement model includes the 'principle of relativity' wherein the behavior of the individual is co-determined by the enveloping social dynamic; i.e. there is an innate interdependency between the behavior of the individual (be it electron, planet or human) and the enveloping 'community' behavior.  One can envisage this in terms of 'friendly' driving on a crowded freeway where one 'lets go' of one's self-centered sense of driving behavior and puts one's motions in the service of balancing out the shape of the enveloping space so that it will sustain continuing movement for oneself and others.  Our sub-aware neural responses operate in a similar manner; i.e. when we go from a hot room to a cold outdoors, we do not have to awarely signal our internal systems to 'turn up the furnace', ... our neural systems are trained to ensure the sustaining of a dynamical equilibrium with the enveloping thermal dynamics.   The same is true in our respiratory faculty when we travel from oxygen-rich sea level elevations to oxygen-poor mountain elevations, ... the neural response that increases the depth and frequency of respiration to ensure balance is initially sub-aware, although we may become aware of it when our systems are having difficulty in sustaining the balance (e.g. we may start gasping for oxygen when we reach altitudes of ten thousand feet or more).   Nevertheless, within a permissible 'operating range'; i.e. if we move from Acapulco (sea-level) to Mexico city (ten thousand feet), our sub-aware neural responses will 'retrain' so that our heart and respiratory rates are sustaining the needed inner-outer dynamical equilibria.

Philosophers of science such as François Lurçat, physicist and professor emeritus in physics at the University of Paris [1], reckon that it will take many years yet before the erroneous (over-simplified) notion of 'determinism' and 'cause-and-effect' that permeates our educational system and our science-underpinned professional disciplines will be subsumed by the findings of 20th century science.  The discoveries of 'relativity', 'chaos' and 'complexity' and 'quantum mechanics' are together like a revisiting of the Copernican revolution or the discovery of microbes (to which there was widespread resistance and delay in accepting in the medical profession [2]) and there will likely be a significant lag before even the most humanist of scientifically educated 'surgeons' (metaphorically speaking) is convinced sufficiently of the integrity of the new science findings to take serious heed and 'wash his hands' of his old ways. In fact the 'fall of determinism' is a non-trivial, once-in-2500-years event since the formal development of the notion of determinism dates back to 500 B.C. and the philosophies of Parmenides, Plato and Aristotle and it has been permeating the foundational underpinnings of western culture and education ever since.

We knew that 'something was wrong' with the western approach to social regulation, business regulation and political regulation, not to mention psychological regulation, and now we know what it is; i.e. we cannot assume that 'effect' is 'caused' deterministically from the inside of a system since what a system does is inductively shaped by the enveloping environmental dynamic it is included within.  The evolution of the 'play' in the game of pool (or in traffic-flow on the freeway or in the solar system) is not 'determined' solely by the actions and transactions of the balls but is inductively shaped by the enveloping environmental dynamic that includes these actions and transactions.   The skilled pool player understands this well; i.e. the deeper way to look at the dynamics of pool is in terms of the transformation of opportunity-to-act, ... and the same is true for the person suffering from 'mental illness', ... i.e. it makes a difference if one is enveloped by doors that open for you and to be greeted by smiling faces who guide you into continuing corridors of opportunity, ... versus the experience that the doors are always closing in your face as you come up to them and the people around you seem to be unaware of you, going about their business as if you did not exist.   Even if your 'aware self' has the strength to deal with this, ... your sub-aware neural balancing responses may eventually reach the point where they 'break down' and are unable to stay 'grounded'.  So this 'fall of determinism' that may take many more decades to flow through the educational system, permeate the discipline of psychiatry and be incorporated in therapeutic practice, is of immediate import.  As shocking as it is to the western educated mind, the discovery that 'determinism' is a reductive illusion rather than something 'we can count on', is as real a 'fact of life' as the Copernican revolution and if one 'listens', one can hear the leading edges of science throwing out some warnings of what is in the pipeline in our coming to grips with this, which may reach the 'man-on-the-street' a few generations down the road of history yet-to-come.

If you ask your psychiatrist about the following (or even about neurofeedback), you are likely to get a blank stare in response, or an admission of not being very familiar with it, but the 'warnings' are 'out there' in the new science world, about the hazards of depending on determinism, ... and it is 'determinism' that leads to the notion that it is the 'defect' within the system that is responsible for pathological behavior rather than inductive influence of the enveloping environmental (social) dynamic.   The warning cited just below, came in the form of a public 'apology' for science continuing to propagate the erroneous notion of 'determinism' even though determinism had been shown to be erroneous by Henri Poincaré in the 1890's (in the development of the principles of 'relativity' and 'complexity'- 'sensitive dependence on initial conditions' that deepened our understanding of the nature of 'stability' and dynamical equilibrium in natural systems in general).  Poincaré's work lay fallow until the 1960's whereupon determinism was once again shown to be erroneous by the work of Lorenz (an MIT weather researcher, and not the 'Lorentz' that was co-credited with Poincaré for discovering 'relativity'), but this demise of 'determinism' still had not made its way through to the mindset of 'the educated public' in 1986 (a situation continuing to persist through to the time of writing this note, May, 2002). 

The 1986 apology came through the late Sir James Lighthill, who took over the Lucasian chair in applied mathematics at Cambridge from Paul Dirac in 1969, ... the same chair that had been occupied by Isaac Newton 300 years earlier.  Lighthill asserted, at a meeting of the Royal Society (as documented in 'The Recently Recognized Failure of Predictability in Newtonian Dynamics' in the 1986 proceedings of the Royal Society);

"We are all deeply conscious today that the enthusiasm of our forebears for the marvelous achievements of Newtonian mechanics led them to make generalizations in this area of predictability which, indeed, we may have generally tended to believe before 1960, but which we now recognize were false. We collectively wish to apologize for having misled the general educated public by spreading ideas about the determinism of systems satisfying Newton's laws of motion that, after 1960,were to be proved incorrect. In this lecture, I am trying to make belated amends by explaining both the very different picture that we now discern, and the reasons for it having been uncovered so late."

What Sir James Lighthill says in the above apology is very relevant to our view of the source of mental illness, as to whether we think of mental illness as being 'sourced internally' (deterministically) by defective genetic instructions and biochemical functioning, or whether we think of mental illness in terms of the loss of dynamical equilibrium between the simultaneously interacting enveloping environmental dynamic and the included systems dynamics.   That is, would you say that dissonance in traffic flow on a crowded freeway is attributable to the effects of faulty driver behaviors that are 'determining' the traffic flow, or would you say, instead, that since the drivers are co-creatively shaping their enveloping opportunity-to-move through the way that they move relative to their enveloping fellows, that the way they are interacting with one another is inducing the pathology in the traffic flow.   What 20th century science has established is that the latter view is consistent with our observations of nature and the old 'deterministic view' is actually 'in error', an error made by Newton that is easily seen in retrospect as is described by François Lurçat [1]. 

There is a subtlety in this deepening of our scientific mode of perception and inquiry from 'deterministic' to 'relativistic' that can be seen in the example of the game of pool.   The person that sees the game in terms that the play is 'determined' by the actions and transactions of the 'independent' constituents (balls), is missing the point that the over-riding influence on the evolution of play is the inductive shaping of opportunity-to-act that emerges from the patterns that form from the relative motion of the constituents.   That is, the actions of the constituents relative to one another co-produce their continuing opportunity-to-act and pathological patterns can form wherein particular constituents are 'shut out' of the play by the relative dynamics of enveloping subgroups of others that selectively 'shut down' their opportunity-to-act.

I think all of us have felt this feeling that we are becoming 'invisible' and 'of no value' to the enveloping social dynamic, .. .that opportunity-to-participate is never opening up for us, ... and that opportunity-to-express ourselves is similarly shrinking down to nothing.   These effects, rather than being due to deficiencies in our assertive faculty (though they may be partially countered by amplifying our assertiveness) represent pathology that is 'induced' by the 'shape' of the enveloping social dynamic, ... in the same manner that the constituent (ball) in pool can find itself  'out-of-play', not because of deficiencies in its ability to 'act and transact' but because it is being 'snookered' by the enveloping dynamic; i.e. its opportunity-to-participate is being differentially 'closed down' by the manner in which the enveloping constituents are acting 'relative' to themselves and to it.

Whether or not our aware faculties can 'put up with' this 'social snookering', our sub-aware neural responses that are trying to sustain an inner-outer dynamical equilibrium may ultimately 'twist off' and lose their 'grounding', a situation that manifests in 'psychosis' or 'mental illness' of some type.

So is there any direct evidence that mental illness is induced by environmental conditions, where people are treated as if they are invisible and opportunity-to-participate is closed down for them?

Numerous research findings in the UK have found that the incidence of schizophrenia amongst the immigrant black minority population are five times the rate for whites and five time the rate for blacks in other countries where they are in a majority situation (i.e. where there is ample opportunity-to-participate). For a summary of this research, see 'Mental Health and Ethnic Minorities', 1995, by R. Cochrane and S.P. Sashidaran, University of Birmingham and Northern Birmingham Mental Health Trust.

There is no consistency between the deterministic model of an interior defective genetics and/or biochemical functioning 'causal' source of schizophrenia and these data, ... but there is full consistency with the notion that this psychological pathology has been environmentally induced.

This is not to say that mental illness would not respond to medication-based treatment since, as has also been noted by many researchers into psychiatric practice, neuroleptic medication 'turns off' the natural alarm systems of the psychosomatic system without doing anything about an inductive source of the psychopathology.  As Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who has been termed "the conscience of American Psychology" says;

"The neuroleptic drugs have gradually become promoted as agents with a specific "antipsychotic" effect on schizophrenic symptoms. Meanwhile, psychosocial approaches have fallen into disrepute among many psychiatrists. Patients have been instructed to remain on neuroleptics for a lifetime and told that it was safe to do so. "

and Breggin goes on to inventory, in terrible detail, the very different reality which is playing itself out (see ) in terms of both severe physiological and violently antisocial side-effects of the drugs. In the following paragraphs, he describes the manner in which those who recognize and rebel against the focus on 'internal cause' of psychopathology that indemnifies the social dynamic from any complicity, are subdued by the neuroleptics;

"The overall impact is a chemical lobotomy so, since frontal lobe function is suppressed (Breggin, 1983, 1991), the patient becomes de-energized or de-enervated. Will or volition is crushed, and passivity and docility are induced. The patient complains less and becomes more manageable. Despite the claims made for symptom cure, multiple clinical studies document a non-specific emotional flattening or blunting effect (reviewed in Breggin 1983, 1991).

There is no significant body of research to prove that neuroleptics have any specific effect on psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. To the contrary, these remain rather resistant to the drugs. The neuroleptics mainly suppress aggression, rebelliousness, and spontaneous activity in general. This is why they are effective whenever and wherever social control is at a premium, such as in mental hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, institutions for persons with developmental disabilities, children's facilities and public clinics, as well as in Russian and Cuban psychiatric political prisons. Their widespread use for social control in such a wide variety of people and institutions makes the claim that they are specific for schizophrenia ridiculous."

Breggin is far from a solitary voice in speaking out against the deterministic model of psychiatry that fully attributes the psychopathology to internal cause, .. Ronald Laing (The Politics of Experience', 'The Divided Self'), Thomas Szasz ('The Myth of Mental Illness', 'Schizophrenia: Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry' etc.) have also spoken out.   In Italy, the 'Psychiatria Democratica' movement has emerged from the work of Ongaro Basaglia, who observes;

"The problem of psychiatric illness and its institutions developed in our society primarily as a question of public order. It came into being as a socio-political problem, namely the defense of the healthy and working community from elements that would not conform to its modes of behaviour and rules of efficiency. Isolated care and treatment justified the segregation and internment of the 'ill' who were considered less for their illness than their potential as disruptive elements. This focus on abnormality and deviance, especially social disruption, meant that subjective suffering was not addressed - nor were the diverse variables giving rise to psychiatric problems. Despite decades of public concern and specific legislation opposing this approach, scientific theories, professional bodies and institutions have resisted abandoning the provision of a style of care that protects society to the detriment of those cared for." (Ongaro Basaglia, Int. J. Soc. Psychiat., 1992, 38, p36). see  

In less severe cases of 'mental illness' there is also abundant evidence for the psychopathology being induced through the  interdependence of inner and outer dynamics.    For example, Dr Neal Cohen suggests that we "...should encourage people 'to recognize there is something normal --- not aberrant ---about their response to these events...'" where 'these events' refers to psychopathologies induced in south Manhattan residents in the wake of the Sept 11th destruction of  the World Trade Center towers and the launching of the 'War on Terrorism'.  Researchers studying the psychological effect of these events estimate that 17 percent of the residents of southern Manhattan suffer from either post-traumatic stress disorder or depression and these figures are expected to rise as the effects of the disruption in the patterns of life and working continue to be assimilated.  The worldwide total will never be known because of the nature of inductive influence; i.e. there are no 'causal' relationships involved and the psychopathology emerges from neural training within the individual as a natural 'alarm call' for a response to the enveloping environmental dynamic, ... a dynamic that 'pulls' from many directions at the same time, ... the loss of the symbolic, the calls for retribution, the loss of a job, the death of a friend, a change in the way of life.

While there is abundant 'evidence' to support the misguidedness of the 'deterministic model' of mental illness, it is certainly not the intention of this writing to 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' since many capable and compassionate people in the 'healing professions' have committed themselves to assist the sufferers of mental illness in recovering and sustaining their psychological health in spite of being unaware of the problem with the deterministic model.  There are comparisons here, with the entrenched resistance to accepting the contributory role of bacteria in physical illness, where many capable doctors and surgeons were doing their compassionate best for their patients in spite of non-hygienic interventions due to their unawareness and their abject disbelief that 'hygiene' was a significant problem (i.e. they had long believed that infection was 'spontaneously generated in situ' in weak systems).

In the case of modern psychiatry, even with the subsuming of the deterministic model by the relativistic model, there will still be a useful 'short term' role for medication in the critical phases of illness for toning down the 'alarm systems' within the psychosomatic system so as to open up a quiet space for the person to re-ground their psychological dynamics, in contrast to the current practice of giving medication for the long term commensurate with the deterministic model view of an internal defect as the source of psychopathology.

Group therapy, even though its development may have been motivated by the deterministic model, to help the patient to 'come to terms with' and to 'live with' the purported 'internal defects within them', ... can be seen, at the same time, in the very different 'relativistic' light of an evolved therapeutic form or 'healing activity' beneficial to the restoring of dynamical balance and wholeness.   That is, the codynamical engagement in the group therapy process itself, ignoring the patronising content, serves to restore the inner-outer dynamical balance that may have 'twisted off' as the enveloping society dynamic inadvertently shut the experient off from meaningful participation and authentic self-expression.

There are more holes in the deterministic model of psychiatry than can be mentioned in the brief space of this note, and the intention is to get on with describing an approach to 'healing' that is more consistent with the relativistic model (i.e. the model wherein psychopathology is induced by the enveloping social dynamic), however, it should be mentioned that the notion of 'internal defect' associated with the deterministic model gives way to 'internal sensitivity to environmental conditions' (sensitive dependence on initial conditions) in the case of the relativistic model.  The net effect is to transform what has been seen as a 'defect' in sufferers of mental illness to the more reasoned and consistent terms of a 'sentient giftedness' that must be more carefully 'managed' in an enveloping social dynamic that is rife with psychopathology-inducing influences.

In this regard, it is worth reflecting on the research of Jill Astbury. In ‘Crazy for You: The Making of Women's Madness', Astbury comments on the 1993 World Health Organization study that shows that women have twice the incidence of ‘affective disorders’ (depression, bipolar disorder etc.) as men, statistics that do not mention the psychopathology inducing role of the enveloping social dynamic, the frequent pushiness and abusive use of power by males that tends to render females 'invisible', shutting them off from opportunity-to-participate and shutting them off from opportunity for authentic self-expression; i.e. opportunity for participation and for self-expression is often only available if the female is willing to forego the 'meaningfulness' in the participation and the 'authenticity' in the self-expression (i.e. is the female is willing to participate and express herself in the prevailing masculine terms), ... and to resist this betraying of one's authentic self can close the doors to opportunity to participation and self-expression and make one increasingly invisible, shrinking one's sense of self-worth down to the size of a dried pea.   Thus, in a community where ‘normalcy’ is a normalcy wherein male control hierarchies dominate and dictate the manner of participation and self-expression, the statistics, instead of implying the 'sentient giftedness' of women, imply their ‘inferiority’ or ‘defectiveness’.  Astbury observes;

"For very many years, there was thought to be nothing at all odd about the almost universal situation of male researchers investigating female research subjects and proposing more or less complicated solutions to what the researchers themselves had constructed as the problem of female difference.  Once this difference was embedded in the research [as the normative database], it became an easy matter to prove that it existed and that women departed in a pathological way from the ideal of a male norm:  in other words, women were deviant by definition.  The research stemming from this viewpoint had a systemic blindness.  It could literally not see what it was doing as the normative quality of its own presuppositions had made them invisible."


How then do we 'jump the gun' of the many decades that it is anticipated will be required for the subsuming of the deterministic model by 'relativity' and 'sensitivity' (sensitive dependence on enveloping social-environmental dynamics)?


The direction would appear to be clear, and that is to raise the awareness on the part of the 'sensitive one's' who are succumbing to 'mental illness' and to their immediate fellows, at least, that the psychopathology is being induced by an enveloping social dynamic that is shutting off the sensitive ones from meaningful participation and authentic self-expression, ... a shutting off that may even be denied by the sufferer at the aware level but is evident at the unaware neural response level that is charged with sustaining inner-outer dynamical equilibrium.   While medication can be useful as a supportive tool to 'still the noise' of the psychosomatic alarms and open up the quiet space to give the experient a chance to restore his/her inner-outer codynamical 'grounding', it can only open a door to natural healing and has no healing capacity in its own right.  In this revised context, group therapy can be ideal, wherein the opportunity for meaningful participation and authentic self-expression is restored and the 'self' that had become invisible and shrunken in worth is re-hydrated back into its natural, authentic resonant fleshiness. 


That neurofeedback also has a role to play here can be envisaged if one reflects on the nature of psychopathology through the 'new science lenses' of relativity and complexity.


While the deterministic model sees things in terms of sequential, time-based 'cause-and-effect' (e.g. starting from genetic instructions that kick off biochemical functioning that, in turn, 'determines' the individual's behavioral patterns), the relativistic model sees things in terms of dynamical space-time phase relationships that are not expressible in terms of 'time-based' actions and transactions or 'time-based events'.  In the relativistic model, the behaviors of community-and-constituent are interdependent and 'emerge' from the 'relative' actions of the constituents rather than being 'determined' by the actions of the constituents.  For example, from the inside of a 'traffic flow', ...everyone is, at the same time, moving relative to everyone else and since multiple drivers are moving under each other's influence in the 'continuing now', there is no longer any analytical way of understanding this behavior and explaining that what is happening is due to 'him over here doing this' and 'her over there doing that' and so on and so forth in the time-based causal approach of determinism.  What is 'really' happening is felt by the driver that is included within this traffic flow, and that is that he 'lets go' of his self-centered control orientation and allow his responses to 'float' according to the dynamical shape of the enveloping opportunity-to-act space.  Of course, all of the drivers (in a collaborative situation) are doing this 'at the same time', thus the overall traffic flow dynamic is 'emerging' from this simultaneous, mutual 'co-creative' shaping of the common enveloping 'opportunity-to-move' space.  This dynamic is essentially an 'inner-outer dynamic' wherein the inner system is 'thrusting and parrying' [3] at the same time in multiple radially azimuthal directions, in pursuit of inner-outer resonance (an energy-conserving mode that transcends purely kinetic models [4]) this type of dynamic cannot be 'reduced' to a time-based sequentially adaptive model without losing essential information.


For example, the neural system of a human is continually responding to inner-outer thermal flow imbalances along many different radial azimuths at the same time.  We 'may' reduce this to the deterministic ('flatspace') view where we plot a time-based graph of the body temperature and the ambient temperature that shows how a rise in ambient temperature will tend to be followed by a rise in body temperature that is moderated and balanced in an apparently 'adaptive' fashion, by sub-aware neural responses of the body.  But this 'reduction' to time-based adaption (cause-and-effect determinism) takes us back to the 'transactional' view and is equivalent to considering ocean waves in terms of time-based translational motion, when, in reality, the wave motion is constituted by inner-outer dynamical energy exchanges between the hydrosphere and atmosphere and it is only a 'reductive illusion' to consider them in purely kinetic translational terms.  To do so leads us into paradox of our own making in the same way that trying to apply Plato's perfectly rectangular street layouts in his perfect city lead to paradox when we try to extend the layout to the spherical surface of the earth.  That is, what does it look like when all of the ocean waves are lined up going the same direction at equal time intervals on the spherical surface of the earth?   The point is that while inner-outer dynamics and spherical resonance (as in the solar system and in natural systems in general) are consistent with our life experience, the reducing of our experience to the abstract illusion of time-based adaptation equates to removing our 'self' from the continuing emergence-in-the-now of life and has us instead 'looking down on our self' as if in a 'flatspace' series of pictures, ... as if we were seeing our self on a television screen in front of us rather than experiencing being immersed and included in the dynamic of life.


Meanwhile, our neural responses 'know better' are are busily training themselves in 'inner-outer dynamic equilibrium-seeking mode'.  


What might we expect to happen when the deterministic model of educated western people trains our aware consciousness to think of our individual dynamic in the same terms as just described for body temperature, reducing our inner-outer dynamical experience to an abstract time-based adaptive progression on a flatspace screen in front of us?  What we can expect for ourselves is a 'splitting' apart of our sub-aware neural responses that are training so as to deal with inner outer sentient experience, and our aware rational neural processes that are training so as to deal with the reductive illusion of a time-based view of transactional events and adaptations.  In addition to this, we can expect, for our communities, an open season on the allocation of opportunity-for-meaningful participation and for authentic-self-expression, so that the most powerful and aggressive monopolize such participation and self-expression, shutting out (disopportunizing) less powerful and aggressive others (e.g. females), inducing psychopathology in the most sensitive of these.


Because we are culturally conditioned to reduce our life experience in the inner-outer dynamic of the 'continuing now' down to time-based transactional sequences, our neural responses tend to train in sympathy (i.e. tend to be 'culturally conditioned'), ... thus sub-aware neural responses may have us 'lock-in' (obsess) on time-based events (such as the Sept. 11th disaster) or lock-in on painful events in our past or visions of what we fear will become of us or our loved ones in the future, ... a lock-in that removes us from the 'emergent now' wherein we have the power to co-creatively influence, through our relative actions, the enveloping shape of opportunity-to-act that inductively shapes the forward transformative unfolding of the emergent 'now'.  In other words, the 'deterministic' model takes us out of our immersed inclusional experiencing of life, wherein we have the opportunity to participate meaningfully and authentically in shaping the emergent form of the 'now dynamic' (the reductive 'flatspace' term for which is 'the future').


Thus we find ourselves helpless to do anything about it when our sub-aware neural responses 'lock-in' on a painful or ecstatic time-based event (past or future) and we may go into a state of manic activity or succumb to a panic attack or fall into depression.  


Where 'biofeedback' and in particular 'neurofeedback' training comes in is to allow us to get in touch with our inner-outer dynamical neural responses, those responses that, for example, keep us in thermal equilibrium with the enveloping environmental thermal dynamics etc.  By exercising our sub-aware neural responses, we essentially bring them up from below the surface of sub-awareness where they have been 'untouchable' by our aware mind, so that we can awarely access and guide them, and in so doing, 'liberate' them from remanent conditioning that has been causing them to 'lock-in' on fearful or ecstatic thoughts.  The impressions from those who have used neurofeedback to liberate them from 'locking in' to, for example, depression, describe the post neurofeedback feeling in terms of having a restored natural ability to separate the natural reconciling of loss with the obsessive lock-in to the painful thought of loss; i.e. the trained neural response that 'locks in' to the painful thought has been effectively 'untrained' by the neurofeedback and the lability of the neural responses are restored in the direction of their childhood state.   A useful analogy is the 'de-magnetizing' of a magnetic recording head that has acquired 'remanant' magnetism in the course of use, that lowers its susceptibility to responding to current incoming signal.


In conclusion, the deterministic model has encouraged us to 'take ourselves outside of the immersed-in-life mode of our natural experience' and make us 'voyeurs' of our own lives, ... 'picturing ourselves' as adaptive machines that are equipped for 'time-based' response to sequential stimuli.  Since this 'abstract reduction' of determinism permeates most aspects of our culture, particularly education and community regulation, and of course, psychiatry, ... it has us 'going in one direction' while our sub-aware neural responses, continuing in their evolved quest to sustain inner-outer dynamical balance, are going in another direction.   While the current 'old-science' deterministic psychiatric model has us trying to 'repair' or compensate for 'defects' in our genetic make-up and biochemical functioning, supplementing such repairs with psychotherapy to help us restore balance in our medication-corrected mode, ... a new-science relativistic psychiatric model will recognize that psychopathology is induced by the enveloping socio-environmental dynamic and one must instead, rekindle inner-outer balance which equates to restoring our meaningful participation and authentic self-expression in the enveloping social-environmental dynamic.


As David Abram observes in ‘The Spell of the Sensuous’;


"Today we participate almost exclusively with other humans and with our own human-made technologies. It is a precarious situation, given our age-old reciprocity with the many-voiced landscape. We still 'need' that which is other than ourselves and our own creations."


That is, we have progressively been building time-based regulatory structures over top of ourselves through regulatory control hierarchies on the strength of the science-endorsed notion of determinism.  Today, even if we live in the country, we can 'hear the clatter' of new and more detailed rule-based constructions descending over us like a concentric nesting of cages over a once wild human-in-nature ecology, to the point that the light of our 'natural way' is being subsumed by the synthetically illuminated rigid structures of our own making regulated by determinist clockworks that clash one with the other, rather than entering into resonant phase coupling relationships as characterize non human-dominated nature.  In this western pursuit of domination and control over the unpredictable, we are detaching our aware self from its natural phase-coupling with the enveloping inner-outer dynamics of the continuously emerging 'now' and becoming voyeurs of our own lives, ... reducing our natural life to time-based thoughts and plans in the manner suggested by John Lennon wherein our inner-outer life experience becomes "... something that happens to us while we're busy making other plans."  'Globalization' is emerging as a mechanically unifying centrally controlled (by global committee) regulatory scheme, ... a mad attempt by humans intent upon 'dominating nature' to achieve synthetic predictability 'deterministically' and avoid the clashing that emerges from 'independent' clockworks regulation.   


Science has continued to insist on the 'independence' of the behavior of the individual 'material agent' (i.e. 'determinism') and psychiatry uses this 'independence' of behavior as the foundation of its 'healing' approach, treating the 'patient' as if the dysfunction is purely 'his' and is being sourced by a cause internal to 'him', and so 'helping' him to re-engage with the mechanical yoke of the bottom-up social determinism we call 'normalcy'.  The price of this reductive illusion of 'independence' of the individual material agent is being paid in terms of the eruption of dissonance and dysfunction from the interactions of multiple 'independent' organizations, communities, nations.  But western man is refusing to accept the manifest reality that our individual behaviors are bound together, in the manner that the behaviors of the individual planets and sun are bound together, by their co-producing of an enveloping community dynamic that is, at the same time, the reference 'grounding' from which the constituent behaviors are pushing off from (in the manner that multiple vortices co-creatively transform the shape of the enveloping vortex they are simultaneously pushing off from).  This is, in its essence, the principle of relativity that Henri Poincaré describes, along with 'sensitive dependence on initial conditions',  in his work on the stability of the solar system. (N.B. Poincaré's principle of relativity was later introduced in a 'reduced' form by Einstein [5].  Einstein characterized relativity fully in terms of the 'objective world out there', removing the subjective perception and inquiry 'included-observer' implications that had been captured by Poincaré in terms of 'conventionalism'.


This particular notion of 'independence' in terms of man's detachment from the enveloping dynamic of community and nature has permeated deeply into the western cultural consciousness.  Thus western man sees the community dynamic as something that is constructed deterministically or 'bottom-up' from the behaviors of the 'independent' constituents rather than the community dynamic being something that emerges continually from the relative behaviors or 'interactions' of the constituents and, at the same time, is the enveloping 'pushing off ground' for the constituent behaviors.  This notion of 'independence' has persisted in spite of all manner of experiential observations supporting the simultaneous interdependence of community-constituent dynamics as shown in Poincaré's work on the stability of systems.   Its persistence is embodied in the evolution of deterministic experts who have become, at the same time, councillors to the majority rule-based centralized deterministic control-hierarchies and gatekeepers for the regulatory models of community.


From an 'everyday experience' point of view, ... what, then, is the nature of the non-independence of the constituent relative to the community dynamic?


We know that our body seeks 'participation' with the enveloping environmental dynamic through inner-outer dynamical equilibrium,... even at the sub-aware, non-socialized level; i.e. our neural responses are 'trained' to seek inner-outer thermal equilibrium as we have a 'limited operating range', ... a clear 'dependence' upon the environmental dynamic that will induce movement of many types, including the raising of goose-pimples to pinch down on sources of heat loss to the environment.


Our early socialization process is also characterized by the search for inner-outer participation in the enveloping family/community dynamic, i.e;


"Children model their behavior primarily on the behavior of their parents and other authority figures. Whether or not this behavior is effective at producing happiness doesn't prevent the child from modeling it; the modeling is not a result of reasoning, but is due to simple observation and imitation. This mimicry is illustrated in the old saying "Like father, like son," or now better put, "Like parent, like child." Whether parents are happy or not doesn't stop a child from imitating what he or she observes; children are like dry sponges ready to absorb the first water they come in contact with."


There are plenty of signals coming from the enveloping social dynamic that inductively 'train' the assertive behaviors of the child during the socialization, thus 'mimicry' is the induced 'result' rather than being 'caused' by the authority figures; i.e. mimicry is induced by the manner of the opening up of sustained opportunity-to-assert for the child and it is the 'authority figures' that co-create the shape of the 'possibility space' (assertion-accommodating-space) that envelopes the child and inductively shapes his assertive behavior.


Each generation of young geese similarly learns how to fly in 'V' formation, not by 'mimicry' but by being sensorily induced to participate in the inner-outer resonance of the collaborative flight dynamic.   In a similar geometry, the motorcyclist by his manner of interacting with the enveloping freeway traffic, co-creates a sustained sweetspot that he can occupy and he does so by 'feeling' rather than by 'sight'; i.e. his sight helps him in his predator (seize an opportunity) and prey (avoid a danger) activities, but it is his inner-outer sensation that informs him on issues of overall dynamical 'stability' and as to when he is interacting with the enveloping otherness in such a way that, by implication, everyone wins in being able to go farther and faster on less energy.   The energy savings of the geese and collaborating motorcyclists are real and come from 'inner-outer resonance', ... letting one's asserting into the enveloping common-space phase-couple resonantly with the continuously emerging shape of possibility-to-assert (i.e. with the accommodating susceptibility of the 'receptor mode' of the enveloping collective to open up for the asserting of the constituents).   Clearly the behavior of the constituent is simultaneously interdependent with the community behavior in this case (the general case in nature) and the geometry is one wherein the 'collective self' can enter into resonant inner-outer engagement with the 'authentic self'. 


Everywhere one looks in nature one sees collaboration that is co-inductively shaped by the enhanced 'possibility' that it presents to the individual by the manner of how he behaves relative to the behaviors of his enveloping fellows.   The collaborative behavior of slime-mold amoebas allows them to 'climb into their own co-created bus' (and go farther and faster than they ever could as 'independent' individuals) in searching for new sources of food when the local resources are depleted.  This type of co-managed energy-flow, that sustains and stabilizes the constituent-environment codynamic, nests outwards and inwards in a mutually co-enfolding manner through the common-space of the rain forest and could be said to be the basic 'eco-ethic' of the rainforest wherein the constituents co-induce their own enveloping and nurturing 'living space', 'pulling themselves up into a co-evolutionary spiral by their own bootstraps'.


We cannot speak to the psychological stability (sustained balance) of an 'individual' or 'individual community, nation etc., any more than we can speak of the stability-in-its-own-right of the Earth's dynamic (i.e. the stability of an individual planet).  We can only speak of the stability of the enveloping community-constituent codynamic, a stability that is 'relative' and that draws from inner-outer spherical resonance, ... a phenomenon innate in nature (but ignored in the reductive illusion of 'determinism') involving simultaneous interdependence between the community dynamic and the included constituent dynamic (i.e. the latter is 'grounded' relativistically and thus interdependently, in the former).


'Determinism', the proven-false-by-science principle that makes us blind to the over-riding role of the community-constituent codynamical resonance in nature, continues to persist as the pathology-infusing basis for social/psychological regulation in our western culture-dominated world.  It gives us the false illusion that the behavior of the individual and the individual nation 'exist in their own right' when in fact the behavior of the individual is innately interdependent with the enveloping community behavior.   It is not that the individual has 'no free will', ... it is instead that the community dynamic that the constituent is 'pushing-off from' is simultaneously transformed 'in the pushing-off'.   Thus the enveloping 'reference ground' of the community dynamic is simultaneously interdependent with the constituent's dynamic (the one is a distinctive feature included within the other, as the whirlpool is a distinctive feature included within the river flow).  This interdependent community-constituent flow dynamic is the embodiment of 'relativity' and the implication of this interdependency is that the community dynamic we are 'looking out at' is not 'their dynamic' but 'our dynamic'.  Thus it makes no sense for us to 'split off' an individual's behavior from its innate environmental interdependency and conceive of it as 'in-her-own-right' and as 'faulty' and to seek to 'correct it' in a deterministic or 'purificationist' manner, as is the madness of the western scientific mindset, since to do so attacks the very core of 'stability' of the naturally resonant system.


Stability (sustained inner-outer dynamical balance) in the social dynamic emerges from a 'letting go' of rigid self-centered assertiveness by putting one's behavior into the service of co-creatively shaping the common enveloping possibility-to-assert space so as to sustain balanced opportunity for one's fellow constituents as well as oneself,...  a condition that leads to stable, harmonious flow in the example of freeway driving [4].   As we know from experience, this 'letting go' does not preclude our independent pursuit of unique and authentic purpose, ... it simply asks us to sustain a sensitive awareness, while 'doing our own thing', of how our actions relative to those of our fellows are co-shaping the enveloping possibility-to-act space, ... and would have us engage so as to sustain balanced opportunity-to-assert for our fellows as for ourselves.  The 'letting go' is thus a 'letting go' of our 'time-based deterministic plans' (we can use these plans as 'guides' but not in a deterministic 'operationalizing' mode)  in recognition that we cannot achieve harmonious flow in the community dynamic without, like the geese, moving so as to co-produce sustainable sweetspots for each other in the enveloping community 'slipstream' that emerges from our relative actions.


We are currently in the 'heyday' of 'determinism by majority dictate' where the majority employs their preferred political philosophy (of the right, left or center) in developing a time-based transactional plan whereby the constituents of the community are to achieve a desired end-state.  This is, in essence, a reduction of the complex interdependent community-constituent dynamic as manifests in nature, down to an oversimplified statistical approximation based on the 'correct' actions and transactions of the constituents seen as 'independent' material agents.   Once this deterministic approximation has been accepted as 'the way things work', ... if dissonance emerges in the community dynamic, it is only natural to inquire and respond to it as if it were being sourced by (from within) the 'independent' material agents that are causally responsible for the community dynamic.


Meanwhile, this deterministic model-based behavior is abstract and unnatural and individuals of different nature experience differing degrees of difficulty in complying with it.  As organizations and society in general have authored more extensive and intensive demands for constituent compliance with the deterministic model, the pressures on the individual to conform or else be shut out of meaningful participation in the community dynamic have been rising.   For those who by their nature do not 'have it in them' to comply, psychological pathologies may be induced and they may find their non-compliance being interpreted in the one-sided context of a 'social problem' as Ongaro Basaglia describes;


"The problem of psychiatric illness and its institutions developed in our society primarily as a question of public order. It came into being as a socio-political problem, namely the defense of the healthy and working community from elements that would not conform to its modes of behaviour and rules of efficiency. Isolated care and treatment justified the segregation and internment of the 'ill' who were considered less for their illness than their potential as disruptive elements. This focus on abnormality and deviance, especially social disruption, meant that subjective suffering was not addressed - nor were the diverse variables giving rise to psychiatric problems."


 Comments affirming Basaglia's interpretation abound from those whose natures do not bend easily to the intensifying pace-setting of determinism;


"Ergo, society is (on the whole) bloody ignorant, and totally false in the way it provides its "care" for autistics (and schizophrenics, whose difficulties are almost always stress-induced). It tends to blame us for our individuality and inability to fit in with what it wants..."


In concluding this note 'Towards more balanced inquiry and response in psychological health', ... it can be readily observed that we do not have to be victims of our own abstract deterministic concepts; i.e. 'time' and 'the transactions of 'independent' material agents'.   We are, in fact, free to 'let go' of our self-centered dream of control.  And if and when we do, the continuously emergent now is all around us, sensuous and resonant, awaiting the never-too-late re-embrace of our dynamical inclusionality.


 * * *


[1] 'Le Chaos et L'Occident' (Chaos Theory and the West) Académie des Sciences morales et politiques - ), by  François Lurçat, physicist and professor emeritus in physics at the University of Paris

"This dream of domination [implied by 'determinism'] has henceforth lost all legitimacy and persists for no other reason than our 'mental inertia'.  An historical epoch has come to an end and we struggle to conjecture what is going to succeed it.  Isn't the need truly well overdue for us to draw on the lessons of the past and recognize where we now are?  I would say that a problem is posed to us by allowing ourselves to remain within the framework fixed by this work: to understand the findings of 20th century science.   By 'to understand' I intend this; not to constrain our understanding to the step-by-step reasoning of physics, but to be able to put these findings into the context of an interpretation of the world.  From this point of view, it is necessary to recognize, in my opinion, that we have not understood (Not 'we', the specialists, but 'we' the educated public). 'Chaos' and also 'relativity' and 'quantum mechanics', for example, remain for all practical purposes impenetrable to the educated view.  It is necessary, I believe, to acknowledge with Emmanuel Levinas that we are participating in the end of a certain way of understanding.  Will we know how recognize this?  Will we know how to discern the characteristics of an other way of understanding, larger and less 'stingy'? Therein lies another story that is in the process of unfolding."


[Original text: "Ce rêve de domination a désormais perdu toute légitimité et ne survit qu'en vertu de notre inertie mentale. Une époque de l'histoire s'achève, et nous peinons à deviner ce qui pourra lui succéder. Ne faudrait-il pas déjà tirer vraiment les leçons du passé et reconnaître où nous en sommes ? Pour rester dans le cadre fixé par ce groupe de travail, je dirai qu'un problème nous est posé : comprendre les acquis de la science du XXe siècle. Par comprendre j'entends ici : ne pas se borner à suivre les raisonnements de la physique pas à pas, mais pouvoir situer ses acquis dans une interprétation du monde. De ce point de vue, il faut reconnaître à mon avis que nous n'avons pas compris (Non pas : nous, les spécialistes, mais: nous, le public instruit). Le chaos, mais aussi la relativité et la mécanique quantique, par exemple, demeurent pour l'essentiel opaques. Il faut, je crois, reconnaître avec Emmanuel Levinas que nous assistons à la fin d'une certaine intelligibilité 16 . Saurons-nous le reconnaître ? Saurons-nous discerner les traits d'une autre intelligibilité, plus large, moins mesquine ? C'est là une tout autre question."]


[2] Historical account of Ignaz Phillip Semmelweis (discoverer of the pathological effects of bacteria whose theories were rejected by the medical profession) From the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine: 


[3] Poincaré, Henri, La relativité de l'espace, Année psychologique, 13 (1907), pages 1-17. Publié également dans Science et méthode, livre II, chapitre I. (See Book II, Chapter I in 'Science and Method' or 


[4] The 'deterministic' model leads to optimization based on the kinetic energy associated with transactions and the notions of 'economies of scale' and 'linear control hierarchies'.  Meanwhile the 'relativistic' of inner-outer dynamical balancing leads to optimization based on a deepening of resonance as in the spherically resonant dynamics of the solar system.   The energy savings associated with inner-outer resonance are of a type exemplified by geese flying in formation where the constituents, by co-producing an enveloping opportunity-to-act dynamic that lowers the resistance to their assertive penetration, can 'fly farther and faster for less', ... amplifying their migration range and their foraging and hazard-avoiding agility beyond what could ever be achieved by perfecting their solo capacities; i.e. their deterministic actions and transactions in their 'independent' material agent mode.


While the deterministic model has man seeking transactional optimization that leads in turn to 'perfecting the parts' by selection and exclusion based on opportunizing the so-called 'more performant' and disopportunizing the so-called 'less performant', Nature, on the other hand, addresses energy optimization and opportunity allocation more in line with the following description of 'co-creative dynamics' on the streets of Calcutta by Ketaki Kushari Dyson, an Anglo-Indian poet in our transdisciplinary sharing circle;

"I think a good candidate for [studying] co-creative dynamics is the way cars, cyclists, scooterists, pedestrians, pushcarts and rickshaws operate in the streets of Calcutta. Throw in a few stray animals too. From one point of view - chaotic. But the co-creative dynamics is astonishing the way cars, cyclists, scooterists, pedestrians, pushcarts and rickshaws operate in the streets of Calcutta. Throw in a few stray animals too. From one point of view - chaotic. But the co-creative dynamics is astonishing"

This example speaks to the overall system inquiry and the energy advantages of diversity in dynamical flow.   The landslide that mobilizes various different rock-sizes will go farther and faster on less energy because the diversely shaped constituents of the aggregate co-create resonance ('acoustic fluidization') between the asserting of the material agents and the inductive opening of their codynamical receptor-space.  The same principle holds true in ship design where the form of the ship is modified until the waves it is assertively producing at its cruising speed phase-couple with the capacity of the enveloping hydrodynamical receptacle to open up opportunity-to-assert, ... with the result that the ship moves through the water within the standing wave trough it is co-creating with the enveloping hydrodynamical system.

[5] from Enrico Giannetto's  'The Rise of Relativity';


Giannetto cites from the work of Henri Poincaré on relativity that preceded the work on relativity by Einstein.  While Einstein reduced the principle of relativity to the purely ‘objective’ aspects, … the original principle as formulated by Poincaré contained important ideas on the ‘subjective’ aspects of observer vantage point that are important to our view of community-constituent codynamical relationships;


"LE PRINCIPE DU MOUVEMENT RELATIF. - ...Le mouvement d'un système quelconque doit obéir aux mêmes lois, qu'on le rapporte à des axes fixes, ou à des axes mobiles entraînés dans un mouvement rectiligne et uniforme...les accélérations des différent corps qui font partie d'un systeme isolé ne dépendent que de leurs vitesses et de leurs positions relatives, et non de leurs vitesses et de leurs positions absolues, pourvu que les axes mobiles auxquels le mouvement relatif est rapporté soient entraînés dans un mouvement rectiligne et uniforme. Ou, si l'on aime mieux, leurs accélérations ne dépendent que des différences de leurs vitesses et des différences de leurs coordonnées, et non des valeurs absolues de ces vitesses et de ces coordonnées.


Si ce principle est vrai pour les accélérations relatives, ou mieux pour les différences d'accélération, en le combinant avec la loi de la réaction, on en déduira qu'il est vrai encore pour les accélérations absolues...pou parler le langage mathématique, que ces différences de coordonnées satisfont à des équations différentielles du second ordre...Ainsi énoncé, en effet, le principe du mouvement relatif ressemble singulièrement à ce que j'appelais plus haut le principe de l'inertie généralisé; ce n'est pas tout à fait la même chose, puisqu'il s'agit des différences de coordonnées et non des coordonnées elles-mêmes.20


This is the first time that relativity of motion assumed the status of a principle for inertial reference frames, situated at the foundation level of classical mechanics and related to the actual relativity of space and time. Poincaré showed the fundamental link between the inertia principle and the relativity principle, considering them as derived from experience and generalized in a way which is never completely verified and which implies an element of 'linguistic' convention. Notwithstanding the accepted conventionality of language, Poincaré, as I shall show in the following, reintroduced a Leibnizian point of view on motion: motion is considered to be 'real', not reducible to space and time relations, but also completely relative. Indeed, after the formulation of the principle of relativity for inertial reference frames, Poincaré considered the argument of Newton about the absoluteness of rotation and, against Newton, concluded for the relative nature of all motions, including rotations and accelerated ones: "



    Return to  main page