Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cloe Madanes - The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People

I like Cloe Madanes, although I really don't use any of her therapeutic tools. Along with her ex-husband, Jay Haley, Madanes created the strategic model in family and brief therapies.
Strategic family therapy seeks to address specific problems that can be addressed in a shorter time frame than other therapy modalities. It is one of the major models of both family and brief psychotherapy. Jay Haley of the The Strategic Family Therapy Center says that it is known as Strategic Therapy because "it is a therapy where the therapist initiates what happens during therapy, designs a specific approach for each person's presenting problem, and where the therapist takes responsibility for directly influencing people."
Since 2002, Madanes has worked with Tony Robbins to train strategic interventionists in finding solutions to interpersonal conflicts, to prevent violence, and to contribute to the creation of a more cohesive and civil community. Their organization is called the Council for the Human Rights of Children (co-sponsored by the University of San Francisco), which applies the insights of Strategic Intervention for the protection and healthy upbringing of at-risk children. They also operate the The Robbins-Madanes Center for Strategic Intervention.

Anyone who works to protect at-risk children is cool in my book (currently unwritten).

In this article from Psychotherapy Networker (reprinted at Alternet), Madanes outlines 14 ways to really make yourself as miserable as possible. Obviously (or not so), this is what strategic therapists refer to as a paradoxical intervention (tell someone to do the opposite of what you want them to do - but NEVER do this with trauma survivors).

I agree that most of these are very strategic ways to make yourself miserable - and who doesn't enjoy some robust misery now and then?

However, I am not in favor of 9. Blame Your Parents. While, sure, this is an easy and inexpensive way to make yourself miserable (in that it's easy to get stuck in perceiving oneself as a victim, which is a GREAT way to get miserable), there are many instances where we might be honestly and beneficially attribute some of our "issues" to our parents . . . .because we did not get a nurturing, loving, supportive upbringing (i.e., physical or emotional neglect; substance abuse issues; verbal, physical, sexual abuse; domestic violence; and so on). A great many - likely most - adult mental health issues (not due to organic causes) can be attributed directly to relational dysfunction in the family-of-origin.

BUT (there's always a but), while making the connection and seeing the patterns is crucial to healing the wounds, blaming the parents is a dead-end street (barring sexual, physical, or emotional violence or extreme neglect). No human being is perfect, and no adult escapes childhood without some wounds (which is why we talk about inter- and transgenerational trauma). Based on what we know right now, neurobiological explanations suggest that the trauma is transferred to offspring unintentionally and unconsciously.

A related topic here is the connection between adverse experiences in childhood and later physical illness such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, substance abuse, psychiatric diagnoses, and many others. 

These connections have been elucidated by the Adverse Childhood Experiences Scale (ACES), which looks at a person's life prior to age 18 and asks yes/no questions for the presence of the following ten experiences in one's life (see here for a data summary from 5 states):
  1. Emotional Abuse
  2. Physical Abuse
  3. Sexual Abuse
  4. Emotional Neglect
  5. Physical Neglect
  6. Parental Separation or Divorce
  7. Mother Treated Violently*
  8. Household Substance Abuse 
  9. Household Mental Illness
  10. Incarcerated Household Member
[* Where I work, we have adjusted the sexist question on #7 to be "An adult in the household" due to the parity of female and male victims in family violence situations.]

The CDC analyzed information from 26,229 adults in five states using the 2009 ACE scale. The report indicated that, overall, 59.4% of respondents reported having at least one ACE, and 8.7% reported five or more ACEs. Among my clients at the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (SACASA), no one has scored LESS than a 5, and those two are the outliers (everyone else has scored an 8, 9, 10). It's fair to expect our client population to be outside the bell curve.

Clearly, sometimes we can hold parents accountable for what they have done (or failed to do).

Aside from that one item (#9, once again), this is a good list.

The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People

How to succeed at self-sabotage.

November 14, 2013 | Psychotherapy Networker 
By Cloe Madanes

Photo Credit:

Most of us claim we want to be happy—to have meaningful lives, enjoy ourselves, experience fulfillment, and share love and friendship with other people and maybe other species, like dogs, cats, birds, and whatnot. Strangely enough, however, some people act as if they just want to be miserable, and they succeed remarkably at inviting misery into their lives, even though they get little apparent benefit from it, since being miserable doesn’t help them find lovers and friends, get better jobs, make more money, or go on more interesting vacations. Why do they do this? After perusing the output of some of the finest brains in the therapy profession, I’ve come to the conclusion that misery is an art form, and the satisfaction people seem to find in it reflects the creative effort required to cultivate it. In other words, when your living conditions are stable, peaceful, and prosperous—no civil wars raging in your streets, no mass hunger, no epidemic disease, no vexation from poverty—making yourself miserable is a craft all its own, requiring imagination, vision, and ingenuity. It can even give life a distinctive meaning.

So if you aspire to make yourself miserable, what are the best, most proven techniques for doing it? Let’s exclude some obvious ways, like doing drugs, committing crimes, gambling, and beating up your spouse or neighbor. Subtler strategies, ones that won’t lead anyone to suspect that you’re acting deliberately, can be highly effective. But you need to pretend that you want to be happy, like everybody else, or people won’t take your misery seriously. The real art is to behave in ways that’ll bring on misery while allowing you to claim that you’re an innocent victim, ideally of the very people from whom you’re forcibly extracting compassion and pity.

Here, I cover most areas of life, such as family, work, friends, and romantic partners. These areas will overlap nicely, since you can’t ruin your life without ruining your marriage and maybe your relationships with your children and friends. It’s inevitable that as you make yourself miserable, you’ll be making those around you miserable also, at least until they leave you—which will give you another reason to feel miserable. So it’s important to keep in mind the benefits you’re accruing in your misery.
• When you’re miserable, people feel sorry for you. Not only that, they often feel obscurely guilty, as if your misery might somehow be their fault. This is good! There’s power in making other people feel guilty. The people who love you and those who depend on you will walk on eggshells to make sure that they don’t say or do anything that will increase your misery.

• When you’re miserable, since you have no hopes and expect nothing good to happen, you can’t be disappointed or disillusioned.

• Being miserable can give the impression that you’re a wise and worldly person, especially if you’re miserable not just about your life, but about society in general. You can project an aura of someone burdened by a form of profound, tragic, existential knowledge that happy, shallow people can’t possibly appreciate.

Honing Your Misery Skills

Let’s get right to it and take a look at some effective strategies to become miserable. This list is by no means exhaustive, but engaging in four or five of these practices will help refine your talent.

1. Be afraid, be very afraid, of economic loss. In hard economic times, many people are afraid of losing their jobs or savings. The art of messing up your life consists of indulging these fears, even when there’s little risk that you’ll actually suffer such losses. Concentrate on this fear, make it a priority in your life, moan continuously that you could go broke any day now, and complain about how much everything costs, particularly if someone else is buying. Try to initiate quarrels about other people’s feckless, spendthrift ways, and suggest that the recession has resulted from irresponsible fiscal behavior like theirs.

Fearing economic loss has several advantages. First, it’ll keep you working forever at a job you hate. Second, it balances nicely with greed, an obsession with money, and a selfishness that even Ebenezer Scrooge would envy. Third, not only will you alienate your friends and family, but you’ll likely become even more anxious, depressed, and possibly even ill from your money worries. Good job!

Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes, and, for 15 minutes, meditate on all the things you could lose: your job, your house, your savings, and so forth. Then brood about living in a homeless shelter.

2. Practice sustained boredom. Cultivate the feeling that everything is predictable, that life holds no excitement, no possibility for adventure, that an inherently fascinating person like yourself has been deposited into a completely tedious and pointless life through no fault of your own. Complain a lot about how bored you are. Make it the main subject of conversation with everyone you know so they’ll get the distinct feeling that you think they’re boring. Consider provoking a crisis to relieve your boredom. Have an affair (this works best if you’re already married and even better if you have an affair with someone else who’s married); go on repeated shopping sprees for clothes, cars, fancy appliances, sporting equipment (take several credit cards, in case one maxes out); start pointless fights with your spouse, boss, children, friends, neighbors; have another child; quit your job, clean out your savings account, and move to a state you know nothing about.

A side benefit of being bored is that you inevitably become boring. Friends and relatives will avoid you. You won’t be invited anywhere; nobody will want to call you, much less actually see you. As this happens, you’ll feel lonely and even more bored and miserable.

Exercise: Force yourself to watch hours of mindless reality TV programs every day, and read only nonstimulating tabloids that leave you feeling soulless. Avoid literature, art, and keeping up with current affairs.

3. Give yourself a negative identity. Allow a perceived emotional problem to absorb all other aspects of your self-identification. If you feel depressed, become a Depressed Person; if you suffer from social anxiety or a phobia, assume the identity of a Phobic Person or a Person with Anxiety Disorder. Make your condition the focus of your life. Talk about it to everybody, and make sure to read up on the symptoms so you can speak about them knowledgeably and endlessly. Practice the behaviors most associated with that condition, particularly when it’ll interfere with regular activities and relationships. Focus on how depressed you are and become weepy, if that’s your identity of choice. Refuse to go places or try new things because they make you too anxious. Work yourself into panic attacks in places it’ll cause the most commotion. It’s important to show that you don’t enjoy these states or behaviors, but that there’s nothing you can do to prevent them.

Practice putting yourself in the physiological state that represents your negative identity. For example, if your negative identity is Depressed Person, hunch your shoulders, look at the floor, breathe shallowly. It’s important to condition your body to help you reach your negative peak as quickly as possible.

Exercise: Write down 10 situations that make you anxious, depressed, or distracted. Once a week, pick a single anxiety-provoking situation, and use it to work yourself into a panic for at least 15 minutes.

4. Pick fights. This is an excellent way of ruining a relationship with a romantic partner. Once in a while, unpredictably, pick a fight or have a crying spell over something trivial and make unwarranted accusations. The interaction should last for at least 15 minutes and ideally occur in public. During the tantrum, expect your partner to be kind and sympathetic, but should he or she mention it later, insist that you never did such a thing and that he or she must have misunderstood what you were trying to say. Act injured and hurt that your partner somehow implied you weren’t behaving well.

Another way of doing this is to say unexpectedly, “We need to talk,” and then to barrage your partner with statements about how disappointed you are with the relationship. Make sure to begin this barrage just as your partner is about to leave for some engagement or activity, and refuse to end it for at least an hour. Another variation is to text or phone your partner at work to express your issues and disappointments. Do the same if your partner is out with friends.

Exercise: Write down 20 annoying text messages you could send to a romantic partner. Keep a grudge list going, and add to it daily.

5. Attribute bad intentions. Whenever you can, attribute the worst possible intentions to your partner, friends, and coworkers. Take any innocent remark and turn it into an insult or attempt to humiliate you. For example, if someone asks, “How did you like such and such movie?” you should immediately think, He’s trying to humiliate me by proving that I didn’t understand the movie, or He’s preparing to tell me that I have poor taste in movies. The idea is to always expect the worst from people. If someone is late to meet you for dinner, while you wait for them, remind yourself of all the other times the person was late, and tell yourself that he or she is doing this deliberately to slight you. Make sure that by the time the person arrives, you’re either seething or so despondent that the evening is ruined. If the person asks what’s wrong, don’t say a word: let him or her suffer.

Exercise: List the names of five relatives or friends. For each, write down something they did or said in the recent past that proves they’re as invested in adding to your misery as you are.

6. Whatever you do, do it only for personal gain. Sometimes you’ll be tempted to help someone, contribute to a charity, or participate in a community activity. Don’t do it, unless there’s something in it for you, like the opportunity to seem like a good person or to get to know somebody you can borrow money from some day. Never fall into the trap of doing something purely because you want to help people. Remember that your primary goal is to take care of Numero Uno, even though you hate yourself.

Exercise: Think of all the things you’ve done for others in the past that haven’t been reciprocated. Think about how everyone around you is trying to take from you. Now list three things you could do that would make you appear altruistic while bringing you personal, social, or professional gain.

7. Avoid gratitude. Research shows that people who express gratitude are happier than those who don’t, so never express gratitude. Counting your blessings is for idiots. What blessings? Life is suffering, and then you die. What’s there to be thankful for?

Well-meaning friends and relatives will try to sabotage your efforts to be thankless. For example, while you’re in the middle of complaining about the project you procrastinated on at work to your spouse during an unhealthy dinner, he or she might try to remind you of how grateful you should be to have a job or food at all. Such attempts to encourage gratitude and cheerfulness are common and easily deflected. Simply point out that the things you should be grateful for aren’t perfect—which frees you to find as much fault with them as you like.

Exercise: Make a list of all the things you could be grateful for. Next to each item, write down why you aren’t. Imagine the worst. When you think of the future, imagine the worst possible scenario. It’s important to be prepared for and preemptively miserable about any possible disaster or tragedy. Think of the possibilities: terrorist attacks, natural disasters, fatal disease, horrible accidents, massive crop failures, your child not getting picked for the varsity softball team.

8. Always be alert and in a state of anxiety. Optimism about the future leads only to disappointment. Therefore, you have to do your best to believe that your marriage will flounder, your children won’t love you, your business will fail, and nothing good will ever work out for you.

Exercise: Do some research on what natural or manmade disasters could occur in your area, such as earthquakes, floods, nuclear plant leaks, rabies outbreaks. Focus on these things for at least an hour a day.

9. Blame your parents. Blaming your parents for your defects, shortcomings, and failures is among the most important steps you can take. After all, your parents made you who you are today; you had nothing to do with it. If you happen to have any good qualities or successes, don’t give your parents credit. Those are flukes.

Extend the blame to other people from your past: the second-grade teacher who yelled at you in the cafeteria, the boy who bullied you when you were 9, the college professor who gave you a D on your paper, your first boyfriend, even the hick town you grew up in—the possibilities are limitless. Blame is essential in the art of being miserable.

Exercise: Call one of your parents and tell her or him that you just remembered something horrible they did when you were a child, and make sure he or she understands how terrible it made you feel and that you’re still suffering from it.

10. Don’t enjoy life’s pleasures. Taking pleasure in things like food, wine, music, and beauty is for flighty, shallow people. Tell yourself that. If you inadvertently find yourself enjoying some flavor, song, or work of art, remind yourself immediately that these are transitory pleasures, which can’t compensate for the miserable state of the world. The same applies to nature. If you accidentally find yourself enjoying a beautiful view, a walk on the beach, or a stroll through a forest, stop! Remind yourself that the world is full of poverty, illness, and devastation. The beauty of nature is a deception.

Exercise: Once a week, engage in an activity that’s supposed to be enjoyable, but do so while thinking about how pointless it is. In other words, concentrate on removing all sense of pleasure from the pleasurable activity.

11. Ruminate. Spend a great deal of time focused on yourself. Worry constantly about the causes of your behavior, analyze your defects, and chew on your problems. This will help you foster a pessimistic view of your life. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by any positive experience or influence. The point is to ensure that even minor upsets and difficulties appear huge and portentous.

You can ruminate on the problems of others or the world, but make them about you. Your child is sick? Ruminate on what a burden it is for you to take time off from work to care for her. Your spouse is hurt by your behavior? Focus on how terrible it makes you feel when he points out how you make him feel. By ruminating not only on your own problems but also those of others, you’ll come across as a deep, sensitive thinker who holds the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Exercise: Sit in a comfortable chair and seek out negative feelings, like anger, depression, anxiety, boredom, whatever. Concentrate on these feelings for 15 minutes. During the rest of the day, keep them in the back of your mind, no matter what you’re doing.

12. Glorify or vilify the past. Glorifying the past is telling yourself how good, happy, fortunate, and worthwhile life was when you were a child, a young person, or a newly married person—and regretting how it’s all been downhill ever since. When you were young, for example, you were glamorous and danced the samba with handsome men on the beach at twilight; and now you’re in a so-so marriage to an insurance adjuster in Topeka. You should’ve married tall, dark Antonio. You should’ve invested in Microsoft when you had the chance. In short, focus on what you could’ve and should’ve done, instead of what you did. This will surely make you miserable.

Vilifying the past is easy, too. You were born in the wrong place at the wrong time, you never got what you needed, you felt you were discriminated against, you never got to go to summer camp. How can you possibly be happy when you had such a lousy background? It’s important to think that bad memories, serious mistakes, and traumatic events were much more influential in forming you and your future than good memories, successes, and happy events. Focus on bad times. Obsess about them. Treasure them. This will ensure that, no matter what’s happening in the present, you won’t be happy.

Exercise: Make a list of your most important bad memories and keep it where you can review it frequently. Once a week, tell someone about your horrible childhood or how much better your life was 20 years ago.

13. Find a romantic partner to reform. Make sure that you fall in love with someone with a major defect (cat hoarder, gambler, alcoholic, womanizer, sociopath), and set out to reform him or her, regardless of whether he or she wants to be reformed. Believe firmly that you can reform this person, and ignore all evidence to the contrary.

Exercise: Go to online dating sites and see how many bad choices you can find in one afternoon. Make efforts to meet these people. It’s good if the dating site charges a lot of money, since this means you’ll be emotionally starved and poor.

14. Be critical. Make sure to have an endless list of dislikes and voice them often, whether or not your opinion is solicited. For example, don’t hesitate to say, “That’s what you chose to wear this morning?” or “Why is your voice so shrill?” If someone is eating eggs, tell them you don’t like eggs. Your negativity can be applied to almost anything.

It helps if the things you criticize are well liked by most people so that your dislike of them sets you apart. Disliking traffic and mosquitos isn’t creative enough: everyone knows what it’s like to find these things annoying, and they won’t pay much attention if you find them annoying, too. But disliking the new movie that all your friends are praising? You’ll find plenty of opportunities to counter your friends’ glowing reviews with your contrarian opinion.

Exercise: Make a list of 20 things you dislike and see how many times you can insert them into a conversation over the course of the day. For best results, dislike things you’ve never given yourself a chance to like.


I’ve just listed 14 ways to make yourself miserable. You don’t have to nail every one of them, but even if you succeed with just four or five, make sure to berate yourself regularly for not enacting the entire list. If you find yourself in a therapist’s office—because someone who’s still clinging to their love for you has tricked you into going—make sure your misery seems organic. If the therapist enlightens you in any way or teaches you mind-body techniques to quiet your anxious mind, make sure to co-opt the conversation and talk about your misery-filled dreams from the night before. If the therapist is skilled in dream analysis, quickly start complaining about the cost of therapy itself. If the therapist uses your complaints as a launching pad to discuss transference issues, accuse him or her of having countertransference issues. Ultimately, the therapist is your enemy when trying to cultivate misery in your life. So get out as soon as possible. And if you happen upon a therapist who’ll sit quietly while you bring all 14 items on this list to life each week, call me. I’ll want to make an appointment, too.

~ Cloe Madanes is a world-renowned innovator and teacher of family and brief therapy and one of the originators of the strategic approach to family therapy. She has authored seven books that are classics in the field: Strategic Family Therapy; Behind the One-Way Mirror; Sex, Love, and Violence; The Secret Meaning of Money; The Violence of Men; The Therapist as Humanist, Social Activist, and Systemic Thinker; and Relationship Breakthrough. Contact:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mass Killings Can Haunt Elephants for Decades (from Wired)

Effing dumbass humans. Just because a creature doesn't look and sound like we do does not mean they lack feelings, emotions, and memories.

From Wired, via ScienceNOW.

Mass Killings Can Haunt Elephants for Decades

By Virginia Morell, ScienceNOW

Image: Graeme Shannon

African elephants that have lived through the trauma of a cull—or selected killing of their kin—may look normal enough to the casual observer, but socially they are a mess. That’s the conclusion of a new study, the first to show that human activities can disrupt the social skills of large-brained mammals that live in complex societies for decades. The finding, experts say, has implications for conservation management, which often solely focuses on the number of animals in a population, and may extend to chimpanzees, dolphins, whales, and other species.

“It is a groundbreaking study, because it is the first to demonstrate, experimentally, a direct connection between the effects of culling and specific psychosocial harms,” says Lori Marino, a neuroscientist and expert on dolphin behavior at Emory University in Atlanta, who was not involved with the research. “It shows unequivocally that elephants are psychologically damaged by culling.”

Wildlife officials often used culling as a conservation tool in South Africa from the 1960s to the 1990s. (It is still reserved as a management tool there.) At the time, wildlife managers worried that if there were too many elephants in a fenced reserve, like the famed Kruger National Park, the behemoths would ultimately destroy the habitat, eating or trampling all the vegetation and uprooting the trees. During a cull, a helicopter pilot herds an elephant family into a tight bunch. Professional hunters on the ground then shoot the animals as quickly as possible. Only young elephants ranging from about 4 to 10 years old are saved. Park officials typically shipped them to other parks that lacked elephants or had smaller populations to increase the herds, because elephants are popular with tourists.

“Some of these elephants ended up in Pilanesberg National Park,” in South Africa’s North West Province where part of the new study was carried out, says Graeme Shannon, a behavioral ecologist at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, and the lead author of the new study. “Twenty to 30 years have passed since the actual cull and relocation.”

Scientists have known since the late 1990s that many of these elephants were psychologically affected by their experiences during the culling. Other studies have described these effects as akin to posttraumatic stress disorder. For instance, the orphaned male elephants at Pilanesberg and another reserve made headlines for attacking and killing 107 rhinoceroses over a 10-year period, something that elephants had never been reported to do. Other researchers who study male elephants attributed the young males’ abnormal behavior to their surging hormones and lack of social learning—both of which were controlled after older male elephants were introduced. In some instances, the orphaned female elephants were also hyperaggressive and attacked tourist vehicles. But they, too, apparently recovered and went on to form family groups, although these groups sometimes include unrelated individuals, which is unusual in elephants.

“On the surface, they look like they’re now getting on okay,” says Karen McComb, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom and a co-author of the study. “But we found a way to go deeper into their minds, and that’s how we found the deficits in the social decisions that they make.”

From studies of the relatively undisturbed population of elephants in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park, scientists know that social learning is important to these animals. In their family groups, the oldest female is the guiding matriarch, and she passes on to younger members behaviors such as how to greet family members and how to react to the calls of strange females.

The researchers compared the reactions of 14 Pilanesberg elephant families and 39 elephant families in Amboseli to different levels of social threats. For each test, they positioned their Land Rover 100 meters away from a family group and broadcast an elephant’s deep-throated greeting call for 10 to 20 seconds. The calls were from familiar or unfamiliar elephants or were resynthesized calls that were made to sound like individuals of specific age classes. (You can listen to examples here.) These tests gauged the elephants’ ability to make the best decision when faced with what could be a major threat: an older, dominant, strange female. Such animals can pose a danger to a family by forcing them, for instance, to leave areas where they are feeding, McComb says.

The scientists video-recorded the families’ reactions to the various calls and measured certain key behaviors, such as whether the elephants defensively bunched together, whether they listened and smelled for the stranger, and how much time they spent doing these activities.

When the researchers played the calls to the Amboseli elephants, almost every family responded appropriately to the rumbles of the older, unfamiliar female. Typically, the entire family froze in place. The members raised their ears to listen and their trunks to sniff for the invader. They turned toward the vehicle and bunched together, forming a fortress of elephant flesh with the matriarch in front. Sometimes, they charged past the scientist’s vehicle, searching for the alien hussy. “You get the feeling they really know what they’re doing,” McComb says. “They have very coordinated responses.”

In contrast, the Pilanesberg elephants never seemed to know what to do. “The pattern there was no pattern at all; their reactions were completely random,” McComb says. In one extreme instance, a family left the area at once, traveling more than a kilometer before they came to a halt—but they did so in response to the call of an elephant they all knew. “Yet when they heard the call of the older, strange female, they did nothing at all; they just stayed completely relaxed,” Shannon says.

“You might think because of their history that they were just more accepting of strangers,” McComb says. “But it wasn’t that. They simply failed at picking out the calls of older, socially dominant animals.”

Because the Pilanesberg elephants grew up without the social knowledge of their original families, they will likely never properly respond to social threats and may even pass on their inappropriate behaviors to the next generation, the team concludes in the current issue of Frontiers in Zoology. And it may be that elephant populations that are heavily poached or otherwise adversely affected by human activities are similarly socially damaged, they say.

All of this matters because poor decision-making can affect the elephants’ reproductive success, McComb says. A previous study that she and others carried out in Amboseli compared the decision-making abilities of younger and older matriarchs. Those families led by the oldest individuals with the most experience also had the most calves. Exactly how the poor decisions of the Pilanesberg elephants will affect them in the future is as yet unknown. “What we now know is that their social understanding is most certainly impaired,” McComb says.

The team’s findings “may also apply to other species, such as cetaceans and nonhuman primates” that have been and, in some cases, continue to be heavily managed, Marino says. They also show “unequivocally that conservation that is only based on numbers,” that is, on how many animals are in a population, “and which does not take into account the individual ends in disaster.”

Richard Connor, a cetacean biologist at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, adds: “It is difficult to not conclude that the legal killing or illegal poaching of elephants is not only inhumane, it is barbaric.”

This story provided by ScienceNOW, the daily online news service of the journal Science.

Mindfulness Inhibits Implicit Learning - Source of Both Good and Bad Habits


Mindfulness is the answer to everything from anxiety to well-being, but also may have some negative effects on the mind. In a new study out of Georgetown University, and presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, suggests that along with all of its highly touted benefits, mindfulness seems to inhibit implicit learning (learning that occurs without awareness). Implicit learning is the source of bad habits.

The casual reader may read that and think, So what's wrong with that?

The answer is that implicit learning is the source of ALL habits, good and bad. Mindfulness by its very nature keeps us more aware and self-directed, and this presence can "undercut the automatic learning processes — the kind that lead to development of good and bad habits, says the study's lead author, Chelsea Stillman, a psychology PhD student."

On the other hand, if you are mindfulness enough to derail the automatic learning process, you are probably mindful enough to develop habits with intention and awareness (in one study, mindfulness training improved both GRE reading-comprehension scores and working memory capacity in a group of college students).

I'm sure Sam Harris would refute the findings here in some way, but this is another nail in the coffin of his "free will is an illusion" nonsense.

Mindfulness inhibits implicit learning - the wellspring of bad habits

Posted on November 13, 2013

SAN DIEGO — Being mindful appears to help prevent the formation of bad habits, but perhaps good ones too. Georgetown University researchers are trying to unravel the impact of implicit learning, and their findings might appear counterintuitive — at first.

Consider this: when testing who would do best on a task to find patterns among a bunch of dots many might think mindful people would score higher than those who are distracted, but researchers found the opposite — participants low on the mindfulness scale did much better on this test of implicit learning, the kind of learning that occurs without awareness.

This outcome might be surprising until one considers that behavioral and neuroimaging studies suggest that mindfulness can undercut the automatic learning processes — the kind that lead to development of good and bad habits, says the study's lead author, Chelsea Stillman, a psychology PhD student. Stillman works in the Cognitive Aging Laboratory, led by the study's senior investigator, Darlene Howard, PhD, Davis Family Distinguished Professor in the department of psychology and member of the Georgetown Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery.

This study was aimed at examining how individual differences in mindfulness are related to implicit learning. "Our theory is that one learns habits — good or bad — implicitly, without thinking about them," Stillman says. "We wanted to see if mindfulness impeded implicit learning."

That is what they found. Two samples of adult participants first completed a test that gauged their mindfulness character trait, and then they completed one of two sequence learning tasks that measured implicit learning (either the alternating serial reaction time task or the triplet-learning task. Both tasks used circles on a screen and participants were asked to respond to the location of certain colored circles. These tasks tested the ability of participants to learn complex, probabilistic patterns, although test takers would not be aware of that.

The researchers found that people reporting low on the mindfulness scale tended to learn more — their reaction times were quicker in targeting events that occurred more often within a context of preceding events than those that occurred less often.

"The very fact of paying too much attention or being too aware of stimuli coming up in these tests might actually inhibit implicit learning," Stillman says. "That suggests that mindfulness may help prevent formation of automatic habits — which is done through implicit learning — because a mindful person is aware of what they are doing."

Their findings are being presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

The triplet-learning task tested the ability of participants to learn complex, probabilistic patterns, although test takers would not be aware of that. (Photo Credit: Georgetown University)
Source: Georgetown University Medical Center

The Brain Displays a Variety of DNA Codes, Contrary to Previous Theories


All cells in the body contain the same DNA code in their nucleus, right? Not so much. In the brain there seems to be a variety of DNA codes represented, according to new research out of the Salk Institute.

Study finds a patchwork of genetic variation in the brain

Salk scientists find a surprising degree of variation among genomes of individual neurons from the same brain

November 01, 2013

LA JOLLA, CA—It was once thought that each cell in a person's body possesses the same DNA code and that the particular way the genome is read imparts cell function and defines the individual. For many cell types in our bodies, however, that is an oversimplification. Studies of neuronal genomes published in the past decade have turned up extra or missing chromosomes, or pieces of DNA that can copy and paste themselves throughout the genomes.

The only way to know for sure that neurons from the same person harbor unique DNA is by profiling the genomes of single cells instead of bulk cell populations, the latter of which produce an average. Now, using single-cell sequencing, Salk Institute researchers and their collaborators have shown that the genomic structures of individual neurons differ from each other even more than expected. The findings were published November 1, 2013, in Science.
Left to right: Ira Hall, University of Virginia, Michael McConnell, University of Virginia, and Fred H. Gage, Professor, Laboratory of Genetics, Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
"Contrary to what we once thought, the genetic makeup of neurons in the brain aren't identical, but are made up of a patchwork of DNA," says corresponding author Fred Gage, Salk's Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disease.

In the study, led by Mike McConnell, a former junior fellow in the Crick-Jacobs Center for Theoretical and Computational Biology at the Salk, researchers isolated about 100 neurons from three people posthumously. The scientists took a high-level view of the entire genome—looking for large deletions and duplications of DNA called copy number variations or CNVs—and found that as many as 41 percent of neurons had at least one unique, massive CNV that arose spontaneously, meaning it wasn't passed down from a parent. The CNVs are spread throughout the genome, the team found.

The miniscule amount of DNA in a single cell has to be chemically amplified many times before it can be sequenced. This process is technically challenging, so the team spent a year ruling out potential sources of error in the process.

"A good bit of our study was doing control experiments to show that this is not an artifact," says Gage. "We had to do that because this was such a surprise—finding out that individual neurons in your brain have different DNA content."

The group found a similar amount of variability in CNVs within individual neurons derived from the skin cells of three healthy people. Scientists routinely use such induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to study living neurons in a culture dish. Because iPSCs are derived from single skin cells, one might expect their genomes to be the same.

"The surprising thing is that they're not," says Gage. "There are quite a few unique deletions and amplifications in the genomes of neurons derived from one iPSC line."

Interestingly, the skin cells themselves are genetically different, though not nearly as much as the neurons. This finding, along with the fact that the neurons had unique CNVs, suggests that the genetic changes occur later in development and are not inherited from parents or passed to offspring.

It makes sense that neurons have more diverse genomes than skin cells do, says McConnell, who is now an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville. "The thing about neurons is that, unlike skin cells, they don't turn over, and they interact with each other," he says. "They form these big complex circuits, where one cell that has CNVs that make it different can potentially have network-wide influence in a brain."

Spontaneously occurring CNVs have also been linked to risk for brain disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, but those studies usually pool many blood cells. As a result, the CNVs uncovered in those studies affect many if not all cells, which suggests that they arise early in development.

The purpose of CNVs in the healthy brain is still unclear, but researchers have some ideas. The modifications might help people adapt to new surroundings encountered over a lifetime, or they might help us survive a massive viral infection. The scientists are working out ways to alter genomic variability in iPSC-derived neurons and challenge them in specific ways in the culture dish.

Cells with different genomes probably produce unique RNA and then proteins. However, for now, only one sequencing technology can be applied to a single cell.

"If and when more than one method can be applied to a cell, we will be able to see whether cells with different genomes have different transcriptomes (the collection of all the RNA in a cell) in predictable ways," says McConnell.

In addition, it will be necessary to sequence many more cells, and in particular, more cell types, notes corresponding author Ira Hall, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Virginia. "There's a lot more work to do to really understand to what level we think the things we've found are neuron-specific or associated with different parameters like age or genotype," he says.

Other authors on the study are Michael Lindberg and Svetlana Shumilina of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Virginia School of Medicine; Kristen Brennand, now at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York; Julia Piper, now at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Thierry Voet and Joris Vermeesch of the Center for Human Genetics, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium; Chris Cowing-Zitron of Salk's Laboratory of Genetics; and Roger Lasken of the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego.

This work was supported by the Crick-Jacobs Center for Theoretical and Computational Biology, the G. Harold & Leila Y. Mathers Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, the JPB Foundation, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Everywhere and Nowhere - Are Binary Oppositions Real? (The Institute of Art and Ideas)

Yes . . . and it depends. The first binary we ever experience - and we ALL experience it - is the realization, long before language or the ability to "think," that we are a separate organism from mom, environment, the "surround" (the term developmental intersubjective theorists use to describe the world of the infant, internal and external). Until we reach the formal operations level of cognitive development, most people cannot think outside of binaries.

Once we reach formal and post-formal cognition, however, binaries can become tenuous and resolve into a kind of spectrum. For people at this level, binaries still exist (those old cognitive structures are hold to undo) as a part of implicit consciousness, but they are not generally explicit in one's cognitive workspace when stating beliefs.

That's my opinion - watch the video to hear what these smart folks think on this topic.

Are binary oppositions real? Barry Smith, Hilary Rose, Luciano Floridi, Hilary Lawson

The Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI)

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Published on Nov 12, 2013

Are binary oppositions real? Watch Barry Smith, Hilary Rose, Luciano Floridi, and Hilary Lawson debate reality and opposition.

True or false, male or female, Heaven or Hell. Human thought craves oppositions. Can we transcend this way of thinking or are these oppositions fundamental to human thought, and even wrought within the fabric of the world?
Investigate new ways of thinking with top scholars:
  • Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London Barry C Smith
  • London School of Economics sociologist Hilary Rose
  • Award-winning philosopher of the information age Luciano Floridi
  • Post postmodernist thinker Hilary Lawson

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Jim Palmer - 6 Things I Said About the Bible that Received Hate Mail

I like Jim Palmer - I only very recently discovered him on Facebook and began reading his blog. He is as close to a secular Christian as I have ever seen (his motto is "Life Is My Religion") - and as a secular Buddhist, that really appeals to me. He is founder of the Religion-Free Bible Project.

This post will give you a sense of why I resonate with him and his work.

6 things I said about the Bible that received hate mail


“From the very beginning, there was no attempt at creating a single orthodoxy with the Bible. If there’s one thing that’s clear is that the editors of the Bible incorporated different and diverse traditions about such things as the creation story, the stories of the patriarchs, the story of the exodus from Egypt and four different views of Jesus, each with distinctive slants on Jesus. The Bible is not a landing strip for landing on a particular belief system or theology about God, but a spiritual launching pad setting me free to explore the height, width, and depth of myself, God, humankind, life and this world.”


“The Bible is not a club that you beat over someone’s head,
it’s a cup of cool water to a parched and weary soul.

The Bible is not a book of information and doctrines about God,
it’s an invitation into the reality of love, peace, and freedom.

The Bible is not a playbook for being more religious,
it’s a story about humankind’s relationship with God – the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly.

The Bible is not a book with a message about what’s wrong with you,
the Bible is a voice, whispering how good and beautiful you are.

The Bible is not a smack in the face about what you should be doing better,
it’s a tap on the shoulder, reminding you that you are never separated from what you most deeply long for.

The Bible was not written for establishing a belief system about God,
it was written as an invaluable spiritual resource for one’s journey with God.”


9 Thoughts To Challenge Your View Of The Bible:

1. The Bible is not a religious book.
2. The story of the Bible has value for all of humankind, regardless of your religious tradition or no religion at all.
3. The Bible is not owned by any particular sect of people, including institutional Christianity; the Bible is a spiritual resource for all people.
4. Contrary to what “they” say, there is more than one way to read, interpret, and understand the Bible.
5. People need to know that the destructive and oppressive ideas they learned about God as a result of their involvement with religion are not truly “biblical.”
6. In the hands of the people, the Bible can be an instrument of love, beauty, peace, acceptance and harmony in the world.
7. Humankind needs permission to walk away from the lie we learned about ourselves that we are bad, flawed, defective, not good enough, and unacceptable to God.
8. You don’t need an MDiv or PhD in theology to embrace the simple but profound message of the Bible.
9. Jesus could not and would not subscribe to what is often passed off as “orthodoxy.”


Why we need a Religion-Free Bible

Reason #12: Toxic Claims “Spiritual Leaders” Make About the Bible:

In order to be a real Christian you need to know who the real God is, and how the real God feels. Some of you … God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny. He doesn’t think your excuse is meritorious. He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you, He hates them too. God hates, right now, personally, objectively hates some of you. He has had enough.” – Mark Driscoll

  • What if a collection of writings, giving different snapshots of humankind’s relationship with the divine, were assembled into one volume?
  • What if these snapshots told a story that we somehow find ourselves in at every turn, including moments of profound beauty and goodness, and moments of deep heartache and sorrow?
  • What if the story includes chapters where people are getting God horribly wrong and justifying hatred and atrocity in God’s name, and other chapters where people are getting it right and living as powerful expressions of love in the world?
  • What if it’s a human story, a divine story, and a cultural story happening, evolving and intertwined all at once?
  • What if their is an unnamed brilliance, depth and mystery to the story that requires one to look deeper, read between the lines, and listen with your heart?
  • What if the primary plot or theme of the whole story is strangely fulfilled in the birth, life, and death of a divine nobody?
  • What if the story has the power to inspire love, peace, beauty, healing, wholeness, harmony, and goodness in the world, and transform humankind’s relationships with ourselves individually and collectively, with God, with others, and with life itself?
What if this story is the Bible?


During my process of shedding religion I put away my Bible for a season, and it’s one of the best things I’ve done for my relationship with God. I quit reading it. I tuned out preachers and others quoting or referring to it. Of course, I had enough horse sense not to broadcast my taking a break from reading the Bible, but it’s not something you can hide from everyone.

The results? God deepened his life in me during my hiatus from the Scriptures in ways I’m still coming to grips with. At the top of the list was the experience of God’s unconditional acceptance. For many years I carried inside and unspoken list of “what if” questions about the extent of God’s acceptance. I knew God loved me, in a general John 3:16 sort of way, but what if I didn’t go to church anymore… or have daily quiet times… or didn’t read my Bible? Would God accept me and love me then? Would I still have a relationship with God then? Would there really even be a God… then?

God didn’t stop communicating with me when I quit reading the Bible, which took care of several of my “what if” questions. I discovered a living God I could know and interact with in real time whenever I wanted to. The personal and intimate, accepting and loving Father God the Scriptures pointed to was real, really real! God began expressing himself in a variety of ways, which I had been oblivious to operating under the assumption that God only spoke through the words of Scripture. These spiritual exchanges between God and me occurred through such things as nature, people, art, film, music, and the still, small voice within.

For me, God went from being locked up in a book that I accessed during morning quiet times, sermon preparation, and Bible study to being everywhere all the time. It’s amazing what you can see when you’re actually looking… and that goes for hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, and feeling as well. It’s like God was always there but my radar was off, or only on during specific times and then only narrowly focused in one particular area of Scripture.

Carl Gustav Jung, Quantum Physics and the Spiritual Mind: A Mystical Vision of the Twenty-First Century


The Jungians have had a fascination with quantum physics ever since CG Jung collaborated with physicist Wolfgang Pauli (and Albert Einstein) in developing his concept of synchronicity. It seems, in principle, that the idea or theory of synchronicity is an essential underpinning to the article presented below, so here is a more in-depth conceptualization of synchronicity from Wikipedia:
Synchronistic events reveal an underlying pattern, a conceptual framework that encompasses, but is larger than, any of the systems that display the synchronicity. The suggestion of a larger framework is essential to satisfy the definition of synchronicity as originally developed by Carl Gustav Jung.[3]

Jung coined the word to describe what he called "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events." Jung variously described synchronicity as an "acausal connecting principle", "meaningful coincidence" and "acausal parallelism". Jung introduced the concept as early as the 1920s, but gave a full statement of it only in 1951 in an Eranos lecture[4] and in 1952, published a paper, Synchronizität als ein Prinzip akausaler Zusammenhänge (Synchronicity – An Acausal Connecting Principle),[5] in a volume with a related study by the physicist (and Nobel laureate) Wolfgang Pauli.[6]

It was a principle that Jung felt gave conclusive evidence for his concepts of archetypes and the collective unconscious,[7] in that it was descriptive of a governing dynamic that underlies the whole of human experience and history – social, emotional, psychological, and spiritual. Concurrent events that first appear to be coincidental but later turn out to be causally related are termed incoincident.

Jung believed that many experiences that are coincidences due to chance in terms of causality suggested the manifestation of parallel events or circumstances in terms of meaning, reflecting this governing dynamic.[8]

Even at Jung's presentation of his work on synchronicity in 1951 at an Eranos lecture, his ideas on synchronicity were evolving. Following discussions with both Albert Einstein and Wolfgang Pauli, Jung believed that there were parallels between synchronicity and aspects of relativity theory and quantum mechanics.[9] Jung was transfixed by the idea that life was not a series of random events but rather an expression of a deeper order, which he and Pauli referred to as Unus mundus. This deeper order led to the insights that a person was both embedded in an orderly framework and was the focus of that orderly framework and that the realisation of this was more than just an intellectual exercise, but also having elements of a spiritual awakening. From the religious perspective, synchronicity shares similar characteristics of an "intervention of grace". Jung also believed that in a person's life, synchronicity served a role similar to that of dreams, with the purpose of shifting a person's egocentric conscious thinking to greater wholeness. A close associate of Jung, Marie-Louise von Franz, stated towards the end of her life that the concept of synchronicity must now be worked on by a new generation of researchers.[10] For example, in the years since the publication of Jung’s work on synchronicity, some writers largely sympathetic to Jung's approach have taken issue with certain aspects of his theory, including the question of how frequently synchronicity occurs. For example, in "The Waking Dream: Unlocking the Symbolic Language of Our Lives", Ray Grasse suggests that instead of being a "rare" phenomenon, as Jung suggested, synchronicity is more likely all-pervasive, and that the occasional dramatic coincidence is only the tip of a larger iceberg of meaning that underlies our lives. Grasse places the discussion of synchronicity in the context of what he calls the "symbolist" world view, a traditional way of perceiving the universe that regards all phenomena as interwoven by linked analogies or "correspondences." Though omnipresent, these correspondences tend to become obvious to us only in the case of the most startling coincidences.
Here is a diagram of that model as Jung envisioned it:

With that, on to the paper. I have included the first three sections and then two later sections - the whole paper is available online at the link given in the title (or you can download it from the link provided for the pdf).
Full Citation:
Ponte, DV, Schäfer, L. (2013, Nov 13). "Carl Gustav Jung, Quantum Physics and the Spiritual Mind: A Mystical Vision of the Twenty-First Century." Behav. Sci. 3, no. 4: 601-618.
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Analytical Psychology: Theory and Practice)
Download PDF Full-Text [75 KB, uploaded 13 November 2013]
1. Associação AVC (Cerebral Vascular Diseases), 4750-175 Barcelos, Portugal
2. Physical Chemistry, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA

We describe similarities in the ontology of quantum physics and of Carl Gustav Jung’s psychology. In spite of the fact that physics and psychology are usually considered as unrelated, in the last century, both of these disciplines have led at the same time to revolutionary changes in the Western understanding of the cosmic order, discovering a non-empirical realm of the universe that doesn’t consist of material things but of forms. These forms are real, even though they are invisible, because they have the potential to appear in the empirical world and act in it. We present arguments that force us to believe, that the empirical world is an emanation out of a cosmic realm of potentiality, whose forms can appear as physical structures in the external world and as archetypal concepts in our mind. Accordingly, the evolution of life now appears no longer as a process of the adaptation of species to their environment, but as the adaptation of minds to increasingly complex forms that exist in the cosmic potentiality. The cosmic connection means that the human mind is a mystical mind.

1. Introduction

When René Descartes declared that the world consisted of two kinds of material, i.e., thinking substance and extended substance, and when Isaac Newton ([1], p. 400) declared that “God in the beginning formed Matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable very hard, as never to wear or break in pieces”, Western Science then became a form of materialism, and anything that wasn’t matter didn’t matter. When Darwin introduced Newton’s materialism into biology, having-or-not-having stuff became the essence of life, and greed and aggression became the natural virtues of our society, segregating one individual from the next, one country from another, and one species from the next. In this way, the classical world was a segregative world, and all aspects of life were affected: The physical sciences had nothing to do with ethics, philosophy had nothing to do with the arts, and the order of the universe had nothing to do with the way in which we should live. As Jacques Monod described it: “Man must at last wake out of his millenary dream and discover his total solitude, his fundamental isolation. He must realize that, like a gypsy, he lives on the boundary of an alien world; a world that is deaf to his music, and as indifferent to his hopes as it is to his suffering or his crimes” ([2], p. 160).

In this totalitarian materialistic environment, Carl Gustav Jung had the courage to propose that our mind is guided by a system of forms, the archetypes, which are powerful, even though they don’t carry any mass or energy, and which are real, even though they are invisible. The archetypes exist, as Jung ([3], pp. 43–44) described, in a “psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature”. Out of this system, the invisible forms can appear in our mind and guide “our imagination, perception, and thinking”.

As it turns out, Carl Gustav Jung’s revolutionary views of the human mind are in perfect agreement with the discoveries of Quantum Physics, which, during the last century, also came as a shock, because they revealed the fundamental errors of Classical Physics and led to a radical change in the Western view of the world. The quantum phenomena now force us to think that the basis of the material world is non-material, and that there is a realm of the world that we can’t see, because it doesn’t consist of material things, but of non-material forms. These forms are real, even though they are invisible, because they have the potential to appear in the empirical world and to act on us. They form a realm of potentiality in the physical reality, and all empirical things are emanations out of this realm. There are indications that the forms in the cosmic potentiality are patterns of information, thought-like, and that they are hanging together like the thoughts in our mind. Accordingly, the world now appears to us as an undivided wholeness, in which all things and people are interconnected and consciousness is a cosmic property.

In this essay, we will describe the similarities between Carl Gustav Jung’s psychology and Quantum ontology. Our description will show that Jung’s teaching is more than psychology: it is a form of spirituality. By “spirituality”, we mean a view of the world that accepts the numinous at the foundation of the cosmic order. In the same way, Quantum Physics is more than physics: it is a new form of mysticism, which suggests the interconnectedness of all things and beings and the connection of our minds with a cosmic mind.

2. Quantum Physics and the Spiritual Foundation of the Empirical World

If we want to characterize Carl-Gustav Jung’s psychology in one sentence, we can say that Analytical Psychology, embodied in the archetype structure, leads us to the view that there is a part of the world that we can’t see, a realm of reality that doesn’t consist of material things but of non-material forms. These forms are real even though they are invisible, because they have the potential to appear in our mind and act in it. In the following sections, we will show that this view of the world is identical with the ontology of Quantum Physics. Our description is necessarily short, but the interested reader will find many details and references in our previous works [4–22]; particularly, in a recent book, “Infinite Potential. What Quantum Physics Reveals About How We Should Live” [23].

3. The Basis of the Material World is Non-Material

The first aspect of the quantum world that we have to consider concerns the fact that the basis of material things is not material. This view is in complete contrast to our experience of the world, but it follows from Schrödinger’s quantum mechanics, which is currently the only theory that allows us to understand the properties of atoms and molecules. In this theory, the electrons in atoms and molecules aren’t tiny material particles, little balls of matter, but standing waves or forms.

All atoms consist of a positively charged nucleus, which contains most of the mass of an atom, and of electrons, which are somehow arranged in the space surrounding the nucleus. Electrons are tiny elementary particles: they have a definite mass and, whenever we see one, it appears as a tiny dot: for example, as a flash on a TV screen or a little mark on a photographic film.

In contrast to their appearances, the electrons in atoms and molecules aren’t tiny material particles or little balls, which run around atomic the atomic nuclei like planets around the sun, but they are standing waves: when an electron enters an atom, it ceases to be a material particle and becomes a wave. We owe Max Born for the discovery that the nature of these waves is that of probability waves. That is, the electrons in atoms are probability fields.

When this aspect of electrons first became known was unclear. What are probabilities? Probabilities are dimensionless numbers, ratios of numbers. Probability waves are empty and carry no mass or energy, just information on numerical relations. Nevertheless, the visible order of the world is determined by the interference of these waves. The interferences of atomic wave patterns, for example, determine what kind of molecules can form. In addition, the interferences of molecular wave forms determine how molecules interact. The molecules in your body, for example, interact in such a way that they keep you alive.

In view of these properties of the elementary units of matter, we have to conclude that the order of the visible world is based on phenomena, which transcend the materialism of classical physics. If one pursues the nature of matter to its roots, at the level of atoms and molecules all of a sudden one finds oneself in a realm of mathematical forms and numbers, where all matter is lost: Thus, one is led to the view that the basis of reality is nonmaterial.

In modern science, this finding was unexpected, and many scientists still don’t accept it, but the idea isn’t new. For example, in the sixth century B.C.E. Pythagoras ([24], p. 54) was already teaching that “all things are numbers” and that “the entire cosmos is harmony and number.” In Plato’s philosophy, atoms are mathematical forms. St. Augustine wrote in his Confessions: “The older I got, the more despicable became the emptiness of my thought, because I could think of no entity in any other way than as bodily visible”. Moreover, Nicolas da Cusa, a fifteenth century German theologian, is credited with the statement: “Number was the first model of things in the mind of the Creator.”

At this point, the reader may already note the importance of the quantum world for Carl Gustav Jung’s psychology: The discovery of a realm of non-material forms, which exist in the physical reality as the basis of the visible world, makes it possible to accept the view that the archetypes are truly existing, real forms, which can appear in our mind out of a cosmic realm, in which they are stored. Thus, we can confirm here on the basis of the quantum phenomena Jung’s view that “it is not only possible but fairly probable, even, that psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing” ([25], para. 418).

* * * * *

6. Quantum Physics Is the Psychology of the Universe

An important concept in quantum chemistry is the concept of virtual states: virtual states are the empty states of atoms and molecules. (For a more detailed description of the concept of virtuality in chemistry, with additional examples, see “Infinite Potential” [23]).

All atoms and molecules exist in quantum states. You can think of a molecule like of a mountain range with countless hills and valleys. Each valley is an energy hole, which contains an energy ladder. The steps of these ladders represent fixed, or quantized, amounts of energy: they are the quantum states of a molecule. Each molecule must occupy one of its states—it must stand on one of the steps of its ladders—so that a large number of states are empty. Quantum chemists call the empty states of things their virtual states. Virtual states are mathematical forms or patterns of information. They have the forms of waves, but these waves are invisible, because they are empty: there is nothing there to see. But they are real and they truly exist, even though we can’t see them, because a molecule can jump into such a state and make it a visible state. You can think of virtual states as the logical structure of a system, which contains its future empirical possibilities: All that a molecule can do is to jump from an occupied state into a virtual state.

In an empirical science the appearance of entities, which have no matter, no energy and are invisible, is an embarrassment. You can very well compare the situation to Jung’s thesis that behind our conscious thinking there is a realm of unconscious forms. If you have to describe the world by referring to an invisible, numinous realm of reality, you are leaving the realm of empirical science. Thus, many of the pioneers of quantum physics tried to explain the virtual states away as mere constructs that don’t really exist. However, we have no choice: we have to think that the empty states of atoms and molecules are real, because they can control empirical phenomena.

For example, all chemical reactions are steered by the virtual states of the reacting molecules, which determine what kinds of molecules can form in a reaction. In a specific type of reactions, called Redox reactions, the products appear with characteristic magnetic properties, which are determined by their virtual states. In addition, oxygen can serve our metabolism, because it contains what chemists call degenerate states. Degenerate states are invisible and yet they are the basis for the particular reactivity of oxygen.

There is no doubt: invisible virtual states are real. Since their inner forms can affect visible phenomena, they must be truly existing, real entities. Molecules are guided in their actions by the wave forms of their virtual states, like by inner images.

The concept of the inner images derives from psychology. Brain scientist Gerald Hüther ([37], p. 17) calls inner images all that “which is hidden” behind the visible surface of living beings and steers their actions. Similarly, Jung [3] believed that archetypal images exist in our consciousness, which are manifestations of the pure forms of archetypes, which are unknowable.

In chemistry, a molecule doesn’t do anything that isn’t allowed by a wave form—an inner image—of one of its virtual states. In life, a human being does nothing that isn’t allowed by an inner image of the mind. There is an equivalence of the mental and the physical. Psychology is the physics of the mind: Quantum physics is the psychology of the universe.

7. Quantum Wave Functions Are Archetypes

It is no accident that the development of psychology as a science took a quantum leap after 1900 C.E, when the era of the Classical Sciences came to an end and the Quantum era began. Jung’s view of the human psyche presupposes a structure of the universe that is in perfect agreement with the Quantum universe, but impossible in Newton’s world. For example, Jung’s assumption that an invisible part of the world exists, which doesn’t consist of material things, but of forms—the archetypes—is unacceptable in a Newtonian universe, in which all phenomena depend on the properties of matter.

Jung’s collective unconscious is a non-personal part of the human psyche. It is a realm of forms—the archetypes—which can appear spontaneously in our consciousness and act in it, influencing “our imagination, perception, and thinking” ([3], p. 44). The archetypes are “typical modes of  apprehension” ([25], p. 137), which shape, regulate and motivate the conscious forms in our mind in the same way, in which the virtual states of atoms and molecules shape and control empirical phenomena. We must constantly reach into the realm of the archetypes and actualize their virtual forms, in order to be able to live and to give meaning to life.

We have described above, how molecules are guided in their actions by the wave forms of their quantum states, like by inner images. Since the inner images control all the processes of the world, they must have guided, too, the evolution of life. In this way, biological evolution appears primarily not as an adaptation of life forms to their environment, but as the adaptation of minds to increasingly complex forms—archetypes—in the cosmic potentiality. In our minds, the cosmic forms appear as thoughts; in the physical reality they appear as material structures. We can understand the world, because the forms within our mind and the structures of the world outside, both derive from the same cosmic source.

It makes sense to think that all of reality is like the reality of the atoms. That is, behind the visible surface of things there is a realm of invisible forms, which have the potential to appear in the empirical world and act in it. As pointed out above, we can think of this realm like of an ocean, whose waves are hanging together and are mind-like, so that the universe now appears as an indivisible wholeness, and consciousness is a cosmic property.

The appearance of the archetypes in our mind shows our connection with a transpersonal order. Beyond the narrow confines of our personal psyche, Jung pointed out, the collective unconscious is
“a boundless expanse full of unprecedented uncertainty, with apparently no inside and no outside, no above and no below, no here and no there, no mine and no thine, no good and no bad…where I am indivisibly this and that; where I experience the other in myself and the other-than-myself experiences me…There I am utterly one with the world, so much a part of it that I forget all too easily who I really am.” ([3], p. 21).

Idealist philosophers and mystics have pursued such ideas through the ages. In the nineteenth century, for example, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel taught that “Absolute Spirit” is the primary structure of the universe. Everything that exists is the actualization of spirit, and everything is connected with it. Spirit is everything, creates everything, and thinking and being, subject and object, the real and the ideal, the human and the divine—all are One. Thus, Hegel concluded, our thinking is the thinking of the Cosmic Spirit, who is thinking in us.

Thousands of years prior to Hegel, the Indian Sages invented the allegory of the water pots, which are filled with water and placed into the sun: You can see the sun in each one of them, but there is only one sun. Similarly, you can find consciousness in countless human minds, but there is only one consciousness: the Cosmic Consciousness.

The word, “consciousness” derives from the Latin, “con” and “sciencia”, and it means a state of “knowing together”. Interestingly, when we speak of our consciousness and that of other people, we always speak of “our consciousness”, and never use the plural form, speaking of our consciousnesses. There is no plural form, because there is only one consciousness: the cosmic consciousness. If our personal consciousness is merely a part of a cosmic system, it isn’t amazing that archetypes can appear in our mind and act in it.

By the way, in which it describes the world, quantum physics has taken science into the center of ancient spiritual teachings. For example, molecular wave functions have no units of matter or energy. They are pure, non-material forms. The same is true for Jung’s archetypes: like the wave functions of quantum systems, they are pure, non-material forms. In Aristotle’s metaphysics, all things are mixtures of matter and form. There was only one pure form: God.

The name that quantum chemists have given the empty states of atoms and molecules—that is, calling them “virtual states”—is a peculiar expression and one wonders, where it is coming from? As it turns out, the concept wasn’t invented by quantum chemists, but by Meister Eckhart, a medieval Dominican Monk and Mystic. “The visible things are out of the oneness of the divine light”, Meister Eckhart (cit. in [38], pp. 63–64) wrote, and their existence in the empirical world is due the “actualization of their ‘virtual being’”.

What a stunning phenomenon! The same unusual term appears in the mind of a medieval mystic and then, hundreds of years later, in the mind of a quantum chemist. The example shows, that absolute truths can appear, again and again, with the same messages, through thousands of years, in different minds, different ages and different parts of the world. It is difficult to avoid the impression that our minds are connected to a cosmic realm of thoughts: the realm of Jung’s archetypes.

Jung’s archetypes and the wave functions of quantum states are so similar that we could think of the archetypes as the virtual state functions of our mind; and we could speak of the virtual quantum wave functions as the archetypes of the physical reality. Because they “have never been in consciousness” before ([3], p. 42), the archetypes appear out of a nonempirical realm of the world. For each one of us the birth of a conscious self is out of a realm of nonempirical forms, in the same way in which the birth of an empirical world is out of a realm of virtual states. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the two families of forms have their home in the same cosmic realm; that is, in the realm of the cosmic consciousness. “That the world inside and outside ourselves rests on a transcendent background is as certain as our own existence.” (Jung cit. in [30], p. 4).