This volume addresses itself to the ways in which the so-called "new sciences of complexity" can deepen and broaden neurobiological and psychological theories of mind. Complexity theory has gained increasing attention over the past 20 years across diverse areas of inquiry, including mathematics, physics, economics, biology, and the social sciences. Complexity theory concerns itself with how nonlinear dynamical systems evolve and change over time and draws on research arising from chaos theory, self-organization, artificial intelligence and cellular automata, to name a few. This emerging discipline shows many points of convergence with psychological theory and practice, emphasizing that history is irreversible and discontinuous, that small early interventions can have large and unexpected later effects, that each life trajectory is unique yet patterned, that measurement error is not random and cannot be justifiably distributed equally across experimental conditions, that a system's collective and coordinated organization is emergent and often arises from simple components in interaction, and that change is more likely to emerge under conditions of optimal turbulence.
--One of the few volumes that addresses itself to the relationship between complexity theory and psychoanalysis; and psychology more generally.
--Several of the contributors are well-recognized authorities in the area of complexity theory.
--Wide range of topics addressed including neurodynamics, psychoanalytic theory, development, and personality theory.
"This collection of essays, drawing on powerful new readings of complexity theory, offers fascinating and useful innovations in psychoanalytic and psychological thinking. In considering the intricacy of the psychotherapy dyad, the dynamics of character, the potential for change and stability, and the problematic of individual development, we see the power of an elegant and nuanced theory which privileges pattern and unpredictable emergence.
The goals of this book are revolutionary, yet couched in careful and measured terms. We are being introduced to a new parent discipline. The authors of these essays consider complexity theory to be the 21st-century replacement for thermodynamics and for information theory as the guiding instrument of theory building. Emanating from the new perspective of nonlinear dynamic systems, the authors find wondrous possibilities in brain science, in psychology, in personality theory, in philosophy and semiotics.
It is my hope that readers will do the heavy lifting this book requires to find revealed a model of human behavior that integrates body and mind, psyche and culture, person and interpersonal field, personal subjectivity and environment. Finally, this book illuminates a theoretical apparatus sufficient to the complexity that clinicians live with.
A glossary at the end and lots of definitions within each essay makes the book suitable for an introduction to complexity theory."—Adrienne Harris, Ph.D., New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis; author, Gender as Soft Assembly
"Non-linear systems theorists have been attempting to describe biological evolution and have themselves gone through several generations of evolution. Theoreticians in this genre have pursued the elusive goal of making sense out of natural phenomena so complex that they defy linear description or explanation. This volume of papers gives a wide ranging, comprehensive and vastly interesting overview of the thinking of the present generation. The authors are leaders in the field, and they tackle the philosophical, mathematical, developmental, biological and psychological aspects of complex systems. This book will be a necessary text for anyone seriously interested in this domain. "—David D. Olds, M.D., Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; co-editor-in-chief, Neuropsychoanalysis
"The scholars in this volume succeed in explaining a wide range of psychological and treatment phenomena with only a small number of basic and fascinating principles. Dichotomies such as "nature versus nurture" and "free will versus determinism" have become false dichotomies now that the processes of emergence are better understood.
"—Stephen J. Guastello, Ph.D., Marquette University, editor-in-chief, Nonlinear Dynamics in Human Behavior, editor-in-chief, Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and the Life Sciences
"The world's inability to deal effectively with the plethora of potentially catastrophic problems facing it such as global warming, environmental collapse, famine, drought, maldistribution of wealth, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, religious fundamentalism, all stems from the deeply non-rational nature of the human psyche. Psychoanalysis has been the only discipline that has attempted a holistic theory of the mind that takes into account its non-rational nature. Unfortunately, psychoanalysis was founded upon a misapplication of reductionist physical science and so failed to live up to its full potential. The contributors to this volume seek to provide a complete re-envisioning of psychoanalysis based upon the new sciences of complexity, grounding the field in the ideas of emergence, agency, morphogenesis and giving us a psychoanalysis for the twenty-first century."—William Sulis, M.D., Ph.D., McMaster University, co-editor, Nonlinear Dynamics in Human Behavior
List of Contributors:
Stanley R. Palombo; Walter J. Freeman; Jim Grigsby, Elizabeth Osuch; Craig Piers; Jeffrey Goldstein; E. Virginia Demos; John Muller
About the Editors:
Craig Piers, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor in the health center at Williams College and former associate director of admissions and senior staff psychologist at the Austen Riggs Center. Dr. Piers is a contributing editor of Psychoanalytic Dialogues and also serves as a reviewer for several other professional journals.
John P. Muller, Ph.D. is director of training at the Austen Riggs Center. Dr. Muller is the author of numerous books, including most recently Beyond the Psychoanalytic Dyad: Developmental Semiotics in Freud, Peirce, and Lacan (Routledge, 1996).
Joseph Brent, Ph.D. is a historian of ideas. He is currently president of the Semiotic Society of America and of the Charles S. Peirce Society. Dr. Brent is the author of the only full-length biography of Peirce, of which he published a revised edition in 1993.