Monday, August 29, 2011

Jung's Chaos Theory - with a Kennard twist

The older I get and the more experiences I, well, experience, the more I am completely amazed at the human psyche.

Before I go any further, I have to admit I just looked up “human psyche” to make sure I was utilizing the right term. What happened then is what usually happens – I get a little sidetracked.

So here’s what I found. Let me just tell you first of all, I’m no rocket scientist. But I know who Carl Jung is. His name pops up when you look up “human psyche”, but of course I’m going to put my little twist on it.

According to Jung, the psyche is “a complex, self-regulating system, and the psyche functions in our causal space-time continuum via the conscious ego, but also functions in a psychic continuum that is wholly unconscious to the ego.” The psychic region of complexity that bridges the gap between these two egos is said to be the “edge of chaos”.

Now, I could get into the Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect but honestly, I know enough about each of them to nod in agreement at a cocktail party but not enough to debate it with a professor, other than mentioning that Ashton Kutcher was really good in that movie.

But I do find it fascinating that Jung considered the Chaos Theory applicable to “the holistic unity of the mind, brain, behavior and environment, and none should be examined as a separate entity.”

When I manipulate that statement and squeeze it and apply it to my own "Kennard Chaos Theory", I come up with, “This explains why you can keep your mind occupied at work during the day, play nice with your friends and family, enjoy the outdoors and be thankful for the material and non-material things you have, but still feel empty inside when you go to sleep at night.”

I think I’m a perfect example of the Chaos Theory. I am convinced that I have an equal percentage of these “entities” in my brain, and when one isn’t firing on all cylinders, it throws me into chaos until I can self-regulate.

For instance, you can be in love and have healthy, happy kids and be in good health and not have a job. Chaos.

You can have a great spouse, tons of money and supportive friends, but a sick child. Chaos.

You can have a wonderful house, a good job, and supportive friends and family, but no one to share your life with. Chaos.

And maybe “chaos” isn’t the right word, exactly. Maybe “unbalanced” is better. The thing is, all of us are somewhat in chaos. All of us are unbalanced. Very few of us have it all, depending on what our definition of having it all is. That’s why we look at each other at times and say, “I wish I were them. They have (insert big house, great job, amazing spouse, perfect kids…).”

Here’s my second point, and I go back to Jung for this one, too. I am learning that though all of us have chaos, some of us are more cognizant of it than others. Specifically, men vs. women. Now, I’m speaking in general terms, but it seems that many women, (I have to be careful here), because of their causal space-time continuum via the conscious ego versus the psychic continuum that is wholly unconscious, coupled by the fact that they are inherent multi-taskers and seem to have more of that “psychic region of complexity”, are pretty much virtually always on the edge of chaos. I think many women struggle with keeping their lives and the lives of those around them “balanced”. It's kind of what we do.

Men, on the other hand (and I’ll say it again – generally speaking), have more of a compartmentalized approach to life. They may have chaos, sure, but it seems more orderly with less overlapping as far as the number and variety of issues. In addition, I think some men try to avoid chaos at all costs. When they see that they may be on the edge of a crisis, or an unbalanced moment, they attempt to “fix” it, even if they don’t understand it. And if they don’t understand it, many get frustrated in an attempt not to “feel” it.

Here’s an example. It’s the end of a long day, and the woman is crying. She’s frustrated because she had a fight with her son and isn’t proud of how she handled it. That begets feeling guilty for not being home for him more and having to work. That begets her financial responsibility, worries about budgets and bills. That begets wondering if she spent too much on groceries, which begets beating herself up for burning dinner, and wishing her husband would have been home on time because then maybe they could have gone out to eat since she didn’t feel like cooking anyway. Now she feels inadequate as a wife, mother, and career woman. Dramatic? Uh, yeah. It is. But it happens. Women? Agreed?

So here’s the kicker. The man comes home, sees the wife crying. I don’t even know what he’s thinking. What happened? Are the kids OK? Crap, what’d I do? God, I just had a long day at work and now I have to deal with a weepy wife? Why is she always so unhappy? And where’s my dinner?

I don’t mean to make the man sound like an ass. My point is, the woman almost embraces the chaos sometimes. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing, obviously. Men, I think, on the other hand, run from it. Not because they’re weak – in fact, I wish sometimes I could do the same thing. Choose not to feel. Choose not to embrace the chaos. Their psyches are somehow wired to push the chaos down and get on with the tasks at hand.

Women know that chaos comes with their territory. Their chaotic moments are usually not the product of one specific thing – an issue at work, a problem with the car, a fight with a son or daughter or spouse. Their chaos seems to come when one of the balls they’re juggling is dropped, causing the audience – and themselves – to go, “Awwwwww.”

So how does this all tie together? Well, back to my first sentence: “The older I get and the more experiences I, well, experience, the more I am completely amazed at the human psyche.” I think I have experienced the Chaos Theory, as has everyone else in the world, some to much more of a degree than others. But upon closer examination on how different people react to their own chaos, I am incredibly amazed and sometimes perplexed. But in the end, I try to learn a little bit. I try to learn from the man who refuses to let any chaos rile him and stays on an even keel, yet feel a bit sorry for him and wonder if he’s somehow missing out on the human element by not experiencing some of these “extreme” emotions. I feel for the woman who is so overwhelmed with so much chaos that she is literally debilitated and doesn’t know how to restore order. I sympathize with the person that feels guilty that “most” things in his or her life are balanced, but the one thing that is not has created so much chaos that she can’t see the forest for the trees (that would be me).

I watch, and I learn. And I marvel at the human psyche, and the chaos we all have – of all levels – within. In the immortal words of Mr. Jung, “In all chaos there is a cosmos; in all disorder a secret order.”

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