Albert Einstein And Psychology
Since the understanding of thermodynamics physicists have come to the conclusion that energy cannot be lost. It can only be transformed. With the upcoming research on system theory as an interdisciplinary field, striking all kinds of bridges even to psychological research, it is described that the main “goal” of every system is stability.
If a system loses stability it will stabilize itself through some form of compensation by balancing the energy transformation or flow in the system.
When Sigmund Freud described his idea of conversion which led to psychosomatic symptoms he assumed that there would be a mistake in the energy transformation process. A person that could not bear the reality of a certain conflict would turn blind in order to not have to see whatever triggers the emotional pain. By suppressing emotional energy, because the reality of the conflict had to be denied or the client would turn crazy, the energy would still be transformed into a somatic symptom. In this case: blindness.
Wilhelm Reich, a pupil of his, tried to follow up on the idea but could not verify his hypothesis. His experiments could not withstand a proper evaluation of the mechanisms through Albert Einstein which he deemed to be unscientific.
The basic idea was that a hidden conflict between the biological drive and the conscience would reside in the unconscious (sub-conscious is to be understood as common language and not a psychological technical term) of a human being.
While Freud reduced the biological drive to sexuality since most of his clients where part of the high society in Wien and would rather voice issues concerning their sexuality than having problems that would threaten their survival.
Concerning the sexually unliberated society of the time it might be understandable that a lot of mental issues were expressed through sexual symptoms. This has been criticized in the past. Pupils of Freud have raised questions concerning the reduction to sexual energy since Freud had a limited clientele (one critic for example: Jacob Levy Moreno who also worked with poor people and children).
But the basic idea remains: If we form the hypothesis that emotions are energy and try to understand psychopathological symptoms as a mistake in the energy transformation process a door to interesting possibilities has been opened.
Thoughts and emotions are biochemical processes (neuro transmitters, f. e. adrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, GABA, noradrenaline) and electrical potentials in our brains that follow the law of physics by converting energy into matter and matter into energy. Our brains strive for stability not unlike a planetary system might achieve homeostasis by bowing to the law of gravity and creating orbits in which the planets can reside trapped between their momentum and the mass of a bigger object like a star. Homeostasis is the self-regulation mechanism of any known system.
Everything is a system:
Galaxies, planetary systems, ecosystems, states, societies, universities, schools, families and people themselves are systems.
Ironically brains are the most complex systems in existence as far as we know. They have the highest organized form of complex matter in the universe. Compared to the human brain the universe is much simpler.
While in our bodies bacteria, cells and neurons communicate on a highly organized level the basic principle remains untouched. We strive for homeostasis (self-regulation) which equals a stabilized condition.
Every system achieves this condition through compensation.
Bear with me for a minute. Let me redefine the term compensation. While compensation has a widely negative connotation I want to use the term objectively. Getting drunk in a bad marriage is also a way of compensation by trying to treat ones symptoms through stimulating the brains GABA receptors in order to create a temporal balance in the brains neurotransmitter system. The term compensation in itself is not a judgment. That is of high significance.
Compensation as an energy transformation process can take all kind of forms:
Listening to music, doing sports, meditation, using drugs responsibly, talking to your loved ones, creativity, having sex, watching movies, playing games, getting inspired through art or philosophy are a way of compensation that lead to balance. The more you feel at ease, they more likely you have achieved a state of mind that has less energy fluctuations or simpler put: Less extreme emotions.
Lower energy systems in physics have the highest stability.
If you are a high energy system you got to find ways of compensating in a healthy manner.
People diagnosed with borderline personality disorder have not learned to regulate their emotions by developing methods of healthy compensation and rely heavily on acting out emotions in an extreme and often harmful way. They are victims to their unconscious being triggered by all kinds of stimuli.
Energy that is not consciously directed will have influence through the unconscious. Since emotions are energy it is important to express them. Expression is the opposite of Depression.
Albert Ellis and the defragmentation of reality
Albert Ellis developed his well-known method called rational-emotive therapy. His understanding of human suffering was mainly focused on our thoughts that would judge our subjective reality. He understood thought processes as internal stimuli that would directly influence emotional reactions. As follows: “We are not scared of things but of the opinions we have of them.” (school of the stoics, Greek philosophy)
A. Activating Event
B. (irrational) belief system
A. A student who does not believe in his ability receives a bad test result.
B. “I am a loser I might as well not exist.”
The student deducts A leads to C. But that is false. He is unaware of B his own belief system that he has learned through socialization. This belief system has been told to him since he was a child by parents, the school system, culture and media. These convictions lie deep in our unconscious and fool us into believing they are our own individual believes. Most suffering that is not related to physical health issues can be connected to our brains judgment. The bad test result does not lead to depression. In itself it is just an event. But the belief that the result has direct implications on the self-value of the student is a construct. Without that construct:
A. failing test
(B. self-devaluation) Not happening
C. will not come to pass.
Judgment by our belief system narrows our possibilities to react to an event. If we understand that our subjective judgment focuses only on a few or only one perspective of reality we will not be determined by our past.
In the case of the student the belief “I am a loser” (for example mobbing in school, dominant controlling parental figures) is a form of mental abuse that
occurred during his upbringing. In order to not remember the traumatic incidents the brain censors the memory of the traumatic event. Mental injury in childhood can lead to aggression. But since a child’s survival is dependent on his parents’ affection and supply of food he can only blame himself. Thus he might suppress the aggression and turn it inwards leading to the conviction of not being valuable.
The suppression of feelings could have been a survival trade to keep the own system stabilized. But when he becomes an adult this strategy is obsolete. It is not efficient anymore. The system outside the student has changed. Depression is not a successful survival trade anymore. The key is to accept the trauma. Reintegrate it into his memory and changing the construct associated with it.
Let’s play a game.
For once let us assume there is no judgment of reality and we try to understand the world as an endless system with an unlimited number of systems within it. They are all trying to stabilize themselves through compensation (energy flow & energy transformation), adapting to the outside influences of other systems. The energy flows between systems can be objectively observed.
Suddenly the spectrum of possible realities broadens drastically. If there is no judgment, only energy: How do you want to transform energy to create your reality that is neither right or wrong, nor good or bad? And what does that mean for you?
If constructs (or even dogmas) like capitalism, religion, gay & lesbian, hetero, rich & poor, beautiful, ugly, liberal, conservative, good people or evil people do not create a paradox that can’t be solved but are merely seen as social groups that interpret reality in a certain way in order to compensate and relief their suffering as a result of instability, why do we still believe in a fragmented reality?
If I compensate by buying a car or going to church, having sex or taking drugs, why do I believe my reality is different or truer than the reality of others?
It is the same universal truth hidden in different constructs with different labels. A construct reduces the reality to one form of interpretation.
By letting go of constructs, reality is not fragmented. It is one.
An example concerning psychology theory:
While a symptom in deep psychology is to be seen as the indicator for a subconscious conflict that is described as neurosis, cognitive behavioral therapist would describe these symptoms as a result of mal adaptive behavior. Basically: A survival strategy that has been learned early on, but is futile in its adaptation to a new situation and therefore leads to suffering.
But mal adaptive behavior that is not reflected on is unconscious and therefore also an unconscious conflict.
Both principles describe the same phenomenon with a different terminology.
Viktor Frankl and Symptom Prescription
The founder of logotherapy Viktor Frankl developed the idea of symptom prescription. In order to get pass a patient’s resistance to possibilities of change he would prescribe them their symptoms.
A lot of clients would try to solve their issues by a solution of the first order.
A solution of the first order might looks this:
“I need to sleep to be well rested at work. That’s why I need to sleep early. I need to sleep now. I have to sleep. Why can’t I sleep?” – resulting in insomnia
“I need to pass this exam. That’s why I need to learn more. I need to learn now, why can’t I learn?” – resulting in depression
A lot of times a solution of the first order would not work or even create the problem in the first place by creating a mental downward spiral. Being
conscious about what “had” (B – belief system; construct) to be done the clients would block themselves.
A symptom prescription would be a solution of the second order and look like this:
“I should not fall asleep. I will keep my eyes open.” – resulting in falling asleep
“I don’t have to learn anything. It is okay if I am not disciplined.” – resulting in new found motivation
If the client cannot follow the prescribed symptom he will find himself doing these tasks willingly. He is not forced by his B – belief system to do these tasks anymore, which would lead to a blockade of emotional energy and feed the downward spiral, now it is his own choice to so.
The energy has been transformed to an upward spiral.
What is truly remarkable about Viktor Frankl is his personal history. Being a Jewish psychiatrist during World War Two he had been imprisoned in the concentration camps and lost his whole family to the holocaust. Still this man walks into the world creates his own theory of psychotherapy and teaches us one thing: There is no fate, nor destiny that in which the human being cannot choose his own personal reason to exist and thus transforming a personal tragedy into a success story.
The Rogers Paradox
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”
This quote from Carl Rogers, the creator of client centered therapy, describes the paradox therapists encounter during their work. The moment clients learn
to appreciate themselves, do not judge themselves cruelly anymore and can even integrate their most shameful traumatic experiences into their consciousness and accept them, then they are bound to grow as human beings. You might even call it transcendence.
If we now revisit the basic ideas of system theory and understand these patients as systems in a system we might want to change his quote a little bit:
‘The curious paradox is that when I accept this world just as it is, then I can change it.’
The moment of transcendence when reality is not merely perceived through the filter of constructs that are used to protect us from ourselves, the moment where we perceive our symptoms as misguided energy that we learned to compensate in a less optimal way and leave the judgment out of the equation, we might come to the conclusion that we are not as separated from the world as we might have believed.
Again: Our brains are the most complex organization of matter in the universe (Harald Lesch, astrophysicist). The meaning it inherits is that we are the conscious universe that is aware of its own existence (Neil de Grasse Tyson, astrophysicist).
You are not only you, I am not only me.
We are the universe.
And if we change ourselves we change the universe in itself. But first, it might help to accept it, just as it is.
Defragment what we believe to be reality and understand it as one.
Einstein’s equation showed us that matter is a form of transformed energy, everything is energy in transformation.
While physics is about to overthrow the dogma of reductionism, we might as well stop reducing us and the societies around us. If we want to be connected instead of disconnected, the first step could be to unlearn what we have learned about the idea, that we as individuals are separated from others and that our beliefs are bound to cause this separation. Our beliefs are neither right nor wrong. They are perspectives on the same reality we all perceive. Every perception of reality is subjectively true without making another perception untrue. They all seek to balance us.
They are just not doing it efficient enough.
©by Julian M. Polzin