How Jungian Psychology, Brain Research, Quantum Physics, and Systems Science Lead to Pansystemology and Depth Psychology
by Nicole de Bavelaere

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The attempt to live according to the notion that the fragments are really separate is, in essence, what has led to the growing series of extremely urgent crises that is confronting us today. —David Bohm (Quantum Physicist)


Like other German-speaking scientists of his time, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst C. G. Jung (1875-1961) wished to establish psychology as a scientific field. He had in mind to find “a description of nature integrating both physis and psyche” (Meier, 2001, p. 176). To reach his goal, he had to solve the duality of unobservable mind versus measurable matter. This problem still halts both science and psychology on the threshold of a new paradigm shift and limits our interpretation of the psyche to an exclusive by-product of biological processes. As we will see, a new approach, pansystemology, offers a solution.

American physicist and philosopher of science T. S. Kuhn qualified psychology of pre-science because its paradigm, or general theory, is not final nor strictly defined (cited in Eysenck, 2009, p. 10). Psyche cannot be directly measured thus the field which studies it has no fixed boundaries. However, pre-science does not exclude science and does not imply pseudo-science. Quite the contrary. Psychology, firmly based on science, remains open to new insights which might emerge from the outskirts of the present scientific model. Psychology has thus the power to exchange with many sciences such as biology, neurology, sociology and notably system science. This explains why the founder of General Systems Theory, Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1965), argued that system science can address problems highlighted by psychology. Modelled on a “mechanistic universe,” sciences have the tendency to sideline “regulation, organization, goal-directedness, hierarchical order and wholeness” (p. 3).

This openness of psychology is one reason why from 1909 to 1913, Jung regularly invited Albert Einstein to dine at his home. Einstein urged him to find a scientific way, a formula, which would integrate the reality of the psyche into the scientific model. With Wolfgang Pauli, the well-known quantum physicist and father of the neutrinos theory, Jung tried to do this as they met and assiduously corresponded between 1932 and 1958 (Meier, 2001). Pauli also turned to his fellow quantum physicist William Heisenberg. In Pauli’s words, they tried to “find a new language that could make the hidden dimension in nature accessible to the intellect…neutral with respect to the distinction between psyche and matter” (p. xli). They did not succeed.

The primary cause of this failure is the impossibility for a solely analytic model to accept that the physical world might only be a part and expression of a wider psyche instead of the other way around. However, this changed thanks to a hypothesis created by Einstein’s protégé, David Bohm (1980), that quanta follow an invisible implicate order which organizes them. This hypothesis not only led Bohm to rewrite quantum physics; in 2015, researchers discovered physical evidence to support it (Yen & Gao, 2015).

Now, many other macroscopic quantum phenomena bring Bohm’s hypothesis into full scientific acceptance. After all, the ancestors of chemists—alchemists—incorporated their manipulations into a universal gnosis. They viewed matter as a product of a psyche submitted to time and space rather than the other way around. A similar paradigm allowed Jung to declare that everything is psyche; Einstein, that everything is energy; and Bohm, that an implicate order, a type of field, organizes matter. This trajectory is worth pursuing.

The implicate order is thus the blueprint, a supportive, invisible and universal language of nature. Its hidden frame is etched by the organisation of physical structures, such as the human brain, to allow the expression of precise functions. Because individuals share the same brain organization, their creations can reflect this hidden frame, this invisible order, and its laws. This can be verified in three stages. First, we need to find a model which fits the description of the implicate order: the Taoist model. Then, we need to see if it fits with human brain structures and functions and if its phases agree with their development, maturation and specific uses by genders. Pansystemology develops this as the LIFE model, in perfect harmony with the brain. Finally, we need to find the frame of this model in sacred texts and art across the globe. In agreement with this, the model is present in the Pentateuch and its connected religions, in Taoism, in the concept of Maat of ancient Egypt, in alchemy, in legends, and in art.

Pansystemology (pan as in universal model and systemology as in system science) is the study and application of this model on which the fabric of nature, as well as the different worlds of human expression (physical, emotional, conceptual and social), are built. Pansystemology was presented at Trento University in 2015 at the UNESCO-endorsed First Conference on Anticipation (system science).

In harmony with the Tao and other traditions, and with brain research results, pansystemology offers to study and apply the LIFE model, which is the physical and psychological expression of Bohm’s blueprint. Nature and humans, including their physical attributes are fractal mirrors of Bohm’s implicate order, this master blueprint. Fractals include the idea of detailed patterns, but also of internal function repeating itself. Hence, Nature is an image of this order with attributes that can either be inhibited or manifested. This also goes for human beings, in line with Jung’s (1954) idea of the “Imago Dei,” the “God-image” in man. The human brain unconsciously expresses this model.

The mainstream positivist-type scientists frown upon the idea of an Unus Mundus as put forward by Jung, of reality in which the physical is a result of a primordial invisible reality (Roth, 2011) or ordering structure (Bohm, 1980). They see this as an attempt to resuscitate vitalism, though it is not actually the case. Vitalism was chiefly interested in the difference between living and non-living, and it failed in its definitions. Analytic science is best adapted to understand what is measurable.

However, as theoretical biologist Robert Rosen (1991) argues, the processes of life are not wholly explicable by the current laws of physics and chemistry. Darwinism and the identification of DNA gave an almost fatal blow to a more holistic approach to life (William, 2003). New developments in epigenetics (Lipton, 2015), as well as research into quantum physics and human brain neurobiology, tend to suggest the possibility of an entelechy principle (Driesch, 1912); of an unaccounted-for element, a field, and laws other than mechanical or chemical ones, that direct growth and life. The ideas of French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who, fifty years before Darwin, viewed evolution in its cooperative and dynamic elements, are now starting to make more sense. Indeed, the notion that we are at the sole mercy of our genetic inheritance is erroneous. Only 2% of illnesses have a single gene cause (Lipton, 2015). Epigenetics, with its environmental and psychological features, is now the new frontier (Roth, 2014).

With Bohm’s implicate order, evolution is a movement in nature which tends toward a perfect mirroring and expression of this primordial order under the constraints of time and space. It should be considered a guiding principle of epigenetics even if only hypothetically. Bohm (1980) himself boldly defined the manifested world as an explicate order. He went so far as to work with neurosurgeon Karl H. Pribram on the description of quantum minds. This hypothesis also opens the door to a different comprehension of what the psyche might be.

Recent neurobiological studies on the brain have focused on the capacity of brain oscillations to switch different genes on or off (Gu & Spitzer, 1995). Research on the practice of meditation shows that we can modify the type of oscillations our brain manifests. Similarly, research has demonstrated that cocaine users can inhibit cocaine cues (Volkow et al., 2010). With the prevailing scientific dogma, it is impossible for brains afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, or severe hydrocephaly to function normally. However, the literature is teeming with cases attesting to the contrary. For example, Mortimer (1997, cited in Bialystok et al. 2007) says that between 10% and 40% of the brain autopsies he performed exposed damages exceeding criteria for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) with patients showing no sign of cognitive impairment before their death. In the same vein, 636 senior participants followed cognitive tests regularly before their deaths. In post-mortem brain analysis, 12% of those presenting Alzheimer’s disease or infarcts hallmarks belonged to cognitively healthy participants (Tyas, Snowdon, Desrosiers, Riley, & Markesbery, 2007). If we consider the psyche as a sole product of brain structure processes, this is impossible.

A recent brain study found that thoughts exist even in the case of clinically deceased patients (Parnia et al., 2014). We also know that in some cases when a lesion occurs, functions can use structures not meant for them (Goldberg, 2009). That “structure determines function” and not the other way around, however, is a fundamental tenet of biology. These cases and others illustrate that affected brain structures do not always prevent the expression of functions (Lorber, 1970s; Tyas et al., 2007). Jung’s (1952) definition of the brain allows these observations. He saw it as a “decoder, which would have the function to transform the tension or the relative infinite intensity of the psyche [archetypal world] in us unto perceptible frequencies” (p. 97).

How Jungian Psychology, Brain Research, Quantum Physics, and Systems Science Lead to Pansystemology and Depth Psychology
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Einstein (1920) suggested that his model―which dislodged vitalism―did not dismiss ether, the bearer of the vitalist fifth element (named the “Ka” by ancient Egyptians, “Chi” by the Chinese, or the ‘soul” by Christians). His model, in fact, implied that the apparently void space between atoms has physical properties. He argued, “The special theory of relativity does not compel us to deny ether” (p. 9). He also noted that “Newton’s mechanics was shaken by the experiments with b-rays and rapid cathode rays” (p. 7).

Logician, mathematician, and philosopher Kurt Gödel (1931), who received the Albert Einstein Award in 1951, demonstrated that any strict axiomatic system of arithmetic would inevitably leave some arithmetical truths unprovable, thus incomplete. Formal axiomatic reasoning cannot render the whole reality or the essence of a complete knowledge (what we incorrectly liken to science). This observation figures prominently in the theoretical argument from biologist Robert Rosen. A computing model cannot completely describe complex living systems (Rosen, 1991). Hence we need a broader model to better understand life and psyche without the need to dismiss the model used for measurable matter.

We must admit that although incomplete, the analytical point of view allowed prodigious advancements in technology and improved the living conditions for many. After rapid material expansion, alas, ignoring the profound psychological reality of humans generates an explosion of problems, from the degradation of the environment to the proliferation of mental illnesses. In any given year, close to 18.8 million Americans aged 18 and older will suffer from a depressive disorder (roughly 10%). Of this number, half suffer from a major depressive disorder. Twice as many women than men will suffer from it (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 1998). Depressive disorders are also appearing earlier in life. The average age of onset of this illness was 29 years old in 1996. Recent statistics rates it at just 14.5 years (Klerman, Weissman, 1998; NIMH, 2011). One on five adult suffers from an affective disorder (Regier, D.A.; Narrow, W.E.; Rae D.S.; et al., 1993). Worldwide, major depressive disorders rose by 37% between 1990 and 2010 (Murray et al., 2012).

The analytic tool can only grasp and accept as reality what has space and time coordinates. Within this limit, the individual lives in a sealed box of matter; he is a mere object at the mercy of other objects. As Heisenberg (1974) observed, “Where no guiding ideals are left to point the way, the scale of values disappears and with it the meaning of our deeds and sufferings, and at the end can lie only negation and despair. Religion is, therefore, the foundation of ethics, and ethics the presupposition of life” (p. 219). Together, psychology and pansystemology have the power to shine a light on religion.

Science dismisses psyche as it seems vaguely connected and limited to emotions and thus contrary to the logical and analytical, hence scientific, method. New brain research confirms, however, that cognition is bathed and unconsciously influenced by emotionality (Damasio, 1995). Pure objectivity is impossible. Jung (1963) says that we perceive “the intellect as a faculty which can think and stand outside of oneself. Thanks to this, we pretend to create a kind of objective Archimedes point outside of the earth, from which the intellect has somehow the capability to be by itself” (p. 31).[My translation from French]

Students and the general public often ignore that the scientific point of view of reality is in part theoretical and always a work-in-progress. We are led to believe that only what is accepted by mainstream science is real.

Von Bertalanffy, as well as Jung, rejected the trend of behaviorists to see in human actions the single expression of drives and motivation of an animal nature. Of course, we may limit people through abuse, education, and consumerism in such a way that they fall victim to their instincts and are hindered in their normal psychological evolution or from realizing their full potential. It is a two-way street.

For Von Bertalanffy, as for Jung and many others, human nature has traits which we cannot find in laboratory rats. He referred to the behaviorists’ tendency as “zoomorphism.” He saw Freudian psychoanalysis under the same light. Humans are driven by symbols he advanced. The world of publicity seems to attest to this. Developmental psychologist Charlotte Bühler, who knew von Bertalanffy, as well as the works of C. G. Jung, had similar views on the importance of the symbolic world for humans. Both she and Jung, among others, developed stage theory: physical and psychological growth in humans follow a predictable sequence of phases. Pansystemology develops neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean’s (1998) evolutionary triune brain into a pentane brain (five evolutionary phases) with the aid of LIFE inspired by the Taoist model.

One of the differences between Jung and Freud lies here. Their beliefs in how best to free people of their psychological shackles were irreconcilable. Jung saw that symbolism was essential to individuation, while Freud wanted nothing to do with that concept. To Freud, everything human sprouts uniquely from the libido. Jung (1931) strongly disagreed. Freud thought there was a need to concentrate on, to bring awareness to, and express this aspect, while Jung thought the patient ought to be in touch with symbolism and identity.

Through regulation and inhibition, the LIFE model indicates that with Freud’s theories people are forever imprisoned in the world of the analytical and the R-complex (reptilian brain) aspects with little possibility of breaking their chains. With Jung, a window opens, and there is an opportunity to discern the reality and universality of the Self which can then bring coherence to the whole personality. The frog can become a prince. Brain research confirms this through the fact that of the two regulators of the human brain, one acts without our awareness and is associated with the medial prefrontal cortex and the symbolic world, while the other is conscious and related to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The unconscious regulator is the first primordial censor (Bechara et al., 1997, 2000a) and allows decision-making (Bechara et al., 2000), choice of action, and independence of associations owed to reinforced anterior stimulus (Rolls et al., 1994; Rolls, 1996, 2004).

It is similar to a computer instantly applying patterns echoed from the unconscious. It is hypothesized to mediate a phenomenological “feeling of rightness,” dubbed FOR, which allows an immediate appreciation of the appropriateness and accuracy of information, of a response, or of an action (Gilboa & Moscovitch, 2002; Moscovitch & Winocur, 2002). It precedes the conscious, elaborate cognitive verification of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the second regulator. In a first step, it is impermeable to influences from it triggered by familiarity (Page, 2013, 2014). Through the first regulator, we have the ability to help or hinder nature in its quest for expressing the perfect primeval model. Humans have the unique ability to access this world of information through symbols and dreams. Jung would say that in it lies the collective unconscious and archetypal world.

If we follow our hypothesis and experience, dreams might express a diagnosis of the state of the general or particular LIFE. When I experience a “songe”— a word in French which alludes to a dream with a message able to guide me in the present or to hint at the future should I continue along the same path I’m pursuing—I receive information regarding the condition on how well I realize the blueprint. As a confirmation of this hypothesis, structures of the brain active during sleep predominantly include the medial prefrontal cortex (Kryger, 2011) associated with the more holistic unconscious first regulator. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, associated with the second regulator, is silenced during sleep (Muzur, Pace-Schott, & Hobson, 2002).

By touching the world of archetypes, symbols, and identity, Jung also opened the door to psychosynthesis. Its founder, Roberto Assagioli was part of the Zurich Freud Society, the group of early psychoanalytical pioneers. The central emphasis of his approach was on the organism’s striving for wholeness, on the human potential for growth and expansion of consciousness. By claiming that psychosynthesis is the result of a healthy integration, Freud indirectly inferred that psychosynthesis should be the goal of psychoanalysis (Freud, 1919).

The skeleton of this implicate model lays in all the great traditions, the most accessible to us being the Chinese model of five elements and the similar Indian Ayurveda model. Medical experience and observation confirmed both over a span of at least 2,000 years. Regarding the Tao, Jung had this to say:

You are aware, of course, that Taoism formulates psychological principles which are of a very universal nature. As a matter of fact, they are so all-embracing that they are, as far as they go, applicable to any part of humanity. (in Ellenberger, 1975, pp. 559-560)

I witnessed the application in medicine (in biomedical cybernetics) of this model drawn from Taoism from 1989 to 2014 via approximatively 10,000 patients. I saw how it could help individuals regain balance physically. I believe it would do the same psychologically. My last three books discuss these hypothesis, findings, and the first developments of this approach into psychology: pansystemology. This model is the language Pauli and Jung were seeking. Science, which is interested chiefly in the world of the second brain regulator and which is a tool to comprehend the “what” and the “how,” cannot encompass psyche, which is a subject: a “who” interested in “why.” This function belongs to psychology and to the first brain regulator.

If depth psychology were to study this model and develop it further, I believe that Jung’s dream of bridging the world of symbolism and psyche with the physical world into a holistic-thus-coherent reality would be fully realized. Then the path toward freedom from an incoherent and dualistic vision of mind/matter would be cleared. From hygiene, which drove us away from constant physical scourges, we could embrace emotional hygiene. We would be much closer to “know thyself” and, in my opinion, of becoming what Jung named Homo Totus: A Complete Human.



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Nicole de Bavelaere (author Ariane Page) is a member of the ISSS (international society for systems science) and of BPS (British Psychological Society). As she pursues her Master in Psychology, she seeks to develop a new field, pansystemology, which integrates results from brain studies into a systemic approach of Jungian psychology.