"Empathy, Resilience and Consciousness"

by Peggie Southwick; Iona Miller, Editor
Asklepia Foundation, 1998/2002

The Harmony and Order of Things
What is Resilience?
Tensegrity: The Finite Tension of Infinite Intention
Summary of the Known and Unknowable

Conclusions and Projections: 




Having made a discovery, I shall never see the world again as before.  My eyes have become different;  I have made myself into a person seeing and thinking differently.  I have crossed a gap, the heuristic gap, which lies between problem and discovery.
                                                (Polanyi, 1962, cited in Mousakis, 1990, p.56)

We should now proceed to find a neutral, or unitarian, language in which every concept we use is applicable as well to the unconscious as to matter, in order to overcome this wrong view that the unconsciousn psyche and matter are two things.
                                                Professor Wolfgang Pauli

The Harmony and Order of Things

The opening quest of this work was for a new way of heuristically experiencing, and thus more wholly understanding, the essential meanings and fundamental functions of the phenomenon resilience.  Application of the CRP process allows us to enter these conceptual worlds for a first-hand experiential journey through these states.

We've theorized that perhaps resilience is really about the successful communication of information back and forth between all of life's existential states.  The answers to this reseach question have ubiquitously appeared in our long journey through this work. They will continue to emerge in relation to the CRP or dreamhealing process throughout the commentaries which constitute the rest of this journal Chaosophy 2002.

The current model of resilience is shown to be psychologically rooted in metaphors depicting competition of available energy resources.  With "rebounding" and "elasticity" being described as its predominant characteristics, the image created is that of one force being resiliently stronger than its opposing force.  This is a mythology whose potential usefulness seems to have expanded over the course of our competitively-waged human history.

We proposed that the application of a more harmoniusly integrative psychological model of the life process might thus help facilitiate a new kind of resilience within the world community; one which would simultaneously enhance, --one increasingly consciously resilient individual at a time, --the conscious evolution of the whole.

Humanity's fundamental pathology was envisioned as a potentially terminal imbalance of its logos (rationality) and eros (feeling) functions which are in need of the holistic healing that a new, more constructive way of experiencing its polarities could provide.  The goddess Harmonia is the archetypal image whose inspirations synchronistically appeared to guide this heuristic search for whatever truths we were ready to receive.  The archetypal healer Asklepios will inform our further applications of these discoveries in non-interpretive, experiential healing journeys in waking REM.

Thus we are armed with the firm conviction that resilience is about the ability of each of life's being states to become more whole through mutually meaningful interactional dialogue and commerce between all of its other being states.  We set out to logically define the functional boundaries of the resilience process and creatively describe its many emergent manifestions into that functional form.

The underlying question was:  "What is the essential nature and fundamental function of human resilience?"  The following sections provide brief summaries of our conclusions from evidentiary clues.  Our investigation has hopefully provided a clearer view of the conceptual and experiential aspects of the resilience phenomenon.

What is Resilience?

I've come to believe that science at its very core, is a spiritual endeavor.  Some of my best insights have come to me through what I can only call a mystical process.  It's like having God whisper in your ear...It's this inner voice that scientists must come to trust.
                                                 Candace Pert, quoted in Neimark, 1997, p. 74

Not satisfied with the theoretical limitations posed by science's current "nature versus nurture" paradigm, we set out in Part I and II to find a missing third, invisible factor, which might actively be involved in the resilience process.  We found one which could acknowledge the reality that life is a process composed of more than the sum of its resilient parts.

Piaget (Seigler, 1991) gave us the terminology we needed to connect all of the psychological models into their basic underlying theme.  Ideally, life is an ongoing equilibrative process of accommodative assimilation of sensory information and its eventual development, through its necessary evolutionary stages, into resilient coping skills and adaptive behaviors.

Variations in the efficacy of this information transduction process have been shown to be the result of several kinds of incoherencies created through energy-diminishing interference effects of both nature and nurture upon a person's overall life-energy state at any given point in time.

We have also suggested that through various therapeutic techniques, holistic healing could be effected in these areas of energy-blockage by holistically re-organizing habitual neural patterns through focused intentionality.  Self-organizing emergence of a new self image automatically changes beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behavior.  This restructures, reframes and re-equilibrates the life-draining effects of pathological wave-patterns into more life-enhancing ones.  It reduces the dumping of autotoxic metabolic by-products of stress into the bodymind.

The holographic language of quantum mechanics, describing the various relationships of energy movements through spacetime provide an effective way of conceptually reframing, or transducing, the theoretical information that eventually seems to be emerging from within the non-linear, pre-linguistic states of the collective unconscious.  We resolve that the very existence of the mysterious third force (inclusive of and yet supraordinate to the forces of nature and nurture) is evidently quite intimately involved in the evolution of this resilient process that we call life.

A working definition of the qualitative state of resilience shows a range of variability within which our psyches can function in order to maintain a stable, harmoniously adaptive balance of life energies.  It is in search of the function of this resilient state that we began our philosophical journey through Part IV.

Tensegrity: The Finite Tension of Infinite Intention

We are at this moment participating in one of the very greatest leaps of the human spirit to a knowledge not only of outside nature but also of our own deep inward mystery.
                                                                 Joseph Campbell, 1988, p. xviii

Part IV refined psychological and biological information discussed previously.  Its more ethereal, spiritual aspects were defined in terms of mystical concepts of life's origins presented in Carl Jung's (1961) "Seven Sermons to the Dead."  The gnostic terminology was translated into contemporary scientific models from cosmology, quantum physics, chaos theory, synergetics and holography.

Within the infinitely expanded horizons provided by this new resilience frame of reference, we discovered that all of life seems to exist as an infinitely finite cycling in and out of the balanced states of wholeness.  This is perfectly coherent energy, from which we, as potentiated life energy must continuously escape, and paradoxically, into which we, as potentially living beings, are continuously reborn.  We emerge from Chaos into order, and our consciousness dissolves into that chaotic state for rejuvination and renewal.  Thus, we exist resiliently at the creative edge of chaos.

We can see, looking back at the point where mind and body connect via these virtual energy exchanges, that our psychic and somatic states are modifiable by one another at this juncture of potential energy with its potentiated form.

It is thus our responsibility, as we become increasingly individuated, to modulate as necessary areas which are in need of a holistic tune-up.  One manner of doing this is by intentionally choosing to journey toward chaos for creative re-structuring, letting old outworn patterns dissolve.

We can self-manage the distribution and management of energy-draining life stresses on the whole mind-body by attending to the primal creative process.  It is not an issue of mind-over-matter nor conscious will exerting its agenda over the subconscious.  Rather, it is an approach of "mind-as-matter."  And this individuation process of self-reflection and self-correction is resilient to the extent that its effects enhance the ongoing life process rather than diminish it.

And so, at the end of our life process, when our temporal body is separated from its infinite energy source, its physical remains are, of logical and practical necessity returned for recycling into the larger energic scheme wherein is planted "the Tree of Life."

Likewise, we can assume, the infinite life energies over which our bodies temporarily have dominion, must also be returned for recycling within the infinitely larger "pleromal-Abraxas" scheme of things.  And somewhere in the middle, the energy demands of being alive (the self-adaptive needs of "Eros") give rise to the "devilish" conflicts upon which our life energies must creatively break themselves in order to adapt and grow stronger, to evolve into ever higher forms of conscious energy.

Summary of the Known and Unknowable

The different intelligences are like the various tones that make up a scale.  When we bring them into harmony, we have richer and more resonant experience.  Life becomes a symphony that's full of meaning.
                                                Elaine DeBeauport, quoted in Andrews, 1997, p. 26

And this, in a few words, is the Tao of resilience:  Eternal answers to life's questions are already wrapped like gifts within the individual, consciousness-channelling, information-transducing mind-bodies of their living participants.  It only remains for each of us to expand our conscious life-energies in order to claim those gifts which we already possess and through whose guidance we may continuously become more resilient and harmoniously recreated within the womb of our own evolutionary process.

“... But, as old nature is transformed into new Nature, a prophet can now foretell that dogmatic faith in anti-magic will revive blind trust in magic; and that science will become occult, while occult becomes
science.  James Joyce, who foresaw this outcome, asks mythic, tribal Finn,
the rhetorical question: ‘Who gave you that numb?’ Joyce then listens
to‘what the thunders said’ as the gods replied in FINNEGANS WAKE. In this
primer for prophets, Joyce reveals through the multisensuous language
of the gods how archetypal Finn reacts psychically and socially to his own technological innovations, from paleolithic barbarism to modern civilization. Finn is alternately awakened to consciousness by the ‘thunder’ of each innovation, and lulled to unconsciousness by the environment that each creates through continued use. But, at the end of the First Cycle of merely reacting to the psychic and social consequences of innovation, he is prepared to enter the Second Cycle by anticipating them; first, he had the experience before its meaning; now he can have the meaning before the experience. ‘Finn again!’ has discovered ‘The keys to. Given!’ - the KEYS (not only mechanical, but musical) to GIVEN (both data and Heaven) - in the magical intervals between sleeping and waking.” -
Barrington Nevitt, ABC OF PROPHECY, 1980, p.56 (quoted by Bob Dobbs, nlc post, 11/2001).

The world is many things, and no single framework can hold it all, neither science nor art, neither analysis nor intuition.  We need harmony between science and the spiritual, between the subjective and the objective.
                                                                (Richard E. Cytowic, 1993, p. 227)

As a proposed new way of seeing the phenomenon of resilience, the Jungian-holographic-tensegrity model offers not only a logically and spiritually coherent solution to the creation-versus-evolution controversy, but also promises useful new ways of understanding the living dynamics of harmony and order from which all of life is continuously being composed.

Resilience as tensegrity, tension with integrity, is the intelligent product of its own creative process.  Where resilience is lacking, intelligent creativity is lacking.  Thus, it remains for us as a society to follow the lead of people like Daniel Goleman (1995) and Elaine DeBeauport (1996), who walk their talk by putting into practice their own intelligently creative ideas about helping the world become more resiliently adaptive.

In her article on resilience, Butler (1997) warns of the dangers of going to extremes with our programs to help at risk populations.  She explains that

[t]he reality that some children beat the odds is attractive to conservatives, because it suggests that inner strengths may be more crucial than expensive programs.  Risk research, on the other hand, leads liberals to argue for changing the odds that children face, rather than making them beat them, (p. 25).

Instead, she lists several innovative ways people are helping one another become more resilient around our country.  For example, in Mississippi, resilient stories of older men are being collected and handed down to younger generations.  In other areas, children from disadvantaged families are being helped to develop self-confidence-building life skills through school and community-sponsored activities.

Butler's article echoes the reality that our answers come through learning to cooperatively develop and focus our full attention onto the areas where increased resilience is needed in our communities.  In so doing, we also facilitate the evolving conscious resilience of the global collective.  The more clearly we begin to see that all of life is interconnected, that no one action is truly separate from the interactions around and within itself, the more holistic healing can occur, individually and collectively.

The better we understand how the functions of mind and body are interconnected, the more consciously we can work towards finding creative solutions to their respective pathologies.  Resilience is actually a holistic model of a consciousness-expanding process, involving the mutual interactions of self-reflection and self-correction at the individual and collective levels of our existence.  Thus it is incumbent upon us to pause and reflect how each of us is influencing, for better or for worse, the structural integrity of the global tensegrity structure within which we are a tension-bearing member.

Returning to our original harmony metaphor, each of our lives can be seen as a song composed of combinations of energy patterns which, if experienced holographically-- as synesthesia, for example --would be transduced into a four-dimensional "musical" tensegrity structure.

Recent research has shown that moreso than with other sensory stimuli, nearly every part of the brain is involved in the perception of music (Glausiusz, 1997).  Thus, each of us, as we construct the energy patterns from which our magnum opus is being formed, can choose to learn to listen more consciously in our souls for logical notes which are off-key or otherwise discordant.  An energy pace that is out of rhythm or synch can be readjusted by neural restructuring.  Emotions that are too loud or too quiet can be modulated.

Then, as each of us is able to more harmoniously blend our individual lifesong with the lifesongs of others, we will become more resiliently whole through conscious participation in the more holistically balanced composition of our blended lifesong.  The mystic Rumi said, "Your living pieces will form a harmony."

These closing words of Talbot's Holographic Universe provide a salute from quantum shamanism to resilience:

We are indeed on a shaman's journey, mere children struggle to become technicians of the sacred.  We are learning how to deal with the plasticity that is part and parcel of a universe in which mind and reality are a continuum, and in this journey one lesson stands out above all others:  As long as the formlessness and breathtaking freedom of the beyond remain frightening to us, we will continue to dream a hologram for ourselves that is comfortably solid and well-defined.  But we must always heed Bohm's warning that the conceptual pigeonholes we use to parse out the universe are of our own making...and when we outgrow any given set of conceptual pigeonhjoles we must always be prepared to move on, to advance from soul-state to soul-state...We are, as the aborigines say, just learning to survive in infinity (p. 302).


Clearly, the human race is resilient or we would not be here.  How has nature developed this robust quality in us that allows us to adapt and evolve and develop technologies?   Chaos Theory and Complexity offers perhaps the best metaphor to subsume all of our previous threads of investigation.  Chaos Theory models nature's dynamics in non-integer fractal dimensions.  This complements our Synergetics whose geometries model atomic structure in whole numbers.

Chaos permeates all scales of observation including macro-, meso-, and microscopic.  Quantum mechanics describes the unpredictability of rampant uncertainty at the tiniest scales.  Chaotic systems are likewise unpredictable yet deterministic.  They depend intimately on the system's initial conditions.  Imperceptible changes in the beginning value of a variable can make the outcome of a pocess impossible to predict.

When these two models merge, quantum chaos emerges.  Research suggests events inside atoms and molecules display chaotic features.  Scientists expect aspects of chaos to emerge repeatedly throughout the quantum realm.  We suggest that quantum chaos may be a means of "mind over matter" or wherein mindbody synchronizes in psychophysical restructuring.

A model is described in which subjective consciousness is generated through an unusual property of quantum non-locality. Chaos and bifurcation serve to link quantum transactions to global brain dynamics through the fractal architecture and dynamics of the central nervous system. The resulting process operates at the boundary between quantum computation and wave-particle reduction, thus combining optimality and free-choice. It is concluded that subjective consciousness has an evolutionary role as a non-computational predictive faculty, first emerging from chaotic excitations in single celled-organisms and that conscious anticipation, rather than computation, has been the principal factor promoting selective advantage in the development of the brain (King, 1997).

Consciousness and the Discovery of Quantum Mechanics

Despite the vast and diverse development of twentieth century science, one small dark cloud remains unchallenged and unsolved on the horizon of human understanding, the subjective nature of the conscious mind. One key to unravelling this paradox lies in our understanding of the principles of operation of the human brain. In this context, there has been a growing interest in both quantum mechanical ideas and chaos as possible answers.

Several of the pioneering quantum physicists, including Heisenberg, noticed that the uncertainty principle provides a physical basis for the brain to manifest free-will. If the brain is a quantum system, rather than a classically deterministic one, its states are not entirely determined because of quantum uncertainty. A single particle can occur anywhere within its wave function, despite the behaviour of many settling into a probability distribution determined by the wave. In the same way, free-will in a single brain could correspond to quantum uncertainty in the ongoing brain state. Eddington (1935) showed for example that the uncertainty of position of a synaptic vesicle was as great as the width of the membrane thus constituting a possible trigger for an unstable cascade, leading to a global change in brain state.

Chaotic Neurodynamics

More recently, there has been interest in the idea that the brain may utilize transition in and out of chaos (Schuster, 1986; King, 1991; Barton 1994, West, in this special issue) in its processing to form a complex system (Ruthen, 1993), displaying self-organization (Barton 1994), capable of generating new types of structure through bifurcation - a sudden qualitative change in structure occurring at a critical value of a continuously varying parameter.  Experimental evidence for chaos has been found in the electroencephalogram (EEG) and in the excitation of individual cells.

Walter Freeman (1991), (Skarda & Freeman 1987) has formulated a chaotic model for olfactory sensory recognition. In the olfactory cortex, excitations are globally distributed wave forms, much like a hologram in which coupled cells oscillate together, however the cell assemblies can oscillate chaotically in time.

Chaos permits the exploration of dynamical or phase space without the system becoming locked in an inappropriate mode. Sensitive dependence guarantees sensitivity to input.  The system will eventually bifurcate to create a new attractor. In addition to ensuring plasticity, responsiveness and full exploration of the space of possibilities, the model is tuned so that a decisive end state is guaranteed.

The use of 'holographic' distributed wave forms is also consistent with studies in which phase decoherence occurs with unexpected stimuli, to be replaced by coherent states once the brain has developed a stable representation of the situation.  An evoked potential of a randomly omitted regular stimulus displays decoherence when the pattern cannot be anticipated and coherence when the expected stimulus occurs. Chaotic systems can cohere through non-linear coupling.

Lorenz, the meteorologist who first described dynamical chaos in three dimensions, noted the example of the butterfly effect - the flap of a butterfly in Hawaii could, in principle, subsequently be amplified by a chaotic airflow into a hurricane in Tahiti. Because a chaotic system is sensitively dependent on its initial conditions, arbitrarily small perturbations are amplified into global fluctuations.

Sensitive dependence also ensures that the eventual state of the system cannot in principle be predicted from outside, because any simulation will eventually become inaccurate as a result of the amplification of small errors. In this respect, the chaotic model has similarities to the quantum approach in that future states of the system cannot be determined from outside e.g. by simulation. Neurodynamic sensitive dependence ensures the brain remains optimally responsive both to the environment and its own evolving states. It also provides a basis for quantum perturbation to become inflated into global fluctuations when the neurodynamics is critically poised.

The Fractal Expression of Chaos in the Brain

Many chaotic systems contain fractal invariant sets, which are self-similar on descending scales of size, much like a snowflake. Any fractal has a non-integer fractal dimension associated with it.  Both the broad frequency spectrum and the low correlation dimensions indicate the presence of chaos.

An added feature of the brain, which separates it from other potentially chaotic systems is that it is specifically constructed from the global level down to individual sub-molecular assemblies as a particular design of non-linear geometric and dynamic fractal.  Threshold tuning of a neuron to its input makes it an unstable bifurcator. The global many-to-many connections implicit in neural nets require the neuron to be a geometric fractal tree.  The neurons utilize several distinct neurotransmitters. The varying fractal dimension of distinct neuron types also determines their electrical conduction characteristics.

Furthermore the dynamics, not just on a global scale but on descending orders of magnitude, from neurosystem, to cell, to synapse, to ion channel, vesicle or microtubule (Hameroff, 1994; Penrose, 1994), to protein sub-assembly and neurotransmitter molecule all display non-linearities, chaos or fractal dynamics (King, 1991).

The synapse, for example contains complex feedbacks including non-linear reactions. The acetyl-choline ion channel requires two molecules to activate it, thus having quadratic, rather than linear concentration dynamics. Large molecules such as proteins are structurally and dynamically fractals, as a result of interacting on several levels of scale, from atom, through individual amino acids and sub-assemblies such as the alpha helix to global conformation changes. Voltage-gated ion channels have a fractal time delay in the closed state, (Liebovitch et. al. 1987).

The fractal architecture of the brain provides for a structured scale interaction, in which fluctuations at one level can be linked to instabilities at a higher one, if the system happens to be at unstable bifurcation or in chaos. The system can thus over-ride any micro-instabilities if it is evolving toward a stable outcome, but may become arbitrarily sensitive to them if it is unstable.

This leads to the hypothesis that the brains of multi-celled organisms have evolved in response to the selective advantage of properties emerging from fractally-organized chaos. From the point of view of instability, the law of mass action not withstanding, such a fractal architecture provides unique possibilities for the entire neurosystem to become responsive to fluctuations at the level of a single quantum. What particular advantages could accrue from such an apparently noisy process?

Noise would normally be an anathema which could corrupt a computational process. We know that artificial neural nets do have a use for random noise in terms of thermodynamic annealing. By shaking the system a little, one can jolt a sub-optimal state and cause it to roll down to a deeper hollow in the energy landscape, representing a better solution. A combination of fractal chaos and quantum mechanical fluctuation may provide qualitative advantages over such a primitive form of plasticity.

The Quantum Foundation of Chaotic and Statistical Fluctuation

At stake may be the very nature of statistical conceptions of the universe. What is the origin of randomness? Theories combining determinism and random variation arise in three contexts: The first is quantum theory, in which deterministic wave evolution is punctuated by reduction of the wave packet, giving a statistical distribution of states whose probabilities are determined by the wave amplitude. Quantum uncertainty thus represents the indeterminacy of a particle within its wave.

The second arises from chemical kinetics and other examples of statistical mechanics. Partial information about individual trajectories of populations of interacting particles results in a description in which the positions and momenta are based on random variables and statistical probabilities. Biological evolution could be included as a sophisticated example.

The third case consists of chaotic dynamical systems, whose evolution may be in principle deterministic, but cannot be predicted. Individual trajectories are often ergodic, wandering through phase space in a similar manner to a random variable, [JOURNEY METAPHOR:  In the dream journeys, our consciousness "wanders" around phase space, organically self-organizing a variety of sensory metaphors to describe the existential condition of the journeyer and seek creative solutions, much like a random variable with chaotic changes in trajectories].

When we come to consider a real world chaotic system based on molecules, we can see that Lorenz's butterfly effect extends naturally down in scale to a random kinetic encounter growing into a butterfly-sized fluctuation and hence a hurricane. So the underlying source of fluctuation in macroscopic chaos is kinetic randomness. However the matter does not stop there. All such molecular billiards are actually instances of quantum chaos (King 1989) (Mason, 2001).

Molecules are not simple classical billiard balls, but wave-particle assemblies which diffract according to their wave functions.  Quantum uncertainty of position is thus amplified by kinetic interaction to form the ultimate underlying source of global fluctuation in macroscopic chaotic systems. Collapse of the wave function thus lies at the core of chaotic fluctuation. King (1997) calls this amplification quantum inflation.

The duality between deterministic and probabilistic processes extends to many levels of organization. Consider biological evolution: Some traits, such as unusual plant alkaloids are clearly the result of historical accident giving rise to unique and varied forms, which need not exist by necessity and have come about opportunistically. Many others, from the existence of photosynthesizers to the parallel forms of marsupial and placental carnivores, appear to be shaped by environmental factors which are influential enough that repeated mutation and selective advantage will almost inevitably lead to the adoption of the trait. The former case is like the behaviour of a single photon and the latter is like a large flux, forming an interference pattern.

We thus have a distinction. On the one hand we have historical processes, in which one of many possible histories occurs. On the other, necessary processes in which causes precipitate effects, despite possibly having a statistical intermediate, through processes such as bifurcation. By extrapolation, one can argue that all historical processes, from flipping a coin to being picked up as a hitchhiker, are indirect consequences of quantum uncertainty and that we walk in an inflated quantum world.

Supporting this world view is the fractal quantum non-linearity of bio-molecular systems. We have already noted that large molecules such as proteins form fractals. The non-linearity of electron charge interaction has, as a direct consequence, the development of a spectrum of bonding types from the strong covalent and ionic links down to residual weak bond effects which permit the formation of the complex supra-molecular assemblies seen in living organisms. These non-linearities consequently support a fractal organization in which systems inherit emergent properties appearing on differing levels of scale.

Computational Intractability and Freedom of Choice

The evolving nervous system has a two-fold computational dilemma:

Firstly, predicting the open-environment, the key to survival, leads to computationally intractable problems in which conventional computation requires exponentiating time, clearly impractical to an organism confronting immediate life-or-death decisions. The travelling salesman problem - finding the shortest route around n cities is an example which theoretically grows super-exponentially like (n-1)! Probabilistic, dynamic or distributed processing approaches are required for even approximate solution in polynomial time. Certain logical propositions can also be formally undecidable.

Chaotic dynamical systems are also classically unpredictable. Although they can be simulated over short time scales, and sometimes more rapidly than the original process (rapid simulations), sensitive dependence will ultimately cause a divergence between simulation and reality. Consequently it is very likely that biological nervous systems have found alternatives to conventional computation which do not involve temporal impasse.

Recently an efficient form of quantum parallel computing involving wave function superposition has been devised, which is pertinent to the model here (Brown, 1994). In this approach wave functions are made to interfere so that they represent the results of numerical or logical calculations. Measurements of the wave function averaged over a number of reduction events leads to a calculation of a superposition of states. A large number could in principle be factorized in a few superimposed steps, through periodicities in the wave function, which would otherwise require vast and time-consuming classical computer power.

Secondly there is no single strategy for survival - the problem does not have a unique solution. Although survival of each individual is a unique historical process, it has at every point many potential avenues, some of which will be productive and some unproductive. Survival thus has more to do with deciding a viable course of action than finding the optimal solution to a problem. Antonio Damsio's (1994) Elliot with prefrontal damage affecting decision-making, planning and prediction with no other cognitive impairment illustrates this difference dramatically. Despite scoring normal on brain function and personality tests, his decision-making deficit had led to severe social problems.

Returning to quantum mechanics, we have a fundamental problem. Because quantum mechanics can only predict outcomes as probabilities, the theory cannot determine what actually happens. Schrödinger's cat paradox illustrates that we experience what I would term the principle of choice. When a cat is subjected to a Geiger counter device which could trigger its demise from a radioactive decay, we always find the cat either alive or dead. Quantum theory, by contrast, finds it both alive and dead with differing probabilities.

The Everett many-worlds interpretation puts this position at its clear extreme by saying all quantum outcomes become probability universes and all happen. All quantum calculations then become descriptions of a bifurcating universal wave function. There is then no collapse of the wave function, and no principle of choice. However our experience depends on unique histories which are the consequence of choices. We do not experience all the probability universes, but only that the cat is either alive or dead. Our subjective world thus looks like collapse of the wave function does occur.

This suggests that, to fully understand the nature of the conscious mind, we may require a deeper theory of the quantum world which unravels the principle of choice. Without this, quantum theory, despite its potentiality for parallel computing, may not help us understand the mind, because it claims free-will is merely a random variable. Although this might coincide with Edelman's Darwinian view of neural selection, it provides no hint of an answer to the relation between consciousness, cognition, intention and quantum uncertainty.

Transactional Supercausality

Several so-called hidden-variable theories have been developed, which attempt to explain the probabilistic aspect of quantum theory in terms of a deeper causality. Quantum non-locality remains a hot topic in physics in the light of the Bell's theorem experiments. In such experiments, a pair of spatially separated particles in a single wave display correlations which cannot be maintained by information exchanged at the speed of light (Clauser & Shimony, 1978; Aspect Dalibard & Roger, 1982). Once we know for example the polarization of one of two correlated photons, the other immediately (without requiring the time light takes to cross the apparatus) has complementary polarization. However neither has their polarization defined until the first measurement takes place, because the statistics violate Bell's inequalities governing all locally-causal processes. This gives rise to the possibility that there are many types of non-local association hidden in the probabilities of quantum mechanical predictions.

 King illustrates an approach which he believes shows what the conscious brain may be doing, based on the transactional interpretation of quantum mechanics (Cramer, 1986, King, 1989). This will require us to explore how space-time may be linked so that information is mutually shared between future and past in a relatively symmetrical hand shaking way which underlies the sequential nature of time we are familiar with. It will involve some elementary modern physics.

The four forces of nature are known to be mediated by radiation-particles or bosons which are termed virtual because they exist only for an interval determined by the uncertainty principle.  Just like the many-worlds explanation, all possible virtual particles exchanged between the charged electrons add up exactly to the force between them. By contrast, with a real photon, like the ones we see, the boundary conditions require a single particle of positive energy to be exchanged. The collection of all possible interactions thus reduces to one real interaction upon measurement.

In addition to representing the force between the two electrons, each virtual photon must have both an emitter and an absorber to satisfy the uncertainty relation in a finite space-time interval.  A real photon of positive energy can be created from a virtual one, if energy is pumped into the electromagnetic field, for example by oscillating it as in a radio transmitter. Since virtual particles can become real ones, real particles should also be subject to the same rules requiring both an emitter and an absorber. This is consistent with the universe emerging from a single wave function as a quantum fluctuation through the cosmic inflation arising with symmetry-breaking of the forces of nature.

One way of explaining quantum non-locality is through a hand-shaking space-time interaction between an emitter and its potential absorbers. The transactional interpretation does just this by postulating an advanced wave travelling back in time from the [future] absorber to the emitter. This interferes with the retarded wave, travelling in the usual direction from emitter to absorber to form the exchanged particle. Because both waves are zero-energy crossed phase waves, they interfere destructively outside the particle path but constructively between the emitter and absorber. The emitter sends out an offer wave and the absorber responds with a confirmation wave. Together they form a photon, just as an anti-electron (positron) travelling backwards in time is the same as an electron travelling forwards. Electron-positron creation-annihilation are actually advanced and retarded solutions to the same interaction.

Although the transactional interpretation is completely consistent with quantum mechanics, it leads to some very counter-intuitive ideas. When we see a distant quasar, in a sense the quasar radiated the photon we see long ago, only because our eyes are also here to perceive it. In a sense the quasar anticipated our presence and, despite its vastly greater energy, it may not be able to radiate without that presence  and the other potential absorbers in its very distant future.

This would imply that non-locality is observer dependent in a way which prevents any single observer having access to all the boundary conditions and hence logical prediction of the outcomes. This would prevent the universe from being computationally or deterministically predicted, but it would not prevent quantum non-locality from displaying relationships in which future states had an influence through being boundary conditions.

In the transactional interpretation, wave function collapse corresponds to a collapse of a transaction between all potential emitters and absorbers to a single transaction between the emitter and the selected absorber. Although this hand-shaking interaction looks "random" to the observer, it may really be a complex system interaction manifesting the principle of choice, which varies in a pseudo-random manner because it is linked to many other space-time states of the universe. Because it has boundary conditions involving future states of the system, it cannot be predicted from the initial conditions and temporal determinism fails.

We are left with a description in which correlations in wave-particle reductions operating in a manner consistent with quantum computation schemes may display an indirect predictive feature, which is unavailable to classical systems, because the initial conditions are insufficient to determine the quantum outcomes. King (1997) denotes this transactional supercausality, or transcausality.

Transcausality differs from Clerk Maxwell's proverbial kinetic demon in that it conforms to the probability interpretation of quantum mechanics for each measurement, despite possibly reflecting non-local correlations. It thus does not violate any physical laws, such as making one side of a barrier hotter and another cooler by selectively letting through the fast molecules (which is anyway made impossible for a Maxwell's demon by quantum uncertainty). Neither can such non-local processes can be regarded as computations, because the initial conditions provided any observer are incomplete boundary conditions. Transaction may also explain the arrow of time as a reflecting boundary condition at the origin of the universe, giving rise to a real retarded positive-energy universe.

The Evolutionary Origin of Conscious Brains

Nervous systems may thus have evolved in the following steps (King, 1996):

(1) Chaotic excitation as a universal sense organ: In terms of the theory, the single eucaryote cell became chaotically excitable, because this provided a universal sense organ, responsive to quantum perturbations by chemical orbital interactions [smell], membrane solitons and phonons [sound] and incident photons [light]. Quantum sensitivity is well known in the senses of modern nervous systems.  Similar arguments apply to sound and the sense of smell e.g. in the detection of pheromones, where a single molecule may be sufficient to provoke a response in the organism.

Chaotic excitability would have made the single cell in a direct sense conscious of its surroundings in the sense that its global dynamical state would be sensitively responsive to its environment, however the theory also hypothesizes that chaotic excitation also provided access to a non-computational form of predictivity based on quantum non-locality, in which future states of the system leave their mark on a pattern of related transactions in a coherently excited cell, with a time scale determined by the lifetime of exchanged excitations. Even a time scale in milliseconds would provide a critical advantage. Consciousness thus also becomes conscious anticipation.

(2) Space-time anticipation in nervous systems: Multi-celled nervous systems would then have evolved to utilize this form of space-time anticipation in a manner compatible with and complementing computation. The basis of this is the many-to-many neuron tree structure which provides a holographic transform of the information, and fractal rendering of the system and its instabilities down to the level of the synapse and ion channel. Chaotic neurosystem oscillations allow for linked sub-populations of neurons to enter a coherent oscillation through bifurcation. Bifurcation into a particular stable or chaotic attractor could thus perform a computation through a superposition of states as outlined in the previous discussion on quantum computation. In the indeterminate or unstable case it could go further and generate a unique anticipatory choice through quantum non-locality. [Relates to the CRP process of natural healing when consciousness deconstructs to the groundstate of chaotic consciusness.]

(3) The quantum-inflated brain: The subjectively conscious brain then emerges from the unusual non-local space-time properties of quantum chaos.

The structure of the brain can be described in terms of three dynamically-interacting components: (1) The entire cortex is activated by basal brain centres, whose ascending distributed pathways fan out across the cortex and provide the activation that supports waking alertness and modulates light and dreaming sleep. These act in very much the way an energy parameter does in any dynamical system. (2) The cerebral cortex along with its connections to the thalamus. The cortex is broadly divided by the Sylvian fissure between parietal and temporal sensory and association areas on the one hand and the frontal areas on the other, which involve motor action and its abstraction in terms of intentionality, decision-making and survival aims - all future-directed. (3) Linking these is a set of feedback loops, broadly termed the limbic system, which provides a central connection between the frontal areas, emotion and the capacity to store and access experiences in sequential memory as realized in the hippocampus.

The mammalian cerebral cortex supports a distributed representation of reality, in which different aspects of experience are processed in parallel in a modular manner. The independent representation of movement and colour (Zeki, 1992), as well as modular representation of specific attributes such as facial expressions, music, verbal articulacy and semantics, along with the capacity of such areas to adapt and change their functional assignments under stimulation, illustrates how the cortex is organised as a distributed dynamical processing system.

Just as spatial representations and sensory impressions are part of an internal model of reality constructed by the brain, our experience of time is similarly a constructive process. This is illustrated by the experiments of Libet (1989), in which the subjective timing of a conscious sensation refers it backwards in time to the initial sensory stimulus, a short interval before the cortex actually became activated.

The use of phase coherence in central nervous processing is essentially similar to making a quantum measurement through beats, the basis of the uncertainty principle. Phase coherence could thus provide globally the space-time relationship implied by the transactional interpretation.

Much of cortical structure, particularly including the role of the frontal lobes can be explained in terms of developing a space-time model of reality, in which time is represented, in terms of the past in memory systems and the future in terms of much of prefrontal organization, forming a dynamic model of will, action and choice in much the same way sensory association areas abstract sensory input. A critical aspect of this space-time modelling is being able to consciously anticipate a prospective situation and comprehend it as a sequential event, spanning past, present and future.

Some of this anticipation involves planning and logical choice, but a considerable part is involved in being able to run a smooth simulation of experience from the past, through the present, into the future. MacLean (1991) describes this as follows: "It was as though premeditation required not only the ability to plan, but also the step by step memory of what is planned, or as one might say a 'memory of the future'." MacLean suggests that the cerebellum might function in coordination with the cerebral cortex as a rapid dynamical simulator. These principles however extend to the cerebral cortex itself just as meaningfully.

The nature of choice and decision-making in transactional supercausality requires detailed philosophical investigation. The system is physically indeterminate, and possesses the basis for free-will in the principle of choice. However, in the transactional interpretation, quantum non-locality allows contingent future states to form part of the boundary conditions. Free-will may thus involve a mixture of genuine freedom to determine future outcomes as a watershed decision is made and a type of temporal sensitivity for the future contingencies in which free-will is another kind of temporal sense, feeling for the possibilities already laid out by the non-local interaction. The nature of such free-will may remain causally paradoxical for a given observer, because free-will is not simply a random variable but a non-local phenomenon partly dependent on contingent future states.

Cognition can be modelled in the following way, which is similar to Freeman's model for olfaction. The problem sets up stable boundary conditions, just as sensory input does in sensory recognition. The brain then generates a chaotic excitation which explores the space of possible configurations. A solution arises when the resulting chaotic excitation bifurcates to form a stable self-consistent attractor.

If a series of small bifurcations occur resulting from successive [quantum] computational steps, we would say the conclusion was arrived at deductively, but if however a major global bifurcation is required to reach self-consistency, an intuitive leap of understanding may result. The transition from chaos thus models the sudden moment of insight - the "eureka", deductive cognition, sensory recognition and decision-making. Computational predictivity is thus complemented by conscious anticipation enabled through quantum transaction and manifested in the transition from chaos.

Conclusion: Conscious Anticipation and the Physical Universe Consciousness is not just a globally-modulated functional monitor of attention as Crick (1994) might have us believe, but a dual aspect to physical reality. Although subjective consciousness, by necessity, reflects the constructive model of reality the brain adopts in its sensory processing and associative areas, the internal model is not sufficient to explain the subjective aspect of conscious experience.

Conscious experience underlies and is a necessary foundation for the physical world view. Without subjective conscious experience, it remains doubtful whether the physical world would have an actual existence. It is only through stabilities of subjective conscious experience that we come to infer the objective physical world model of science as an indirect consequence. For this reason, subjective consciousness may be too fundamental a property to be explained, except in terms of fundamental physical principles, as a dual manifestation of quantum non-locality, which directly manifests the principle of choice in free-will.

The evolution of the brain has depended not only on understanding the environment, but on competing with individuals of the same species and others for survival under unpredictable and changing situations. To quote Richard Leakey (1994):

If .. individuals were able to monitor their own behaviour, rather than merely operate as computerlike automatons ... by extrapolation they might be able to predict the behaviour of others under the same circumstances. This monitoring ability ... is one definition of consciousness, and it would confer considerable advantage in those individuals that possessed it. Chimpanzees ... experience a significant degree of reflective consciousness. ... In humans, mind reading goes beyond simply predicting what others will do under certain circumstances: it includes how others might feel.

Survival in crisis depends as much on hunch, mind reading and quick reaction as on computational deduction. Despite emerging one and a half million years ago, the genus Homo took until approximately 35,000 years ago to begin the explosive manifestation of culture. From the unchanged tool making during the long intervening period, it is difficult to conclude that computation, as such, was even a feature of the human mind until culture developed, let alone a prominent aspect of animal behaviour. It is likewise difficult to reduce the hunting of a leopard or the flight of a gazelle to anything other than conscious anticipation.

While one may acknowledge that computation is implicit in the functioning of all neural nets, even humans, despite having 10^10 neurons and 10^15 synapses and representing the pinnacle of cognitive evolution are inefficient computers by comparison with a simple pocket calculator. The natural conclusion is that evolution has promoted conscious anticipation, rather than computation per se as its principal instrument of selective advantage.

The potential quantum basis of conscious anticipation leads to a stunning re-evaluation of our role in the universe. Far from being the most fragile and improbable of physical systems, the conscious brain may manifest the most fundamental aspects of quantum reality. Furthermore these aspects arise from the re-interaction of the four wave-particle forces which originally emerged through cosmological symmetry-breaking, to form their ultimate non-linear interactive structures - the large supra-molecular complexes of cell-biology. It may be that only in such structures can the cooperative effects of quantum non-locality be fully realized, making us, despite our long and tortuous evolutionary history, literally a manifestation of quantum cosmology.

"We almost never think of the present, 
and when we do, it is only to see 
what light it throws on our plans for the future". 
(Pascal )

A model of the mind-brain relationship is developed in which novel biophysical principles in brain function generate a dynamic possessing attributes consistent with consciousness and free-will. The model invokes a fractal link between neurodynamical chaos and quantum uncertainty. Transactional wave collapse allows this link to be utilized predictively by the excitable cell, in a way which bypasses and complements formal computation. The formal unpredictability of the model allows mind to interact upon the brain, the predictivity of consciousness in survival strategies being selected as a trait by organismic evolution.


Recent discoveries by Russian scientists Peter Gariaev and Vladimir Poponin shed tremendous light on our proposal that the human being is a transducer of universal energy and consciousness -- essentially a biocomputer.  The new feature of this research is the ability to physically demonstrate subtle fields emerging from the quantum foam or vacuum potential.  This makes the effect quantifiable and measurable -- objective.

This takes the phenomenon and subjectivity of consciousness out of the realm of quantum metaphysics and plants it firmly under the rubric of hard science.  It heralds the unification of quantum mechanical and chaotic dynamics in human consciousness.  We can now model the human bio-computer.

Poponin boldly suggests that this deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying subtle energy phenomena include many of the observed alternative healing phenomena and includes a physical theory  of consciousness.  This hypothesis is based on a precise quantitative background and combines both quantum mechanics and complexity or chaos dynamics in a startling and compelling new way.  It posits that some new field structure is being excited from the physical vacuum by an intrinsic ability which emerges through DNA.

His DNA Phantom Effect demonstrates a dynamic new field in the vacuum substructure by bombarding it with coherent laser light and coupling it to conventional electromagnetic fields.  The experimental protocols for this proceedure are rigorous, and have been reproduced in Moscow and at Stanford.  R. Miller, I. Miller, and Webb (2001) are now consulting on the project to suggest the next research directions and applications.

Both quantitative and qualitative data are crucial for the development of a new unified nonlinear quantum field theory which includes the physical theory of consciousness.

The DNA phantom field effect may be interpreted as a manifestation of a new physical vacuum substructure which has been previously overlooked.  It is perhaps a specific example of a more general category of electromagnetic phantom effects.

Results of the experiments described by Poponin showed that when DNA was put in a scattering chamber and bombarded with laser light a phantom was revealed, even when the DNA itself had been removed. Researchers hypothesize that some new field structure is being excited from the physical vacuum.  Its origin is related to physical DNA.  As yet, they have found no other substance which recreates or emulates the effect of the DNA molecule.  They bombard it with weak coherent laser radiation in two frequencies.  The intensity of the scattered light is measured, as well as non-linear localized excitations.

This suggests that the electromagnetic phantom effect is a more fundamental phenomenon which can be used to explain other observed phantom effects, though not to be confused with the often misinterpreted secondary emission of electrons seen in Kirlian Photography and dubbed "phantoms." [ref. R. Miller on "The Physical Mechanisms of Kirlian Photography," Psychoenergetic Systems, Stanley Krippner, ed., 1974].  Evidence suggests a relationship to the phenomena of [endogynous] bioluminescence, liquid crystals, and superconductivity, which we intend to pursue.

Other research (Childre, 1992; Paddison, 1992) suggests that consciousness is non-localized in the bodymind. Joseph Chilton Peace in his latest, The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit, points out that we have five neural centers or brains--and establishes that our fourth and most recently developed brain is located in the head while the fifth is located in the heart.

It is the dynamic interaction of this head brain (intellect) and heart brain (intelligence), of biology and spirit, that allows transcendence from one evolutionary place to the next.  Pearce declares we are quite literally, made to transcend.  He says, "Transcendence is our biological imperative, a state we have been moving toward for millennia."

In less scientific and more mystical terms, we emerge through self-organization from the Void and to the Void we can return for renewal and sustenance.  It is, in fact the Heart Sutra that informs us that "Form is not other than Void; Void is not other than Form."  Our human form is not other than this void, and biophysics now demonstrates this quantitatively and qualitatively.

We are more fundamentally electromagnetic, rather than chemical beings.  The void state, "cosmic zero," is the primal matrix and proportionately our most fundamental reality.  In essence, we emerge from pre-geometrically structured nothingness, and DNA is the projector of that field which sets up the stress gradients in the vacuum or quantum foam to initiate that process of embryonic holography, (Miller and Webb, 1973).

The quintessence of the four cosmic elements of space, time, energy and matter is Light.  In some strange way, light is the link connecting them all.  At some level, the entire electromagnetic spectrum can be considered transductions of light at various frequencies.  Poetically, we can consider matter as "frozen" light.  In much the same metaphorical sense, consciousness and our being may be also.  Mystics of all ages consider the fundamental principles of creation to be Light and Sound.  Now science may be tangibly valiadating that spiritual intuition.

Chaosophy 2002 Contents

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