by Gerald Schueler

The Order/Chaos Relationship in Complex Systems


One of the important findings of modern chaos theory is that seeds of order seem to be embedded in chaos, while seeds of chaos are apparently embedded in order. Systems that are stable in relation to their environment can become unstable. Systems that are unstable can return to stability. Another important finding is that the behavior of a system in stability and its behavior after becoming unstable are acausal. These findings can be transposed to Jungian psychology by assuming the psyche to be a dynamic dissipative system as defined in chaos theory. The psyche functions in our causal space-time continuum via the conscious ego, but also functions in a psychic continuum which is wholly unconscious to the ego. Events that intercept both continuums are acausal and are said to be synchronistic. This paper investigates the relationship between the conscious ego (order) and the personal and collective unconscious (chaos). It proposes that Jung's personal unconscious is a psychological 'edge of chaos,' a psychic region of complexity bridging the acausal gap between the collective unconscious and the conscious ego.


Webster's dictionary (1988) defines chaos as "the disorder of formless matter and infinite space, supposed to have existed before the ordered universe", and "extreme confusion or disorder." In terms of systems, chaos is a state space (the condition of any system at a given time) where a system exhibits disorder, confusion, uncertainty, or instability. The dictionary defines order as "a fixed or definite plan; system; law of arrangement." In terms of systems, order is a state space where a system exhibits clarity, certainty, or stability. Chaos and order can be considered polar opposites. We can go even farther here because, according to Çambel (1993), order and chaos, or determinism and chance, are like two sides of the same coin, and contrary to traditional thinking, there is no cause-and-effect relationship between the two (p. 21).

Webster's dictionary (1988) defines a system as "a group of things or parts connected in some way so as to form a whole." A system is also, "the body, or a number of bodily organs functioning as a unit." Modern thermodynamics teaches that there are three basic kinds of systems: isolated, closed, and open (Çambel, 1993, pp. 41-43). Isolated systems are those which are totally independent of their environment (these exist only in the laboratory). Closed systems are closed to matter (no matter may pass through the boundaries of the system) but are open to energy and information. Open systems are dependent on environment. Matter, energy, and information may pass through the boundaries of open systems.

Most dynamic systems, and all living systems, are open. Our body, for example, is an open system (Atkins, 1984, p. 179). Modern chaos theory addresses complex systems, which are systems with a large number of interrelated parts. It also addresses dynamic systems. There are two main types of dynamic systems: discrete and continuous. Every complex system, and especially every living system (living systems are ususally refered to as self-organizing systems) is also a dissipative structure. Ilya Prigogine won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1977 for his work on dissipative structures, which he defined as any structure that takes on and dissipates energy as it interacts with its environment. A dissipative system, unlike one that conserves energy, gives rise to irreversible processes (Nicolis & Prigogine, 1989). All systems that exhibit disequilibrium and self-organization are dissipative and have a dissipative structure (Briggs and Peat, 1989, p. 138). Thus, not only our physical body itself is such a structure, but every organ and cell as well. The term itself expresses a paradox, because dissipative suggests falling apart or chaos, while structure suggests organization and order. Dissipative systems are those which are able to maintain identity only because they are open to flows of energy, matter, or information from their environments (Prigogine and Stengers, 1984).

Not only is our body a dissipative system, but our ego as well. The Swiss psychologist, C.G. Jung, designated the ego as an ego-complex because of the numerous components and processes with which it is comprised. He taught that the components of the ego-complex are held together by the gravitational force of their relation to consciousness (Pascal, 1992).

The ego, the subject of consciousness, comes into existence as a complex quantity which is constituted partly by the inherited disposition (character constituents) and partly by unconsciously acquired impressions and their attendant phenomena ... Analytical psychology differs from experimental psychology in that ... it is far more concerned with the total manifestation of the psyche as a natural phenomenon - a highly complex structure ... (Jung, 1954, p . 91, 92).

For Jung, the structure of the psyche, of which the ego is but one component, is not static but dynamic (Jacobi, 1973). Kast (1992) writes that "To Jung, the psyche, like the living body, is a self-regulating system" (p. 5). From the foregoing, it seems reasonable to assume that the principles of chaos theory that relate to complex dynamical systems should be applicable to the ego and psyche as described by Jung. Abraham (1994) would go even further. He asserts that chaos theory is applicable to the holistic unity of the mind, brain, behavior, and environment, and that none should be examined as a separate entity but rather "their mutually interactive and complex processes comprise an organic entity" (p. 85).

A Brief History of Chaos Theory.

Kellert (1993) defines chaos theory as "the qualitative study of unstable aperiodic behavior in deterministic nonlinear dynamical systems" (p. 2). Chaos theory was formulated during the 1960s. Its story is one of many people--scientists who dared to think along new and unsuspected channels. The name chaos was coined by Jim Yorke, an applied mathematician at the University of Maryland (Ruelle, 1991, p. 67).

In 1961, Edward Lorentz discovered the butterfly effect. He was trying to forecast the weather. He was running a long series of computations on a computer when he decided he needed another run. Rather than do the entire run again, he decided to save some time by typing in some numbers from a previous run. Later, when he looked over the printout, he found an entirely new set of results. The results should have been the same as before. After thinking about this unexpected result, he discovered that the numbers he typed in had been slightly rounded off. In principle, this tiny difference in initial conditions should not have made any difference in the result, but it did. From this, Lorentz determined that long-distant weather forecasts are impossible. Tiny differences in weather conditions on any one day will show dramatic differences after a few weeks, and these differences are entirely unpredictable. Although Lorentz's discovery was an accident, it planted the seed for the new theory of chaos.

Mathematicians have known about nonlinearity since Henri Poincaré at the turn of this century. Nonlinear equations have been around for a long time, but no one was able to solve them, and traditional scientists and engineers simply ignored all nonlinear portions of their calculations. Most equations that attempt to predict the actions of nature or natural materials are close approximations rather than exact. They contain one or more factors of nonlinearity. These are typically ignored, or approximated by using constants (in the engineering community, such constants are sometimes called fudge factors). But several courageous scientists were so intrigued with chaos, that they began to do research into both nonlinearity and turbulence. However, according to Gleick (1987), they were warned by their supervisors and colleagues that such research could cost them their respectability and thus their careers.

Chaos was not a science, or even a cohesive theory, at that time, but rather an untested discipline with no real experts. Early scientists in this area worked long and hard to develop their thoughts and findings into a publishable, and acceptable, form. New terms were needed. Above all, a new way of looking at the universe was required. Traditional scientists were hardly aware of the emerging science until most of the details had been worked out. Even then, some were strongly opposed to it. But, with the help of the home computer, chaos science grew until today it is an accepted scientific discipline in its own right.

What Lorentz did for weather, Robert May did for ecology. His work in the early 1970s helped pin down the concepts of bifurcation and period doubling. One of the foremost contributors to the new science was Benoit Mandelbrot. Using a home computer, Mandelbrot pioneered the mathematics of fractals, a term which he coined in 1975. His fractals helped describe or picture the actions of chaos, rather than explain it. Chaos and its workings could now be seen in color on a home computer. The striking principle he discovered was that many of the irregular shapes that make up the natural world, although seemingly random and chaotic in form, have a simple organizing principle (Stwertka, 1987, p. 73). A new geometry of chaos was born.

In 1971, David Ruelle and Floris Takens described a phenomena they called a strange attractor. This strange phenomena was said to reside in what they called phase space and a whole new element of chaos theory was born. According to Ruelle (1991), his association of turbulence with a strange attractor was so revolutionary, he was not able to publish his paper, and finally published it himself. He writes, "Actually, I was an editor of the journal, and I accepted the paper for publication. This is not a recommended procedure in general, but I felt that it was justified in this particular case" (p. 63).

Phase space allows scientists to map information from complex systems, making a picture of their moving parts, and allowing insight into a dynamic system's possibilities. It is a mathematically constructed conceptual space where each dimension corresponds to one variable of the system (Kellert, 1993).

Another pioneer of the new science was Mitchell Feigenbaum. His work in the late 1970s was so revolutionary that several of his first manuscripts were rejected for publication because they were so novel, they were considered irreverent (Gleick, 1987). He discovered order in disorder. He looked deeply into turbulence (the home of strange attractors), and saw universality. He developed a method to measure turbulence and found a structure embedded in nonlinear systems, According to Gleick (1987), a mathematical proof of his ideas was presented in 1979 by Oscar E. Lawford III.

Feigenbaum showed that period doubling is the normal way that order breaks down into chaos. He calculated universal numbers which represent ratios in the scale of transition points that occur during the process of period doubling. These ratios are now called Feigenbaum numbers. Gleick (1987) mentions that Richard J. Cohen and his medical colleagues at MIT found that period doubling is associated with the onset of a heart attack. This finding brought chaos science into the domain of medical science.

By the mid 1970s, the movement toward chaos as a science was well underway and in 1977, the first conference on chaos theory was held in Italy. Perhaps the most startling finding to come out of this new scientific theory is that order exists within chaos. In fact, order comes from chaotic conditions. (For details on the history of chaos theory, see Gleick (1987).)

A Brief History of Complexity Theory.

The new scientific discipline, called complexity theory, looks at complex systems and their environments in much the same way as chaos theory. George Cowan founded the Santa Fe Institute, in New Mexico, in May 1984. Stephen Wolfram began the Center for Complex Systems at the University of Illinois, in 1986. Both organizations were founded to investigate complexity.

The Santa Fe institute is interdisciplinary, making use of economists, physicists, administrators, biologists, and mathematicians. All are working closely together, trying to find order in complex systems. They have defined complexity as "a chaos of behaviors in which the components of the system never quite lock into place, yet never quite dissolve into turbulence either" (Waldrop, 1992, p. 293). Complexity lies at the edge of chaos (the phrase edge of chaos was first used by Norman Packard in 1988) within the fine line that lies between order and chaos. Although this region is thin, it is vast, like the surface of the ocean. The edge of chaos is a transition phase, where life itself is thought to be created and sustained.

According to Waldrop (1992), Chris Langton at the Santa Fe Institute, proposed the following interesting equation: 

                                    order -> complexity -> chaos

The arrows in this equation (demonstrated for cellular automata and is likely to apply to other areas) are meant in the sense of phase transitions in the same way as ice can become water and then steam. A complexity phase was found to exist between order and chaos. Langton defined complexity as the line of balance, or transition point, between order and chaos, partaking of both. (For details on the history of complexity theory, see Waldrop (1992). For an introduction to the theory itself, see Nicolis and Prigogine (1989), and Gell-Mann (1994).) Nicolis and Prigogine (1989), for example, define complexity as the ability of a system "to switch between different modes of behavior as the environmental conditions are varied" (p. 218).

C.G. Jung.

Carl Gustav Jung was born on July 26, 1875, in Kesswil, Switzerland. He grew up in a religious family (his father was a Protestant minister). From an early age he decided on a career in medicine and he attended the University of Bashel. In 1900, when he was 25 years old, he became an assistant at the Burghölzli, Zurich's mental hospital. His doctoral thesis was a report of séances that he had observed during a two-year period. He soon turned to psychiatry and published a case history of an hysterical attack in 1902. Five years after from earning his medical degree, Jung was a senior staff member and director of a research laborary and held an academic appointment at a university. During the next five years, he was awarded an honorary degree from a foreign university (Clark) and was elected the first president of the International Psychoanalytic Association.

Jung's interest in dymentia and in the interpretation of dreams brought him to Sigmund Freud in 1907. At this time Freud's work was not accepted in academic circles, but Jung defended him vigorously, although he never accepted the strong sexual implications of Freud's teaching. In 1912, Jung realized that he had to break with Freud and strike out on his own. His separations from Freud, the Burghölzli, and the university, gave him more free time, and he used this to write several important works. He called this period a "confrontation with the unconscious," (Jung, 1961, p. 170) and from his highly personal experiences, he developed what he called analytical psychology.

In 1944, at the age of 69, Jung suffered a massive heart attack. He struggled for life for several weeks. After his recovery, he decided to follow his inner convictions no matter the consequences. The results were a flood of important manuscripts on the psychological aspects of alchemy, Gnosticism, and religion. He died in 1961, just as his work was becoming accepted throughout the world.

Much of Jung's discoveries and ideas came from his own experiences, through his personal dreams and visions. These are detailed in his autobiography (Jung, 1961). (For further details on his life and teachings, see Stern (1976), von Franz (1975), Hannah (1976), and Wehr (1985).)


According to Prigogine and Stengers (1984), "the models considered by classical physics seem to us to occur only in limiting situations such as we can create artificially by putting matter in a box and then waiting till it reaches equilibrium" (p. 9). Classical physics, then, makes too many assumptions. Matter in its natural state contains randomness and irreversibility. Chaos theory says that matter is not the passive substance of the mechanistic world view of our forefathers. Rather, it is spontaneously active. Deep within this random activity, is the creation of order.

According to Jung, individuation, the process of becoming whole, is a series of spontaneous psychic processes (Jung, 1959). In his view, life processes are "complicated and difficult .... in this respect, they may be compared with all other biological processes" (pp. 350-351). He was well aware that order can come from chaos. This, he claimed, was the purpose of the mandala:

"Experience shows that individual mandalas are symbols of order, and that they occur in patients principally during times of psychic disorientation or re-orientation. As magic circles they bind and subdue the lawless powers belonging to the world of darkness, and depict or create an order that tranforms the chao into a cosmos" (Jung, 1959/1978, pp. 32-33).

Chaos in our lives can be tranformed into order by the psychic process of drawing a mandala, a universal psychic symbol for order.

Quantum Foam--A Creative Matrix.

Nuclear particles are known to enfold and unfold in endless processes within their quantum fields. Elementary particles have self-referential iterations (repetitions) which create and/or destroy themselves from a vacuum state. According to modern quantum mechanics, there is no such thing as a vacuum. What was once considered a vacuum is now known to be seething with the creation and destruction of virtual particles. (Davies, 1984, p. 105).

Virtual particles cannot be detected directly, but scientists know them from their effects. They are born and they die so fast that they cannot be detected. In essence, they represent a quantum foam where chaos and order struggle together ceaselessly, the one coming out of the other, over and over, forever. Experimentalist, Willis Lamb, was actually able to measure the vacuum polarization in the vacuum between the electron and nucleus of the hydrogen atom. He measured a small change in the orbit of the electron due to the inherent background charge in what was previously thought to be empty space. His observations compared favorably to those calculated theoretically by using the equations of quantum electrodynamics (Pagels, 1982, p .277).

Modern science has discovered that chaos and cosmos exist together even at the quantum level. The quantum foam of science is comparable to the chaos of alchemy. Translating an alchemical work, Jung describes chaos as an "assortment of crude disordered matter .... [which nevertheless contains the] divine seeds of life" (Jung, 1953, pp. 144-145). This chaos-order relationship is also embedded in the Chinese symbol of yin-yang as shown in Figure 1 with a Jungian interpretation.

The Circle.

The perfect circle, a symbol for linearity and order, uses the Greek letter pi for its circumference as

circumference = (pi) x diameter

But, pi cannot be calculated exactly; it must always be rounded off and is therefore nonlinear. Pi is a chaotic number in the sense that it is undeterminable. For this reason, the circle is a good example of how chaos and order work together in perfect harmony (Peitgen, Jurgens, and Saupe, 1992, pp. 154-163).

Jung saw the circle as a mandala, "the psychological expression of the totality of the self" (Jung, 1959, p. 304). According to Jaffé (1964), the circle is also a symbol of the psyche, while the symbol for the body is a square. Like the circle, the psyche can exhibit both stable and unstable modes, and it includes both conscious and unconscious aspects as suggested by the yin-yang model in Figure 1.

Laminar Flow vs Turbulence.

The disorderly behavior of a simple system can act as a creative process. It can generate complexity. In this way complex systems can emerge from simple systems and forces of evolution can emerge directly from chaos. Suggestions of structure can be found in the midst of apparently random behavior. For an example, consider water flowing through a pipe. At low speeds, there is a nice smooth condition, which scientists call laminar flow. If we speed up the flow of the water, a critical point will be reached where the smooth conditions of the water will be given over to a chaotic one. At this point, laminar flow will transition into turbulence (in chaos theory, turbulence is a strange attractor which draws the orderly flowing water into chaos as velocity increases). Turbulence is often considered to be a purely random disorder or noise; however, such is the case only on the macroscopic level. At the microscopic level, turbulence appears highly organized. The behavior of the individual water molecules is quite coherent. For this reason, we can say that the transition from laminar flow to turbulence is an initiation of self-organization--it is the creation of order from chaos. It is a good example of how molecular order can be obtained from what we outwardly observe to be disorder (Prigogine and Stengers, 1984, p. 140).

In the same way that smoothly flowing water can become turbulent, so our lives can suddenly turn from orderly to chaotic. The psychological process of repression, for example, can allow unwanted thoughts and emotions to slowly build up in our personal unconscious until the demarcation line between conscious and unconscious can no longer hold it in. We repress something by forcing it from our conscious ego to the unconscious; however, repressed contents never die. Rather they fester and can interfere with our normal growth and development. According to Jung, "a repression has neurotic consequences, because the repressed affect still exists and simply makes an outlet for itself elsewhere, in some unsuitable place" (Jung, 1964, p. 340). 

The personal unconscious contains subliminal perceptions as well as psychic contents that were once conscious but which have been put aside by either repression or forgetting (Jacobi, 1943). It also contains the shadow, "a living part of the personality" which "cannot be argued out of existence or rationalized into harmlessness" (Jung, 1959, p. 20). Johnson (1991) calls the shadow the dark side of the psyche and says that should it develop more energy than the ego, it will erupt in us as an overpowering rage or depression. He says that "the shadow gone autonomous is a terrible monster in our psychic house" (p. 5). He also points out that the psyche must keep its equilibirium through control mechanisms as accurately as the body balances temperature, chemicals, and other parameters. The shadow acts as a control mechanism by balancing the ego. According to Johnson (1991), "the ego and the shadow come from the same source and exactly balance each other ... one cannot exist without the other" (p. 17).

The Benard Instability.

A good example of a dissipative structure is found with the Benard Instability. When a pan of water is heated so that a temperature gradient (i.e., a continuous temperature difference) exists--the water at the bottom of the pan will be hot while the water at the top will still be cool. At first, heat will travel upward smoothly in the heat-transfer process called conduction. When the gradient is increased, by turning up the heat, a critical point will be reached where conduction gives way to more drastic heat-transfer process called convection. When convection occurs, the rate of heat transfer will speed up. The entropy (a thermodynamic term which traditionally has been a measure of a system's energy, and today is also a measure of chaos) production will increase. The convection current, which includes an irregular production of bubbles as the water begins to boil, is a nonlinearity. However, it is actually a form of self-organization because the water molecules form what can be called hexagonally patterned convection cells which are orderly. This new pattern of self-organization is a typical example of a dissipative structure. A dissipative structure refers to the structure of an open system in which energy is added to the system in order to decrease entropy and maintain stability (Prigogine and Stengers, 1984, p. 142). Systems with dissipative structures are called dissipative systems.

Jung called psychic energy libido (Jung, 1959). Every psychic content is associated with libido. When a conscious content loses libido, it drops out of consciousness and enters the personal unconscious. According to Jacobi (1943),

Jung conceives the total psychic system as being in continuous dynamic movement. By psychic energy he means to be understood the totality of that force which pulses through and combines one with another all the forms and activities of this psychic system (p. 49).

He then points out that Jung uses the term libido in the same way that physics uses the term energy and that disturbances to its circulation lead to pathological phenomenon. The psyche, according to Jung's definition, is therefore a dissipative system.


Chaos theory demonstrates how order can be produced from chaos. The chaos that appears to exist on the macroscopic level (to our eyes) is order when seen at the molecular level (through a microscope).

Chaos theory also recognizes that systems can cascade toward chaos through a series of bifurcations. The Feigenbaum sequence (named after the physicist, Michael Feigenbaum, who discovered it) is a good example. In this sequence, for a range of parameter values, a system is orderly and has a period with a fixed value T. Beyond this range of values, the system is chaotic until the period reaches 2T (this is called period doubling). Beyond this value, chaos begins again until we reach another threshold--the system becomes orderly again when the period reaches 4T. This sequence can then be repeated at 8T, and so on. The system undergoes a series of bifurcations having successive period doubling. In this way we see incidents where order is sandwiched between chaos, and where chaos is sandwiched between order (Prigogine and Stengers, 1984, p. 169).

A bifurcation is a crisis point in the life of a system, in which the future of that system is uncertain. It is usually depicted as a fork in the time sequence of a system, in which a system can take two possible branches, one or both leading to chaos. All dynamic systems go through bifurcations, most of which are irreversible. The ego and psyche also undergo bifurcations, especially when attracted by an archetype of the collective unconscious. An archetype, acting as a strange attractor in the phase space of the psyche, can create an uncertain decision point for the psyche. The psyche must then either assimilate the experience or else exhibit neurotic behavior. According to Jacobi (1949), the consciousness of every human being is attracted by archetypes in the collective unconscious at one time or another else we must pay the penalty in the form of a neurosis.


In his On the Nature of the Psyche, Jung says that the psyche actually lies in an objective continuum, one parallel to our spacetime continuum, which he calls "a psychically relative

space-time continuum" (de Laszlo, 1959, pp. 98-101). In his Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, Jung, together with the physicist, Wolfgang Pauli, propose the model show in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Synchronicity Model Given by Jung and Pauli.

This model suggests that Jung's synchronicity, or meaningful coincidence, is acausal, and, like causality, unites energy with our spacetime continuum. Because we have already seen that chaos and order maintain an acausal relationship, we can rewrite Jung's model as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Synchronicity Model Showing Order and Chaos.

The vertical line of both models represents Einstein's famous equation, E=mc2 which mathematically relates energy and matter. The horizontal line of the second model expresses the relationship between order and chaos, which is similar in kind to the causality/sychronicity relationship in Jung's original model. According to Jung, since causality is not absolute, but rather is statistical, causality only holds true for averages while leaving room for exceptions to occur on an individual basis. These exceptions have to do with what Jung calls synchronicity (de Laszlo, 1958, p. 281). Consciousness can enter the psychic continuum where it can experience a synchronistic event, and then return to the physical spacetime continuum (via the vertical line of both models) where causality regains control. According to Jung (1964), this explains most reported ESP experiences.

A Model of the Ego.

In On the Nature of the Psyche, Jung says that both conscious and unconscious experiences are relative (de Laszlo, 1959, p. 58). It is the relativity of the unconscious that temps us to label one area as a subconscious and another as a superconscious. Jung refers to this relativity as a "scale of intensities of consciousness" (de Laszlo, 1959, p. 58). But one cannot have total consciousness or total unconsciousness in that each always carries with it the germ of the other. In the same way, nature has no complex systems that are totally orderly or totally chaotic, but all dissipative structures have differing degrees of both. We can see this graphically in Figure 4, a simplified model of the ego.

Figure 4. A Simplified Dynamic Model of the Psyche.

In this simplistic model, the ego is shown surrounded by the conscious and unconscious with a shifting line dividing the two areas. The arrows indicate the ability of the dividing line to move as we become aware of some unconscious contents, and forget or repress others.

Jung asserts that there is no clear demarcation line between the conscious and unconscious, "the one beginning where the other leaves off" (de Laszlo, 1959, p. 70). This terribly thin demarcation line is suggestive of the edge of chaos which is being investigated today in complexity theory. Jung then goes on to point out that the personal unconscious is, in fact, located at the "fringe of consciousness" which suggests an analogy between the personal unconscious and the regions of complexity at the edge of chaos. This analogy is strengthened when he says, "Our personal psychology is just a thin skin, a ripple on the ocean of collective psychology" (Jacobi , 1973, p. 39). Jung also points out that the ancient alchemists described, in very symbolic terms, the transformation of consciousness from, and the integration of consciousness with, the unconscious, which was viewed as "the spirit of the chaotic waters of the beginning." Their message was that consciousness needed to "return to chaos" and that "the spirit of chaos is indispensable to the work, and it cannot be distinguished from the 'gift of the Holy Ghost'" (Jung, 1963, p. 197). This idea can be understood in the light of modern chaos theory which asserts that order arises from chaos just as chaos arises from order. Both poles are necessary.

Figure 5. A Model of the Psyche.

Figure 5 shows another model of the ego in which the unconscious is divided into the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. According to Jung, (1959) the personal unconscious contains various complexes, while the collective unconscious contains archetypes. When we equate consciousness with order, and the unconscious with chaos, we can see from the model that our personal unconscious lies immediately between the two extremes. It is sandwiched between order and chaos, and therefore can be viewed as a region of complexity in which the relationships between order/conscious and chaos/ unconscious can best be seen. This is the realm of the imagination. The libido in the psyche manifests itself as images, and does so through the creative power of the imagination (Jacobi, 1943). The imagination produces images from unconscious contents and provides them to the ego where they become conscious. In this way, the imagination in the personal unconscious serves as a transmitter which "commutes the chaos of the unconscious contents into pictorialized manifestations" (Jacobi, 1943, p. 56).

The significance or meaning attributed to any image depends upon its value intensity or level of libido.


Life includes both chaos and order. Our lives consist of a continuous series of good and bad experiences as evidenced by the modern concept of biorhythms. This is true whether we are male or female, young or old, and is irrespective of our race or religious convictions. The two interrelated concepts of chaos and order describe the complex nature of our physical universe as one of chaotic order. And we, too, embody chaotic order. In other words, we are ruled alternately, and indiscriminately, by chaos and by order. We cannot get away from this relationship, but rather must somehow learn to deal with it. When our lives are going as planned, we can usually expect chaos to show up at some point, in one form or another. Perhaps it will rain when we want to do some work outside, or perhaps our car will have a flat tire on the way to an evening in town. The important thing is how we meet this chaos and react to it. According to the findings of chaos theory, times of chaos (i.e., those unplanned, unexpected, and usually unwanted, events that occur to all of us) can be creative. If we look hard, perhaps we can find the new order within the chaos and be better for it.

According to complexity theory, life is created and sustained at the very edge of chaos. By analogy with Jungian psychology, our personal unconscious stands between the chaotic forces of the unconscious and the orderly forces of the conscious, partaking of, and being influenced by, both spheres. In this way, both our bodies and our minds are delicately sandwiched between chaos and order, and between causality and synchronicity. The Nobel prize winner, Murray Gell-Man (1994), summarizes that for a living system (what he calls a complex adaptive system) to function, conditions must be intermediate between order and chaos.

In his Psychological Aspects of the Mother Archetype, Jung (1959) echoes the Greek concept of syzygies and says, "there is no consciousness without discrimination of opposites.... [and] nothing can exist without its opposite" (Jung, 1959, p. 96). It is up to us to find the creative vitality that lies within mundane day-to-day existence, and it is up to us to find the peaceful stability that lies within the frantic pace of modern life.

Jung's idea of a psychic continuum, which amounts to additional dimensions, is reasonable in light of modern physics. Kaku (1994), for example, says that "a growing realization among scientists today is that any three-dimensional theory is "too small" to describe the forces that govern our universe" (p. 12). He points out that modern superstring theory proposes ten dimensions: the four dimensions of spacetime, and six which are somehow 'rolled up' and invisible to us and collectively called hyperspace. What parallels may exist between the hyperspace of physics and the psychic continuum of psychology remains to be seen. However, it is interesting that both physics and psychology are discovering that our physical spacetime universe is simply not big enough to account for all reported phenomena. Living systems are too complex to be completely explained by physical laws. Our world is not a mechanical clock, and we, as complex human beings, are more than our physical bodies.


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