|Wendy Behary Diets Brain Science William Doherty Etienne Wenger Mind/Body Couples Linda Bacon Narcissistic Clients Clinical Excellence Men in Therapy Symposium 2012 The Future of Psychotherapy Clinical Mastery Great Attachment Debate Ethics Challenging Cases Mindfulness Alan Sroufe Couples Therapy CE Comments Trauma David Schnarch Anxiety Mary Jo Barrett Attachment Gender Issues Attachment Theory Future of Psychotherapy Community of Excellence|
|Complexity Choir - Page 3|
In Search of Integration
When I first began to explore the idea of integration, it intuitively felt right that integration would be important to our individual and relational well-being. But I knew of no scientific explanation for why this might be the case.
Integration is mentioned, almost as an aside, in numerous disciplines, from the study of emotion and social functions to research into the brain itself. Yet none of these fields seems to give integration a central role, nor do they clarify why integration would be a good thing in life. Take for example the various scientific fields that study emotion. You might be surprised that there is no universal definition of emotion, even among emotion researchers. When I was reviewing the science of emotion for my first book, I discovered formulations like these: Emotion is a fundamental part of the person across the lifespan. Emotion connects body to brain. Emotion links one person to another. Each of these perspectives described an integrative process—yet integration itself was not discussed directly. Perhaps it was being an outsider to emotion research that helped me to see the common feature underlying their quite distinct definitions of what emotion is, what it does, and how it manifests itself in our lives across time.
What role could integration and emotion play in our definition of the mind as an embodied and relational process? Why do people use terms such as emotional well-being or emotionally healthy or emotionally close to label mentally healthy states? And what about such expressions as emotional breakdown or emotionally upset?
As a psychotherapist, I'd worked closely with many people in states of distress, states that to me seemed to be characterized as either rigidity or chaos—or both. Individuals might be stuck in depression or paralyzed by fear. They'd find themselves swept into manic rages or flooded with traumatic memories. Sometimes they'd fluctuate between these extremes, stuck in a whirlwind of energy and information, terrified by minds out of control.
But why rigidity or chaos? Why would dysfunction fall into these two categories, or some combination of the two? And why did these patterns keep recurring?
There was something about these states that seemed the antithesis of the harmony of a more integrated flow. Could these emotional shifts in our lives reflect changes in our states of integration? Perhaps the term emotion itself might be defined as "a shift in our state of integration." If so, emotion researchers—whatever their approach —might be able to agree that impairments to emotional well-being are movements of the mind away from integration. And perhaps—looking even deeper—integration might be the principle underlying health at all levels of our experience, from the microcosm of our inner world to our interpersonal relationships and life in our communities.