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Record Type: Review   ID: 560

Metaphors of Interrelatedness: Toward a Systems Theory of Psychology

Olds, Linda E.

 The vision underlying this volume is that in our world today meaning must be sought and found not by transcendence (rising above) but "the path of wholeness must take us through and within, rather than leading us upward and outward alone" (or what Thomas Berry calls inscendence). Whereas in the Medieval world the external symbol of the gothic cathedral symbolized higher unity, in our day the need "is to allow and facilitate the construction of an equally sustaining inner worldview to reflect the experienced scientific, psychological, and spiritual insights and realities of the current age. ... We must turn to metaphor, the inner building blocks of the mental landscape, to evoke a living expression of the unity available in our time" (p. xii). Olds notes: "The special viewpoint of this book offers results from ways in which it utilizes metaphor and symbol to reveal a ‘systems’ perspective congenial to the three diverse fields of psychology, science, and religion" (p. xiii). She proposes that the metaphor that most successfully replaces the Gothic cathedral in our day is "Indra’s net, the cosmic web of interrelatedness extending infinitely in all directions of the universe, ... where each part reflects the whole, and where nothing exists apart from the whole" (p. xii). This key image determines the way the book is organized. The major aim is to explain systems theory and show how it can be applied to human personal experience not only as a guide but as a source of relevant metaphors, and as a means of "challenging conventional linear and positivistic epistemological assump-tions of experimental social science" (p. xv). The book is in three parts, each with a prologue that present "natural metaphors that reflect the time and content of each" (p. xv). The author is a psychologist, and its message is most centrally aimed at psychology, but it could apply equally well to that field which has chosen psychology as its model: parapsychology. The chapters in Part One, "Bare Bones," are Knowledge as Approximation, The Necessity of Metaphor, and Broadening the Research Paradigm. The second part, "Flesh and Tissue," consists of Metaphors of the Self, Models of Interrelatedness: The Emergence of Systems Theory, and Toward a Process Psychology: Systems Metaphors of Self and Change. Part Three, Indra’s Net, consists of Images of Wholeness: Toward a Unifying Systems Metaphor.
Publisher Information:Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992. 218p. Bibl: 167-205; Chap. notes: 137-166; Index: 207-217
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