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Piers, C. (2013). A Complex Systems Sensibility: The Contribution of Philip Bromberg. Contemp. Psychoanal., 49(3):437-452.
    

(2013). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 49(3):437-452

A Complex Systems Sensibility: The Contribution of Philip Bromberg

Craig Piers, Ph.D.

Philip Bromberg's seminal and highly influential theory of self-states will be addressed from the perspective of complex systems theory. In his writing about self-states, Bromberg makes explicit links to several of the ideas and concepts arising from the complex systems literature, including his discussion of the nonlinear and discontinuous nature of self-state transitions. In this article, I will draw parallels not directly taken up by Bromberg. First, I will discuss the fundamental dynamics and properties of Bromberg's theory of mind in terms of control and order parameters. Second, I will point out the relationship between Bromberg's self-states and configurations of self-states to the concepts of attractors and attractor landscapes. Third, I will use the concept of hysteresis to understand Bromberg's discussion of the proactive and protective function of “not-me” self-states.

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