May 15, 2009

Fractal Dynamics of the Psyche

Without a doubt, researchers and mystics alike have discovered that human consciousness, both in structure and quality, exhibits an oscillating, fractal character. And since the advent of chaos and complexity science we are beginning to learn more about how this is so.

Below are two papers that explore the complex dynamics of human sentience, asking fundamental questions about how experience, matter and energy combine to generate the emergent features of consciousness. Enjoy:
Fractal Dynamics of the Psyche
By Terry Marks-Tarlow

While invaluable for its early insights, I believe the notion of mind as mechanism has run its course. In this paper, I introduce a different guiding metaphor in order to conceptualize the psyche, one with particular significance to clinicians immersed in the complexity of human affairs. This new metaphor represents the pendulum swung full circle, from machine back to nature, where psychology started when it first diverged from philosophy during Renaissance times. Ironically a return to organic models occurs just as the computer plus related technology ascends takes an ever more central role in most our lives.

More than ever, the computer affords us rich tools for simulating nature’s complexity. Among the most powerful of these is fractal geometry. Because fractals provide a lexicon for nature’s outer complexity, it makes sense that this new geometry is equally as effective for describing the complex terrain characteristic of inner processes.

This paper introduces the significance of fractal geometry to the psyche. In the first section, I describe this new branch of mathematics plus how to render a fractal by computer. I then articulate the significance of fractals to the development of psychological identity. Next, I claim that self-similarity, the hallmark of fractals, is a useful lens for viewing personality organization and especially repetitive patterns of behavior. I also argue that related concepts of dimensionality and scaling help lend breadth to intraspychic analysis. I use the notion of fractal boundaries to illuminate paradoxes of subjectivity and interpersonal relationships. Finally, I assert that fractal boundaries are not just a source of endless confusion and deep psychopathology, but also a fount of novelty, creativity and endless mystery in us all.

Read More: Here
The Fractal Nature of Human Consciousness
By Carl Zdenek

Using chaos, consciousness and meme theories, developmental psychology and family systems theory, this paper explains the fractal structure of the human race and how, every human activity in each era, is influenced by a dominant set of attractors: environmental conditions + psychophysiological state = physical events.

Using these disciplines an analysis of the cultural evolution of the human race and a description of the driving forces of human history are presented. Following that will be a description of Metaparadigms.

Read More: Here
Both papers, we believe, ask important questions and, at the very least, point to how important it is to attempt to synthesize what we already know about such complex realities.

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