These systems are part of the regulatory mechanisms of the organism Because there is no such thing as a superâ regulator of the organism (a regulator of regulators of the organism21), a moment arrives when an organism is regulated by the manner in which it interacts with its surroundings. That which an organism needs to receive from the exterior to regulate itself is also heteroclite (light, nourishment, affection, recognition, weather, etc.). The coherence of a system is therefore maintained by four groups of forces:
1. The regulation of that which is within.
2. The regulation of that which contains it (e.g., society).
3. The regulations maintained by an organism with its environment.
4. The regulations maintained by the environment with an organism
The organismic processes that generate various forms of awareness are inaccessible to selfexploration by introspection. Introspection is a central tool in psychotherapy because it consists in observing as explicitly as possible, and in a detailed manner, inner impressions: how we think, our body sensations, the feelings that animate us, the thinking that creates our beliefs, interior conflicts, the way we love and/or hate ourselves, and so on. The mechanisms of the organism that are inaccessible to consciousness are nonconscious.22 It is impossible for a human to grasp the functioning of the organism’s physiological mechanisms in which thoughts arise by introspection, or the system of social interactions in which an organism constitutes itself. Introspection cannot even allow a person to explore the structure of the psyche. Conscious thoughts can perceive certain effects of these dynamics, and are almost blind to the ways its perceptions are organized. A person consciously and explicitly perceives a mental phenomenon, but not that which structures it.
Where Do We Situate the Psychological?
Psychology is defined as the the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given contextâ (New English Oxford Dictionary, 1998, p. 1497). Europeans often use the term psyche to designate the object of psychology and stress the notion that representations are only part of the mind. This terminology is coherent, as it is the root of the term psychology. In English, the term psyche (or psychic) is avoided because it is often associated with magical powers. Mind is not an adequate term to designate what psychotherapists work with because it reduces the psyche to its computational modalities. The dictionary recommends the use of psychology as a noun to designate the object of psychology, as when one speaks of the psychology of a person. I sometimes follow this recommendation, but because this my yoga blog is strongly influenced by European literature, I also use the term psyche as it is used by European psychologists and psychiatrists,23 which is as a way of designating all the mechanisms studied by psychologists. To summarize, psychic is too close to magical disciplines, and mind too close to artificial intelligence. These remarks do not intend to disqualify these disciplines but to defend a choice of words that is appropriate in psychotherapy.
With the current systems model, the difficulty for psychologists is that however easy it is to situate physiological systems in an organism, it is not so easy with regard to the mind or behaviors. Thoughts are inevitably part of the mechanisms of the organism’s regulation, but their relationship with the organization of the organs is vague. The only thing that can be affirmed is that psychological and behavioral dynamics are situated somewhere at the intersection between (a) the mechanisms of regulation of an organism, and (b) the mechanisms that regulate the interaction between several organisms. The organismic models in psychology are mostly interested in how the psyche participates in the dynamics of organisms.24