CLINICAL CHAOS: Creative Consciousness Process
by Iona Miller and Graywolf Swinney
The human experience, and the matters with which most psychotherapists deal, do not readily conform to the predictable mechanistic laws of Newtonian science and Cartesian philosophy which have provided the basic paradigm underlying contemporary and psychological sciences. In truth, we are complex organisms that seem to be as much ruled by serendipity and chaos as by order. In fact, it is most often the compulsive and rigid structures and behaviorsdisplayed by the individual, group or family's interactions that define dysfunction and evoke pain.
To better understand and help change these complex systems requires understanding and comfort with the models of reality suggested by the new sciences: relativity, quantum physics and chaos theory. This major paradigm shift suggests a long overdue examination of our current healing practices in light of the changes in our fundamental views about natural process and of how reality is formed and structured according to the new sciences.
The Creative Consciousness Process explores that shift experientially. This practice and philosophy of therapy is best understood in the context of new sciences. It is a natural extension of many schools of psychological theory and practice, including the quantum consciousness of Capra (1975), Zukov ((1979), and Bohm (1980) and a broad range of spiritual/mystical philosophies and healing. Shamanism, ancient Greek Aesculapian dream-healing practices and the range of Eastern psychologies and holistic practices are complementary.
But the Creative Consciousness Process arose from noticing that deepening certain imagery led inexorably toward a chaotic state. It did not come from trying to fit chaos theory into therapy; rather the therapy revealed this dynamic emergent natural process at work in the psyche. The psychophysical self is imagistically disassembled to the most fundamental chaotic level beyond the template of the life or the primordial self-image. It then self-organizes in an emergent way that has been likened to rebirth, healing and renewal.
Integrating the new science of chaos theory can help us expand our understanding of reality. It impacts our sense of self as well as our concept of "how things work" in the universe. Allowing chaos back into our lives in a positive way also fosters the healing process. We have observed in experiential therapy that clients naturally gravitate in their inner journeys to a de-structured place. While there, they report feelings of rejuvination and well-being.
There are certain primary characteristics of chaos and chaotic systems (complex dynamic systems):
6) intrinsically unpredictable
7) yet boundaried
8) and geometric
9) and sustained by complex feedback loops
CHAOTIC SYSTEMS ARE:
1) sensitive to initial conditions
2) disproportionately responsive to stimuli
3) translatable from micro- to macroscopic proportions
4) attractor centered
5) shuffled time/space
6) apparently acausal (actually enfolded; implicate/explicate)
8) global phenomena
Each of these aspects can be literally or metaphorically illustrated by a consciousness state, particularly if we include dreamlife. In fact, they are all present within each and every one of us when we turn our attention inward.
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."