Table of Contents
Solve Complex Problems © Martyn Carruthers 2003 – 2019
Chaos, complexity and catastrophe theories provide models for transforming human identity. Instead of following egotistic, dogmatic or statistical models, we help people enrich their integrity and renew their experience of feeling complete.
We use these models to regenerate our systemic psychology – and to help people
resolve emotional issues and solve behavioral and relationship problems
Chaos: A Renaissance of Coaching & Counseling
As our remote ancestors pondered the creation of order, they created simple stories about the emergence of stability from chaos, with hopes about how stability can be maintained. Perhaps these early stories represent a human need for certainty.
Their early stories were primitive chaos theories that preceded the ancient Greek conflict between being and becoming. This conflict, in turn, became a foundation for medieval philosophy.
In the 14th century, William of Occam criticized complex explanations for simple phenomena, saying “Do not multiply entities needlessly“. This was later called Occam’s Razor, and helped people “cut” through complexity. In the 20th century, Albert Einstein updated this with, “Make everything as simple as possible – but not simpler“.
When space turned around, the earth heated
Classical physics was based on descriptions of nature and lacked distinctions between past and future. Although such a universe would be ruled by deterministic laws, our macroscopic world is not reversible. (This continues the ancient Greek dilemma about whether the universe allows flexibility and choice or only predetermined stability.)
If we apply chaos theory to human relationships (e.g. families and teams), our systemic psychology provides massive insight into the motivations and behaviors of people in human systems – if we let go of classical, statistical, pre-systemic notions.
The behavior of complex systems is not random, rather the final states are so sensitive to the initial conditions that it is not possible to predict the future behavior of complex systems even with near-infinite knowledge of details. (E.g. the Butterfly Effect postulated that butterflies in Brazil might influence storms in the Atlantic).
Eric Poincare, a founder of modern chaos theory, wrote in 1882 “Small differences in the initial conditions produce very great ones in the final phenomena“. Poincaré used the term bifurcation to describe the emergence of multiple potential results.
Poincare’s work infers that if all outcomes have a similar chance of manifestation, then chaotic outcomes will manifest more frequently than desired outcomes – as more chaotic possibilities can result from tiny differences in the initial conditions.
Poincaré’s perceptions are relevant to human systems. Civilizations rise and fall, but never in the same way twice. Minor experiences of individuals can lead to unpredictable changes in the world. Do you remember the story … for the want of a nail … a kingdom was lost?
Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics
Before chaos theory and computers, scientists could not analyze complex systems nor predict complex behavior, even with detailed knowledge. To avoid this complexity, scientists assumed that behavior in complex systems is linear, and used statistical analysis to assess and predict the behavior of populations. In the pre-systemic world, individual contributions to population statistics were ignored.
If individual excellence is smeared across populations,
social sciences are (by definition) sciences of mediocrity.
If human systems were linear, babies could smoothly transform into adults; businesses could easily change from making candles to making computers; and countries could gently shift from fascism to democracy.
Periods of chaos are normal in living systems. During chaotic times, unexpected opportunities compete for survival in changing environments.
“Order within Chaos”: fractal created by Martyn Carruthers 2003
Assumptions of linearity and obsessions with statistics provided scientists with temporary patches until the discovery of the universal properties of complex systems.
Classical assumptions blur individual expertise across populations.
The sciences of human behavior could become great human
achievements, yet remain dull, weak and manipulative.
The I of Identity
Your subjective experience of reality – your map of the world – your answers to the question, “Who am I?” are reflected in your every thought and action. These holograms of your life reflect your perception of reality. As your perceptions are bounded by your history, you live in a phase space.
A phase space of a human system contains vast enfolded information, organized by beliefs (attractors). As complex systems are both unpredictable and patterned, organizing principles in a complex phase space are called strange attractors.
Without a need to solve complex problems, there might be no human personalities. There might be many bodies and no reason to label individuals. Ant-hill societies lack a phase space in which individual differences could be important … and such societies cannot choose their futures … change is only imposed from outside.
Human behavior seems predictable within the limits imposed by human perceptions. No matter how much you think, you are unlikely to leave the safety of your thoughts. You stay within the confines of your beliefs. Your beliefs organize (and limit) your possible actions – your beliefs act as attractors of your attention and therefore limit not only your choices but how you choose and what you allow yourself to consider!
As complex systems can now be modeled with computers, chaos theory is often applied in technology. Strangely, these applications are largely ignored by social scientists and helping professionals, for whom complexity remains hidden under obsessions with statistics and assumptions of linearity.
Why do human agents of change often avoid changing themselves?
Phase Transitions at the Edge of Chaos
You can adapt to your environment and to changing conditions within the limits you set with your beliefs. Yet, like all self-organizing systems, you live on the edge of chaos – always close to a phase transition in which either you or your environment changes in ways that you cannot control … and perhaps in ways that you cannot survive.
When chaos intrudes on your life, when you are overwhelmed by some crisis, you can retreat
Or you can embrace change with courage,
We help people transcend their old boundaries
Phase Transition Fractal
The edges of chaos are critical for a system. During phase transitions, tiny changes can tip the system into chaotic behavior … or into stability. During a crisis, tiny details from your past actions can have enormous (and statistically unpredictable) impacts on your future well-being or even on your survival.
Crises provides motivation, not just for people to change, but to transform. During a crisis, you may surprise everybody, including yourself, with solutions that prolong or shorten your survival. However, you are unlikely to find innovative solutions among pre-systemic beliefs that you already follow so well.
When chaos embraces you … embrace chaos!
When you look into chaos – let chaos look into you!
We often help people experience integrity (a strange attractor) by helping them experience a profound phase transition at the level of identity. We help precipitate a series of ecstatic states.
I found a place of nothing and everything … I could see, feel and touch options I had not considered nor even imagined possible … I found a life goal that I never knew and always sought … and as I explored the possibilities of existence I found my true self.
At the edge of chaos, when little makes sense and everything is possible, miracles can happen. But hoping for miracles does not ensure survival. Our survival may require that we find and actualize previously unimaginable solutions.
The edge of chaos is the edge of miracles …
and the edge of insanity … and the cutting edge of life.
An edge of chaos experience can be frightening, humbling and empowering. We can help you explore this cutting edge of your reality. We help people resolve complex emotional and relationship issues.