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Van Eenwyk, J. (1991). Archetypes: The Strange Attractors of the Psyche. J. Anal. Psychol., 36(1):1-25.

(1991). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36(1):1-25

Archetypes: The Strange Attractors of the Psyche

J. R. Van Eenwyk, Ph.D., M.Div

You don't see something until you have the right

metaphor to let you perceive it.

Robert Stetson Shaw

Consider the statement: Healthy systems don't want homeostasis. They want chaos, which appeared recently in Science (Pool 18, p. 604). While echoing a major point of controversy between Jung and Freud, it advances a theory based on three premises. First, flexibility depends on choices. Second, chaos offers more choices than order. Finally, to the degree that adaptation requires flexibility, chaos becomes essential for growth. In short, where stability is a product of adaptation, chaos's contribution rivals that of order. Deceptively simple, these three premises are revolutionising the way researchers look at phenomena.

Understanding chaotic - or complex - dynamics is greatly facilitated by visualising them. Imagine, for example, what it would be like to watch a ten kilometre race in a stadium enshrouded by fog. Realising that it is impossible to view the race from an overall perspective, you decide to stand near the start and finish line, expecting to view the contestants at the start, the finish, and as they emerge from the fog on each lap. Two contestants, known to be virtually evenly matched, shake off their nervousness as they anticipate dogging one another's heels throughout the race. And then the start. All seems normal, but by the end of the first lap events have taken a decidedly bizarre turn. Each time the pack makes its way past your vantage point, some marathoners are inexplicably absent. At other times the absent ones reappear, but others formerly present are missing. Most incredibly, some contestants emerge from the fog running in the opposite direction. Even the two evenly-matched contestants, who began the race side by side, are by now nowhere near one another.

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