Updated: Feb 3
Chaos has been defined as the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, out of chronological order, and outcomes that are determined as a result of the interaction, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and, I add, abstract art and human communication.
An example from the physical world:
I recently came across an interesting video posted on Ted Talks having to do with the nature of bubbles. the creation of bubbles from soap and water showed that the addition of a second bubble to the first (joining) produced a double; Two bubbles sharing a common surface. Adding a third, fourth and fifth did the same; they continue to share one common surface.
It is when the sixth bubble is added that something remarkable happens, the bubbles spontaneously reorganize and create a small box in the center which separates the surfaces of the six bubbles - a spontaneous reorganization with no common surfaces. The ‘tipping point’ is a concept that attempts to explain where, when, how this reorganization takes place.
“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality,” Albert Einstein.
An example from the art world:
A painting seen day or night, in one room or another, hung high or low, surrounded by other paintings or alone will affect one’s viewing experience.
Changing a color or brushstroke within a painting changes not only that element, but the surrounding colors and the experience of the entire painting. And who can say the red you see is the same as the red I see?
I suggest the reader see Reds, a play about Mark Rothko.
An example from the human world:
We exist as individuals necessarily embedded in a social network of humans; we did not choose this existence . . . we are thrown ’into this life.
Our lives are co-created with significant others and affected by the world in which we live. This life cannot be deconstructed, that is, to determine any singular contribution to outcome.
An example from the psychotherapy world.
The common scientific approach to psychotherapy is to look for pathology, make a diagnosis and implement a plan to treat his or her symptoms.
I would much prefer to understand a person and together make sense of the existing symptoms. A psychological diagnosis cannot be treated with a specific procedure as in a medical model.
Every person and each therapy necessarily follows a different course. As chaos theory suggests, one could not predict the course of any dialogue, and every symptom cannot represent a specific cause.