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Structure Determinism and Psychoanalytic Theory


Structure Determinism and Psychoanalytic Theory: A Wedding of Fractals

ELIZABETH D. BURRIS Independent Scholar

Humberto Maturana, with his groundbreaking work on the organization of living systems, provides a foundation on which discussions of how human beings and social systems function might rest. Paul Dell (1985) argues that Maturana's work is a relevant foundation for the field of family therapy; this paper assumes the same for the field of education. Dell (1985) calls Maturana's ontology "structure determinism." The idea is that living beings are fundamentally, inescapably biological and hence must function within the constraints and considerable affordances of their particular biological structures. These structures are special in at least two ways: they are manifestations of autopoietic unity, an organization that both produces and maintains all of the components that comprise it; and they are plastic, meaning they change continuously as they interact with themselves and other structures (living and non-living) in the environment. These interactions Maturana calls "structural coupling" (Maturana, 1975; Maturana & Guiloff, 1980; Maturana & Varela, 1980, 1987); it is through structural coupling that organisms adapt to their environments, responding to perturbations that "trigger" (Maturana & Varela, 1987, p. 96) responses but do not specify them. The key point of structure determinism is that, while external circumstances can influence the actions and experiences of a living system (such as a person)--that is, they can "select" the trajectory of change the perturbed system undergoes--external circumstances cannot specify, or determine, the nature of the change. Only the perturbed system, being a

Proceedings of the 2005 Complexity Science and Educational Research Conference Nov 20­22 · Loranger, Louisiana · pp. 129­142 ·


Proceedings of the 2005 Complexity Science and Educational Research Conference


closed system, can do that. Structure determinism, then, insists that it is the structure of each individual person that determines that person's actions and experiences but that interaction is the crucial means by which individual structures change, or learn. Maturana's oft-proclaimed goal is to proffer a scientific explanation for "all the phenomenology proper to living systems" (Maturana, 1975, p. 317; italics his), including cognition (Maturana & Varela, 1980, 1987), intelligence (Maturana & Guiloff, 1980), reality (Maturana, 1988), language (Maturana, 1978), and ethics (Maturana, 1988), by explaining how living systems generate these phenomena. His explanations, therefore, tend to be technically precise but general; it can be difficult to recognize oneself, one's daily experience, in them. The task of grounding Maturana's theory of living systems in concrete lived experience is eased, it turns out, by work that has been done in a quite different field, one that has embraced systems thinking but not that of Maturana in particular. In this paper, I take a small step towards integrating structure determinism with psychoanalytic theory--that is, I attempt to discern the fractal relationship between work done in the disparate fields of cell biology and psychology1--in hopes that I might make Maturana's ideas more accessible and applicable in settings that, in my opinion, are ripe for the paradigm shift those ideas demand. My approach, given the size of the proposed task, is to focus on structural coupling, "the fundamental phenomenon of structure determinism" (Dell, 1985, p. 12; italics his). I start by going into detail on Maturana's (1975, 1988) original conception of structural coupling as the primary activity of autopoietic systems. I then introduce corresponding ideas from various psychoanalytic theories, specifically object-relations theory and trauma theory. I conclude with a series of questions that this "wedding" of theories raises. My overall purpose in this paper is to extend the applicability of structure determinism by tying it to theories that explicitly probe human psychological experience, thereby, I hope, making the expanded theory relevant to the complex living system that is of greatest practical importance to me, the classroom.

Structural coupling

Maturana's (1975, 1988; Maturana & Varela, 1980, 1987) basic claim is that human beings are closed autopoietic systems, or systems that (1) create and sustain themselves and (2) accept energy from outside themselves but function autonomously, with no sense of "inside" or "outside." For autopoietic systems, Maturana (1975, 1988) posits, there exist three "phenomenological domains" (1975, p. 322), all of which are "non-intersecting" and "intrinsically not reducible to each other" (Maturana, 1988, p. 38). The first is the


Structure Determinism and Psychoanalytic Theory


domain of self-organization; the second is the domain of adaptation; and the third is the domain of spoken language and self-consciousness. I will describe each domain in turn. The first phenomenological domain is the level at which our internal biological sub-systems, such as the closed neuronal network that fuses the entire living system, function. This is the domain of autopoiesis, or selforganization, "the domain of realization of a system as a system" (Maturana, 1975, p. 322), and is so unconscious as to be forever inaccessible to us as experience (Varela, Thompson & Rosch, 1991). While the other phenomenological domains cannot be reduced to this most basic level, their existence depends on it, as they emerge from it. The second phenomenological domain is the domain of adaptation, where the sub-systems and the organism they comprise are structurally coupled to each other and to the environment--that is, they achieve a "fit" with each other. This is the level at which perturbations from both outside and inside the organism trigger structural changes (especially in the nervous system) that constitute adaptation, or learning. Because successful structural coupling implies interaction with an other, an object that is separate from the original system, it is at this level that the organism effects "distinction," which is crucial if the third phenomenological domain is to arise. Activity at this second phenomenological level is probably more unconscious than not--the coordinations and changes that take place when a child learns to read, for example, are primarily unconscious--but one can imagine a conscious element as well, such as when a child deliberately focuses her attention on a letter pattern on her way to recognizing it as representing a series of sounds. The third phenomenological domain is that of spoken language and selfconsciousness; this domain requires an observer who "arises as a system that can make descriptions, and always remain external to its circumstances by treating descriptions as objects of further descriptions" (Maturana, 1975, p. 323). In order to make these descriptions, the observer must become aware of his or her own "bodyhood" and, through language, make distinctions-- otherwise known as "objects" (Maturana, 1988, p. 47)--of the distinctions enacted at the second phenomenological level. Self-consciousness becomes possible when "the observer distinguishes his or her bodyhood as a node in a network of recursive distinctions" (Maturana, 1988, p. 47). Although cognition as "effective action" (Maturana & Varela, 1987, p. 173) exists at every phenomenological level, the third level is the domain of conscious cognition, where living systems can manipulate themselves and their environments, deliberately effecting structural coupling with people, objects, thoughts, and ideas. Importantly, Maturana (1988) allies cognition


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with "emotioning," the "continuous flow of emotions and moods...that changes the domains of actions in which the organisms move and operate" (p. 49). Organisms move among cognitive domains, or those domains specified by an observer in which cognitive, or intelligent (Maturana & Guiloff, 1980), action is apparent, not through rational processing but as a result of changes in "our dispositions for action as a matter of our emotioning" (Maturana, 1988, p. 62). Although his approach is theoretical rather than experimental, Maturana (1988; Maturana & Guiloff, 1980) ultimately confirms Damasio's (1994) claim that rationality and emotion work hand-inhand. Obviously, the third phenomenological level is in the realm of what Maturana (1978, 1988) calls "languaging," but languaging takes place at the second phenomenological level, too. In fact, Maturana (1975) subdivides languaging into two "linguistic domains." The first-order linguistic domain corresponds to the second phenomenological level, where communication happens through gesture and expression--"through recursive consensual co-ordinations of actions" (Maturana, 1988, p. 47)--rather than through words. The second-order linguistic domain is at the third phenomenological level where words reside, where an observer constructs conscious meaning by making distinctions and descriptions of what he or she perceives and experiences. Maturana (1975, 1978, 1988) is careful to point out that the meaning made at this second linguistic level can have significant impact on the observer's actions and experience but is, in fact, still just a story that has no direct relationship to what goes on at the other phenomenological levels: "Semantics," he writes (1975), "exist only in a metadomain of descriptions as a property projected upon the interacting systems by the observer, and valid only for him" (p. 330).

Psychoanalytic concepts and structure determinism

Work in psychoanalytic theory is rich and varied, and many concepts psychoanalysts apply in their practice map closely onto structure determinism. For this initial attempt at match-making, however, I have focused on just three concepts that I consider to be especially relevant: objects, the psyche, and transference.


The first object a human being distinguishes, claims Melanie Klein, founder of object-relations theory, is the breast, or, more specifically, the "good breast" and the "bad breast" (Klein, 1957a). The good breast is the infant's image of everything a loving and nurturing mother provides; the bad breast is the symbol of the infant's frustrated needs and wants. From the very beginning


Structure Determinism and Psychoanalytic Theory


of life, Klein (1957a, 1957b; Klein & Riviere, 1953) claims, the powerful emotions human beings feel influence their interactions with and understanding of the world through projection (the externalization of internal experience) and introjection (the internalization of aspects of the external world as it is perceived). As "[t]he baby's first object of love and hate" (Klein & Riviere, 1953, p. 58), the mother represents the total of the baby's experience, both good and bad. To the extent that the baby experiences the breast (or the bottle) as more or less ever-present, he introjects it: "The good breast is taken in and becomes part of the ego, and the infant who was first inside the mother now has the mother inside himself" (Klein, 1957a, p. 3). At the same time, and independent of the quality of the mother's caretaking, the baby is consumed with "persecutory anxiety" (Klein, 1957b, p. 311) "because even a happy feeding situation cannot altogether replace the pre-natal unity with the mother" (Klein, 1957a, p. 4). The love established through adequate nurturing and the hate engendered by the unavoidable separation of the mother from the baby live actively inside even the infant and fuel the projections and introjections that constitute the developing child's psychological experience of the world--the distinctions the child makes and the meanings she attributes to them. According to Klein (1957a, 1957b; Klein & Riviere, 1953) how the developing baby experiences and internally symbolizes the mother (the first object) determines the person's future mental health, for in healthy adults "there is a balance between giving out and taking in, between projection and introjection" (Klein, 1957b, p. 313). That is,

a securely established good object, implying a securely established love for it, gives the ego a feeling of riches and abundance which allows for an outpouring of libido and projection of good parts of the self into the external world without a sense of depletion arising. The ego can then also feel that it is able to re-introject the love it has given out, as well as take in goodness from other sources, and thus be enriched by the whole process. (Klein, 1957b, pp. 312­313)

Imbalance in this process leads to ongoing imbalances in intimate and friendly relationships, for, "[i]f ... the early conflict between love and hate has not been satisfactorily dealt with, or if guilt is too strong, this may lead to a turning away from loved people or even to a rejection of them" (Klein & Riviere, 1953, p. 83) or, at the other extreme, to overdependence on them. Klein's object-relations theory posits a psychological view of the process of distinguishing that characterizes Maturana's second phenomenological domain. While Klein calls the introjected breast an "object," it is, at first, more a feeling than a thing, since infants, of course, do not use formal language (Klein, 1957a). The preverbal, emotional and, importantly, enacted nature of infants' and babies' knowing--their projections and introjections,


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which are intimately related to felt needs and prelinguistic communicative activities--qualifies early psychological experience as falling into the firstorder linguistic domain. But babies' prelinguistic experience of the world forms the foundation for later language learning and use--for participation in the second-order linguistic domain--as Nancy Chodorow (1999) points out, beginning with a quote from Daniel Stern's (1985) book, The Interpersonal World of the Infant:

`It is a basic assumption of this book that some senses of the self do exist long prior to self-awareness and language.... Self-reflection and language come to work upon these preverbal existential senses of self and, in so doing, not only reveal their ongoing existence but transform them into new experiences.... Some preverbal senses of the self start to form at birth (if not before)' (1985, 6).... As any person develops, then, emotional resonance is established for some concepts, situations, experiences, and fantasies, and the capacity to endow experience with emotional meaning is also developed. Cognition is infused with emotion through the projections and introjections that create ego and reality psychologically, and meanings become specified or located for the individual in particular interpersonal and intrapsychic (object-relational) contexts. (Chodorow, 1999, pp. 58­59)

Once babies become language-users, the scope of their cognitive lives broadens considerably, but the fundamental psychological processes that shaped their original relationships to objects in the world--that is, the structural coupling they were able to enact--continue into adulthood. It is at the third phenomenological level that observers and objects arise. At this level,

existence is constituted with what the observer does, and the observer brings forth the objects that he or she distinguishes with his or her operations of distinction as distinctions of distinctions in language. Moreover, the objects that the observer brings forth in his or her operations of distinction arise endowed with the properties that realise the operational coherences of the domain of praxis of living in which they are constituted. (Maturana, 1988, p. 30)

The use of words and sentences, in other words, allows the developing child to make "distinctions of distinctions," to index with spoken language the objects that had been known heretofore only through feeling (love and hate, for example) and action (sucking, touching) and through projection and introjection--the very forces that endow the objects with the meaning that makes them distinguishable in the first place. Psychological processes collaborate with physical structure at this phenomenological level to "bring forth a world" (Maturana, 1988; Maturana & Varela, 1987). For Maturana, then, objects exist through "distinctions of distinctions," which are made through language and its background of emotioning. For


Structure Determinism and Psychoanalytic Theory


Klein and other object-relations theorists, objects exist through emotion, sensation, and the processes of projection and introjection, both of which "express unconscious fantasy, an affect-laden image or account, often nonlinguistic, nonverbal, and simply sensed, of what the nature of the object is, what the object's intentions are, how the self can or should react or is liable to be affected by the object, what the effect of the self-object interchange might be on both, and so forth" (Chodorow, 1999, p. 15). The accounts are similar enough to dovetail and, taken together, help to enrich our understanding both of moment-to-moment structural coupling and of the stream of psychological sense-making that is our daily experience.

The psyche

As infants grow into babies and children, the object relations they naturally engage in begin to cohere into a story, "a cognized subjectivity and selfhood" (Chodorow, 1999, p. 60), which depends upon the child's imagination, languaging, and ability to symbolize, or "metabolize" (Kalsched, 1996), affect and experience into an integrated identity. The developing psyche contains the salient emotional experiences--anxiety, affect, conflict, etc.--that constellate over time into a sense of, an ongoing experience of, self. This "self," in turn, plays a crucial role in perception and experience, as psychic survival becomes just as urgent to the human being as physical survival is. Donald Kalsched, a Jungian psychoanalyst who draws freely on objectrelations theory, proposes an explanation of the traumatized psyche, a model he calls the "self-care system." As Kalsched (1996) (and others) sees it, traumatized individuals effect a "split" in their psyches whereby "one part of the ego regresses to the infantile period, and another part progresses, i.e., grows up too fast and becomes precociously adapted to the outer world" (p. 3). The infantile part appears in dreams as a child or helpless animal, and the progressed part as a powerful "daimon" who either protects or persecutes the helpless one. The resultant archetypal self-care system, like our immune system (a comparison Kalsched explicitly makes, after Stein, 1967), buffers the self from the social world

by actively attacking what it takes to be `foreign' or `dangerous' elements. Vulnerable parts of the self's experience in reality are seen as just such `dangerous' elements and are attacked accordingly. These attacks serve to undermine the hope in real object-relations and to drive the patient more deeply into fantasy. And just as the immune system can be tricked into attacking the very life it is trying to protect (auto-immune disease), so the self-care system can turn into a `self-destruct system' which turns the inner world into a nightmare of persecution and self-attack. (Kalsched, 1996, p. 24)


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The self-care system, in other words, serves as a filter of internal experience. When hope arises (as when a traumatized person experiences trust or love), the psychic self-care system activates, spurring self-numbing behavior (e.g., drug and alcohol abuse), compulsive behavior (e.g., binge eating), withdrawal, depression, or horrible dreams, all of which serve to re-traumatize the person and trap her in a fantasy world that precludes psychological growth. It seems ironic that such a system would be dubbed "selfcaring," but Kalsched (1996) has a ready explanation:

Archetypal defenses ... allow for survival at the expense of individuation. They assure the survival of the person, but at the expense of personality development. Their `goal' as I have come to understand it, is to keep the personal spirit `safe' but disembodied, encapsulated, or otherwise driven out of the body/mind unity--foreclosed from entering time and space reality. Instead of slowly and painfully incarnating in a cohesive self, the volcanic opposing dynamisms of the inner world become organized around defensive purposes, constituting a `self-care system' for the individual. Instead of individuation and the integration of mental life, the archaic defense engineers dis-incarnation (disembodiment) and dis-integration in order to help a weakened anxiety-ridden ego to survive, albeit as a partially `false' self. (Kalsched, 1996, p. 38)

Clearly, the psyche as Kalsched (1996) envisions it functions in the second phenomenological domain. It influences the distinguishing, tacit interpreting, and adapting--the "consensual co-ordinat[ing] of actions"--human systems do in the first-order linguistic domain. It configures the traumatized person for a particular kind of structural coupling (which explains "the seemingly perverse fact that the victim of psychological trauma continually finds himself or herself in life situations where he or she is re-traumatized" [Kalsched, 1996, p. 5; italics his]) and reinforces interpretations of experience that make the defensive self-care system necessary. One might say that the psyche qualifies as a psychological structure that assembles itself over time via recurrent interactions and organizes experience as it unfolds. From the standpoint of the observer, and just as Kalsched (1996) suggests, the psyche appears to be a fractal of our biological structure, a historically reinforced, dynamic constellation of psychological experience--feelings, images, fantasies, stories--that determines and participates in our ongoing structural coupling. The psyche also exists at the third phenomenological level as what an observer can perceive to be a coherent system, the psychic system, which can be described and theorized, as Kalsched (1996) has. Of course, certain details of Kalsched's (1996) model do not square with Maturana's theory: Kalsched's (1996) multi-layered structures--the "archetypal psyche," the "ego," and the "false self"--his conspicuous anthropomorphism--his attri-


Structure Determinism and Psychoanalytic Theory


bution of purpose to the psychic system, his characterization of it as somehow intelligent, capable of "engineering" physical conditions--and his conception of space--the space of the spirit versus "time and space reality"-- make no sense from the perspective of structure determinism. This misalignment does not imply incompatibility, however. Kalsched's theory, while formulated according to a different paradigm, can still help us understand the psyche from the perspective of structure determinism. At one level, Kalsched's (1996) model works as an explanation of psychological experience. According to Maturana's own standards (as laid out in Maturana, 1975, and Maturana & Varela, 1987), the model does generate the phenomena it is meant to explain (even if it rests on an archetypal rather than a biological foundation, despite the comparison to the immune system). Better still, Kalsched's (1996) description resonates as an accurate depiction of human psychological experience. It is, in other words, a compelling story about how trauma can affect human beings. As such, it works at the only level at which stories can exist in structurally determined systems: at the third phenomenological level, the level of description. In fact, from Maturana's (1978, 1988) perspective, the stories people tell about the psyche--and the work psychotherapists do with their patients to deconstruct and reconstruct the psyche--exist only in description, in the third phenomenological domain (and the second-order linguistic domain) where consciousness of the self arises and where observers use language to explain what they see and experience as "selves"--and which, as Maturana (1975) insists, is "projected upon the interacting systems by the observer, and valid only for him" (p. 330). What people see and experience, according to Maturana (1988), is "the flow of consensual co-ordinations of actions of organisms whose actions co-ordinate because they have congruent dynamic structures that have arisen or are arising through their recurrent interactions in a co-ontogenic drift" (p. 48)--that is, what observers see is the external manifestations of structural coupling, which take place in a completely different phenomenological domain. But, once they have observed this "flow" and described it in language, observers have introduced to themselves and to others another stratum of object, that of language, ideas, and perceived experience, which has its own influence over ongoing interaction:

[I]nteractions in language are structural interactions that trigger in the interacting organisms structural changes contingent on the course of the consensual co-ordinations of actions in which they arise. As a result, even though the domain of languaging does not intersect with the structural domain of the bodyhoods of the interacting organisms, the structural changes of the organisms that interact in language are a function of what takes place in their languaging, and vice versa. (Maturana, 1988, p. 48)


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Psychoanalysis, then, by exposing and wrestling with the psychic system through languaging at the third phenomenological level can revise the structure--both biological and psychological--that determines behavior at the second phenomenological level. Each domain recursively influences the other, allowing for growth and, ideally, healing.


Transference is an umbrella term for introjection and projection, both (all) processes through which unconscious fantasy is both created and expressed (Chodorow, 1999). Calling it "perhaps, the root psychoanalytic discovery," Nancy Chodorow (1999, p. 26), a contemporary feminist and object-relations psychoanalyst, defines what she (and others) considers to be the fundamental force behind human meaning-making:

Transference is the hypothesis and demonstration that our inner world of psychic reality helps to create, shape, and give meaning to the intersubjective, social, and cultural worlds we inhabit. It is the original psychoanalytic vehicle documenting for us the power of feelings. Psychoanalytic investigation suggests that people are motivated or driven, in order to gain a sense of a meaningful life and manage threatening conscious and unconscious affects and beliefs, to create or interpret external experiences in ways that resonate with internal experiences, preoccupations, fantasies, and senses of self-other relationships. In transference, we personally endow, animate, and tint, emotionally and through fantasy, the cultural, linguistic, interpersonal, cognitive, and embodied world we experience. (p. 14)

Contrary to Freud's original conception, which was that, in transference, early experiences with the mother or the father are imposed on present situations and can be discerned through analysis-as-translation, more recent uses of transference emphasize it as an ongoing process of meaning-making that constructs each moment anew, drawing on distant and recent experiences but also drawing on instantaneous interpretations of the current moment. "In this view, " Chodorow (1999) tells us, "the patient continually creates psychologically her experience of the intersubjective external world, her internal world and self, and the way these relate one to the other" (p. 17). Transference, then, far from being an obstacle to analysis (as Freud saw it), is a valuable tool in detecting a patient's psychic structure and working through its effects as they emerge. But transference does not happen in isolation; just as infants engage in object relations "within an interpersonal ... matrix" (Chodorow, 1999, p. 17), patients and analysts co-construct the narrative of their mutual understandings through transference and countertransference, or the feelings the analyst has in response to the patient's transference. Psychological reality,


Structure Determinism and Psychoanalytic Theory


then, is a co-construction that depends on emotioning and on the psyche as both a selective and an interpretive mechanism whose existence depends on the actual presence of an other or on the intrapsychically perceived presence of an other (such as Klein's "good breast" or Kalsched's archetypal psychic characters) (Chodorow, 1999). Our psychic activity, in other words, is "intersubjective" (Chodorow, 1999)--a claim that Maturana would undoubtedly endorse. Although the terms "transference" and "countertransference" are most readily associated with psychoanalysis, many theorists claim that these forces are omnipresent in everyday life. As Hans Loewald, an ego psychologist and an object-relations theorist, puts it,

There is neither such a thing as reality nor a real relationship, without transference. Any "real relationship" involves transfer of unconscious images to present-day objects. In fact, present-day objects are objects, and thus real, in the full sense of the word ... only to the extent to which this transference, in the sense of transformational interplay between unconscious and preconscious, is realized (1960, 252, 254). (quoted in Chodorow, 1999, p. 245)

And Chodorow (1999): "Unconscious fantasies expressed in transference processes of projective and introjective identification are the way we give meaning to our lives and experiences in general. The capacity for transference (in this sense subsuming countertransference) is thus one of the great abilities and defining capacities of the human mind" (p. 21). Transference, then, is not just ubiquitous; it is essential to all meaningful human interaction. From the perspective of structure determinism, transference refers to the psychological processes that allow people from infancy onward to make the distinctions (Maturana's second phenomenological domain) that crystallize into objects (the third phenomenological domain). These objects and the reality they seem to comprise are meaningful thanks to transference, the emotion-saturated organizational process of sense-making. Transference, in other words, takes place within emotioning; in fact, the concept helps to clarify, perhaps, what Maturana means when he writes about shifts between rational domains as a result of changes in "our dispositions for action as a matter of our emotioning" (Maturana, 1988, p. 62). Transference certainly fuels our "dispositions for action." In fact, it permeates our actions, lends meaning to our actions, refers us back, if we choose to reflect or analyze, to the psychological structure--the psyche--that, like our biological structure, helps to determine our actions. This point deserves underlining. Transference/countertransference, as it is described by Chodorow (1999) and others, seems to be the psychological correlate to what Capra (1996) calls "process," the third criterion of life that combines with "pattern" (autopoiesis) and structure to characterize


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living systems. Transference, I suggest, is the psychological activity, or "mental activity" (Capra, 1996), that Maturana (1988; Maturana & Varela, 1987; Maturana & Guiloff, 1980) and others (Varela, Thompson & Rosch, 1991; Capra, 1996) call cognition, "this bringing forth of a world" (Maturana & Varela, 1987, p. 28) that depends on the fusion of perception and action (Varela et al., 1999) and, ultimately, constitutes the human version of "mind" (Capra, 1996). Put another way, transference seems to be the muscle that enacts the psychological structure I am here calling the psyche, enlivening, "animating" (Chodorow, 1999) human experience and the reality people are constantly co-creating. Transference as a psychoanalytic construct also animates the theory of structure determinism, making both the theory and our embodied experience of life more accessible and comprehensible.


The theory of object relations as well as Kalsched's (1996) version of trauma theory dovetail with Maturana's ideas. The wedding of these two fractal realms results in an expanded version of structure determinism, one that keeps the biological nature of human beings in sight but embraces the psychological forces that permeate experience. The psychoanalytic concepts discussed in this paper--introjection and projection, which constitute transference or psychological cognition, and the psyche, or psychological structure--comprise the beginning of a framework that can be fruitful in analyzing classrooms, especially teachers' experience of classrooms. Questions remain, however, as to the exact fit of psychoanalytic theory with structure determinism. Most fundamentally, we must ask about the relationship between biology and the psyche. Are they separate systems? Is the psychic system emergent from the biological one? That is, does psychological experience naturally accompany the functioning of our biological sub-systems? If the psychic system is separate, is it, like biological systems and, possibly, social systems (Luhmann, 1995), autopoietic? These questions quickly lead us to questions about Freud's "second topography" (the unconscious/conscious structure) and the current "hard problem" of consciousness (Chalmers, 1995): What and where is the unconscious? What and where is consciousness? Do the unconscious and consciousness qualify as "systems"--that is, can they be understood in structure deterministic terms? How do they interact? Again, put in terms of the "hard problem," what is the relationship between consciousness (experience) and biology? While this paper points to the importance of exploring these questions, there is one inquiry for which this paper hopes to serve as a prerequisite: What is the relationship between the expanded version of structure determinism and the intellect? That is, what difference does this expanded theory


Structure Determinism and Psychoanalytic Theory


make in the classroom, where intellects are supposed to be developed? Again, these questions deserve full attention in their own right, but, because they served as the original impetus for this paper, I attempt a brief response here: If, as Maturana (Maturana & Guiloff, 1980; Maturana & Varela, 1987) proposes, evidence of intelligence is "the behaviour of an organism which entails the establishment of, the expansion of, or the operation within a domain of ontogenic structural coupling already established" (Maturana & Guiloff, 1980, p. 141), and if structural coupling includes a psychic component, then the cultivation of students' intellects necessarily involves psychological structures (psyches) and cognition (transference/countertransference). It is my contention that teachers can well afford to attend to and work with these psychological elements, both inside themselves and as they appear to function in their students (Burris, 2004). Educational researchers who wish to understand the learning, or structural change, taking place in a classroom can use the expanded version to analyze the teacher's and students' experience of classroom activity. Ultimately, this project of wedding structure determinism with psychoanalytic theory is meant to encourage a shift in the way people see and act in classrooms so they--parents, teachers, administrators, government officials--can support education that is structured to fit better with the complex realities of teaching and learning.


1. I thank Robb MacKay for suggesting this type of relationship and inviting me to explore it.


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