What is the universe up to?

On the first day of training in Imago therapy Maya Kollman characterised a couple relationship as “A microcosm of the universe trying to repair itself.” In different words psychodrama includes the same idea, the therapeutic tele is in the group, not in the director.

And there is qualitative evidence for this… A group, or a couple, once the connection is established and there is a warm up, will hum its way to more and more enabling solutions. I see it so clearly in psychodrama groups – each drama assists the whole group in a quest that is finally resolved. The terminology of ‘disturbing motive’ and ‘reactive fear’ is used to describe this process. Even this naming implies that it is the ‘disturbing motive’ that arises first and the the ‘reactive fear’ is simply the obstacles of the cultural conserve that need to get out of the way. CC is a term from the Canon of creativity

An earlier post is grappling with the same idea. http://psyberspace.walterlogeman.com/2018/the-survival-dance-that-gets-in-the-way-of-the-encounter/

There is a layer of conserved coping that is somehow “man made”, the reactive fear, which is usually followed by flight or fight i.e. Criticism and blaming or avoidance. There is another layer – the universe trying to heal itself. Lets just call it eros or love. Gt the crap out of the way and the love will come through.

We just need to get out of the way.

Both psychodrama and Imago have the philosophy that the therapist is the catalyst, simply providing a few tools, like dialogue, or the 5 instruments so the eros can emerge.

Dialectical materialism is similar. There is a striving in the world call it God if you are so inclined or as Marx & Engles did – call it nature. Things turn into their opposites. Slavery was the means of creating the time for some to create civilisation. Then slavery becomes the antithesis of civilisation.

I’m reflecting on the relationship between letting it happen and making it happen.

The inevitable can be helped along.

We are agents in the healing of the universe. I.e. In its progress. Towards eros.

We can make it worse or better. If this is a dead end it will procede towards the omega point in some other way. The univese does not care, but it wont stop its evolution, its development, its progress. Thes words are telelogical.

We make history but under conditions of our choosing.

Surfing. We can but catch a wave or miss it.

Anyway, if we assume that a group or a couple is “A microcosm of the universe trying to repair itself.” then we are assistants to that process.

Thats what marxists are too.

Strange that the right wo advocate market forces somehow believe in the benign power of the market. Leave alone. Marxists might trust the market too if it was alive in a society that was free of the distortions of the capitalists. It would tend towards each to his needs. Just like in couple therapy – in my room I have to be a strong dictatorship of the erso forces. We fight the cultural conserves (part of the current cultural forces) of blame – attack and control.

See more search the Tag – theory of change http://psyberspace.walterlogeman.com/tag/theory-of-change/

The Survival Dance that gets in the way of the Encounter

The title of this post comes from Hedy Schleifer’s ECcT – Encounter Centred Couple Therapy. On her website she says:

“I want them to leave knowing that the “survival dance” that they have been dancing for such a long time is “not” who they are in their essence.”

She also calls it “from coping to living”

EFT – Emotionally Focussed Couple Therapy – has a similar concept – http://www.drsilvinairwin.com/what-is-eft/

“EFT sees distress in relationships as centered in the loss of secure emotional connection, and that a negative cycle or “dance” is established when that loss of connection is experienced. These cycles are often characterized by anger, criticism, leaving, or appearing indifferent, to name a few. Once established, these cycles can crop up over the slightest issue, and over time be corrosive to the bonds of trust and security in the relationship. EFT aims to help couples stop these negative cycles by first identifying and mapping out this cycle, then helping couples identify and articulate their needs and clarify their emotional signals in a way that helps their partner to have greater understanding, compassion and responsiveness.”

Imago Relationship Therapy has the same philosophy. It comes to it this way:

“Our essential state is that of relaxed joyfulness and empathic connection.

… we protect ourselves with maximizing and/or minimizing defenses and also block the expression of our basic functioning (thinking, feeling, sensing, and acting). These defenses disrupt the flow of our pulsating energy and disrupt our essential state of relaxation, joy, full aliveness, and connectedness.”

Karen Horney in Our Inner Conflicts – A CONSTRUCTIVE THEORY OF NEUROSIS – W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York 1945

“Compulsive drives are specifically neurotic; they are born of feelings of isolation, helplessness, fear and hostility, and represent ways of coping with the world despite these feelings; they aim primarily not at satisfaction but at safety; their compulsive character is due to the anxiety lurking behind them. Two of these drives—neurotic cravings for affection and for power—stood out at first in clear relief and were presented in detail in The Neurotic Personality.”

Gottman. https://cdn.gottman.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/The-Four-Horsemen.pdf

The four horseman of the apocalypse – same idea, there are coping strategies that lead to disaster:

“Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling.”

In Psychodrama role theory covers all of the above – we identify the coping getalt of roles. Roles are a full description of functioning in the moment and incorporates thought feeling and action.


I’m reflection on “essence”. If we get the coping out of the way will “who they are in essence” just come to the fore. Or does spontaneity require learning, just as coping does?

Is encounter and spontaneity something that requires training?

Pace Layer Thinking : Theory of Change

Pace Layers Thinking: Paul Saffo and Stewart Brand @ The Interval — January 27, 02015

Wonderful podcast. Great exposition of an idea that came through looking at houses and then could be generalised.

The thinking applies to design as well as social change.

The image gives the idea:


I think of other theories of change:

Needs more explaining but has broad application W = warm-up


And then there is Dialectics. Not to be dismissed. Hegelian and then Marxist.

Coevolution, invention, creation of the psyche – the relational paradigm

There is a flow in the evolution process.

Grass had to exist before grazing animals could evolve, they in turn had to precede carnivores.

These examples perhaps are best expressed in the principle of the “next adjacent possible”.

A brief digression: I recently ran across a novel way to think about this question. In evolutionary theory, there’s a concept called the “adjacent possible,” coined by scientist Stuart Kauffman.

From this blog.

The “adjacent possible” refers to the change that’s available to you — i.e. adjacent, next door – versus the change that’s not.

Screen Shot 2012 10 07 at 1 24 29 PM

From Stuart A. Kauffman — Reinventing The Sacred Amazon

The process is holistically connected to the mutual adaptations in each species. Grasses develop ways to survive grazing. Herbivores evolve capacity to run, and carnivores develop sharper teeth and claws.

This idea is sometimes captured with the phrase co-evolution (Wikipedia):

In biology, coevolution is “the change of a biological object triggered by the change of a related object.”[1] Coevolution can occur at many biological levels: it can be as microscopic as correlated mutations between amino acids in a protein, or as macroscopic as covarying traits between different species in an environment. Each party in a coevolutionary relationship exerts selective pressures on the other, thereby affecting each other’s evolution.

Earlier post exaptation, a related concept.

I’m imagining this whole process as envisage the world of the psyche. The changing nature of how we relate to our being. Everything from collective rituals, art, monks meditating in a cave, group therapy, psychoanalysis, conjoint family week and couple therapy.

The investigations above, summed up as:

  • Adjacent possible
  • Coevolution
  • Exaptation

Imagine how these apply to the coevolution/invention/creation of the psyche.

(Why I say evolution/invention/creation is evident from this post about psyche this post about the nature of the psyche, about how it is not a thing, yet not nothing either, is relevant.)

Freud was before Jung. The idea of an unconscious and a method of working with it that was possible in the world was available to Freud as a medical clinician.

Moreno was in part a reaction to Freud. Group therapy and conjoint therapy was possible.

Moreno and Buber had found or invented an idea about the nature of the person being in the relationship.

Hendrix is pioneering the ice that being is relationship.

The relational paradigm is the now a niche that has opened, a shift in the culture and new ways of attending the the psyche are possible.

Moreno’s idea that this could well transform science is also on the cards as an I-Thou relationship with things is also possible according to Buber.

Exaptation – copy & paste in the evolution of tech and culture

Just got a name for something I have grasped for a long time. I used to call it accidental by products of evolution, and had this idea when I was doing biology aged 15. EG the piano is a by product of the evolution of fingers. We as humans have gone beyond what was biologically fittest, accidental by-products just heaped upon themselves and interacted with each other to enable creativity and consciousness.

From What Technology wants by Kevin Kelly page 50: “These inadvertent anticipatory inventions are called exaptations in biology.”

“Exaptation is a term used in evolutionary biology to describe a trait that has been co-opted for a use other than the one for which natural selection has built it.”

“It is a relatively new term, proposed by Stephen Jay Gould and Elisabeth Vrba in 1982 to make the point that a trait’s current use does not necessarily explain its historical origin. They proposed exaptation as a counterpart to the concept of adaptation.

For example, the earliest feathers belonged to dinosaurs not capable of flight. So, they must have first evolved for something else. Researchers have speculated early feathers may have been used for attracting mates or keeping warm. But later on, feathers became essential for modern birds’ flight.

It is a relatively new term, proposed by Stephen Jay Gould and Elisabeth Vrba in 1982 to make the point that a trait’s current use does not necessarily explain its historical origin. They proposed exaptation as a counterpart to the concept of adaptation.

For example, the earliest feathers belonged to dinosaurs not capable of flight. So, they must have first evolved for something else. Researchers have speculated early feathers may have been used for attracting mates or keeping warm. But later on, feathers became essential for modern birds’ flight.

(Perry, 2013)

In the evolution of technology and culture it is all exaptation. The reason is that the basis of tech and cultural evolution are not genetic, the information is carried by social means. Thus nothing goes extinct, and all innovations can be resurrected. In other words we can cut and paste to make new things, that process is far faster and more efficient than evolution in the biological sphere. Sexual reproduction is a form of cut & paste, but still far more primitive than what we can do with our inventions.

For example: Id love to graft the Graffiti handwriting system from the dead Palm onto a current smartphone.


Parry, Wynne. (2013, September 16). Exaptation: How evolution uses what’s available. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from http://www.livescience.com/39688-exaptation.html