Posts Tagged ‘flow’

Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon who lived and worked in the US, studied the relationships between self-image, self-esteem and personal growth. He wrote “Psycho-cybernetics” in 1960 [ISBN 978-0-671-70075-1]. He uses a distinct language and set of concepts, which seems very 1960s to me, but the underlying understanding of human behaviour, the connections between the mind and the body, and the ways people can be helped to grow, strike me as being very true. I particularly like his emphasis on the importance of imagination and how we use it to create a self-image, and in so doing, how that sets our embodied mind (not a term he uses) off to get on with delivering according to the interpretation of reality we give it.

I like the last chapter of “Psycho-cybernetics” especially, where he says –

…the body itself is equipped to maintain itself in health; to cure itself of disease……in the final analysis that is the only sort of “cure” there is.

I’m still amazed how little this is understood. So many people, health professionals included, are caught up in the delusion of pathology and drugs. Health is not absence of pathology. Drugs don’t “cure”……they just manage disease. If there’s any healing going on, it’s the natural processes of the body which are responsible. The best drugs can do is modify disease, and in so doing modify illness, whilst we hope healing takes place in the background.

It might be an old concept to think about healing energies, but I like the way Maltz puts it –

This élan vital, life force, or adaptation energy – call it whatever you will – manifests itself in many ways. The energy which heals a wound is the same energy which keeps all our other body organs functioning……whatever works to make more of this life force available to us; whatever opens to us a greater influx of “life stuff”; whatever helps us utilize it better – literally helps us “all over”

I think, and I hope this is the way Medicine will develop – by understanding better just how people get better, and by studying the methods and techniques we can use to genuinely stimulate and support healing. It’s not the dominant paradigm yet, but I’m going to bet it will be!

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These views suggest that we are not merely receptacles but channels of energy. Life and power is not so much contained in us, it courses through us. Man’s might is not to be measured by the stagnant water of the well, but by the limitless supply from the clouds of heaven…Whether we are to look upon this impulse as cosmic energy, as a life force, or what may be its relation to the Divine immanence in Nature, it is for other investigators to say.

Hadfield (writing in The Psychology of Power)

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Life flows

Life……is essentially a current sent through matter, drawing from it what it can.

Henri Bergson, the French philosopher worked on three major areas of thought – duration, memory, and what he termed “élan vital”  – the vital tendency.

There’s a Life Force – not a “thing”, but real nevertheless.

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I’ve long held that a way of thinking about health is to use the concept of flow. When the various different aspects of our selves and our lives integrate in a coherent way we experience flow – good energy, good vitality, strength, the feeling of being alive (there are many ways to describe it)


I recently came across an interesting expansion of this idea when I read “Mindsight” by Dan Siegel (ISBN 978-0553804706).
He describes health as being like a flowing river and he says the river has two banks, either of which we tend to drift towards as we become unwell.
One bank is rigidity, and the other is chaos.

It’s true. We can see that in some illnesses we are stuck, caught in loops, trapped in ever decreasing circles which shrink our world. What should be flowing has become solidified, sluggish, frozen, or blocked.
In complexity terms, this kind of pattern exists around “point attractors”. You’ll be familiar with point attractors in the universe; they are the black holes which suck everything into them. Nothing escapes.
In other illnesses everything seems to fall to pieces, life itself falls apart and we find ourselves lost, or overwhelmed with confusion. We don’t know who we are, or where we are, and we don’t know how to find a way out.
In complexity terms, this kind of patterns exists as a “chaos attractor”, a zone of chaos where there are no clear patterns but which somehow maintains itself.

Which of the patterns are most familiar to you?



or Chaos?

sea path

Healing involves a release from these states – from rigidity, or chaos, to flow.

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