Process Healing
Using the Subconscious to Heal

Theory of Process Healing

Theory for Process Healing

The basis for this metaphor or theory was originally presented in a paper by Garry Flint at the 1994 International Conference for the Study of Chaos in Biology and Psychology at Baltimore, Maryland. Since then, the elementary notions of chaos theory have been discarded because it confused lay persons and professionals when I mentioned the word - chaos. However, I have Outlined this theory as a chaos process in an explanation of the active ingredients of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (Flint, 1994, 2000) (To download a reprint, Click Here!) Now, I never go into detail, the theory is treated as an extension of B. F. Skinner's model of behavior. Never the less, both Skinner's model and this model are obvious candidates for chaos modeling. One could look at the development of Process Healing as a traditional Skinnerian approach where the behavior is observed and then the contingent relationships are discovered to be able to manage the maladaptive aspects.

This theory hasn't been tied into psychological research. I feel confident that it's possible, but I haven't had the time to organize myself to do the library research. So the theory section is sparse. I have naive confidence that what I am seeing in the people with whom I work is accurate data, and that, if research has addressed human behavior accurately, the truth is out there. Ultimately, my observations and interventions will either rest on a sturdy bed of science or not. Please feel free to lead me to any supportive evidence for these ideas.

I prefer to teach this model of the brain, personality, and change based upon clinical experience, rather than interpret what I see within some psychological theory or force it into some mathematical model. Walter Freeman's (Freeman, 1991) chaos modeling jump started my understanding of how the brain worked. The complexity of the brain continues to unfold based upon some basic chaos principles that Freeman stated. I think it fits well with Ben Goertzel's model (Goertzel, 1994). At present, the theory section restates the above description, but gives me an outline from which tie concepts or observations to psychological research.

There are three basic assumptions that underlay the model or metaphor: small stimuli create large changes, experience changes memory, and the brain is a constant learning organ. Small stimuli creates large changes is a truism that is accepted by all. Walter Freeman(1991) showed that experience changes memory in a study of olfaction. In this study, he recorded from the olfactory bulb and showed that the previously conditioned electrical representation of one smell was changed when the organism learned another smell. In addition, research on vicarious learning, habituation, and extinction all support the notion that experience changes memory.

That we are constant learning organisms follows from the previous assumption, namely, experience changes memory. That's because experience involves sensory stimulation. It's clear that sensory stimulation is a condition of learning both vicariously, without reinforcement or punishment, or when reinforcement and punishment is added to sensory stimulation. Both reinforcement and punishment qualifies sensory stimulation and, also, interacts with the physiology of the organism. This makes it a little more confusing. It further follows that it is necessary that sensory stimulation triggers a memory process to obtain what we call learning. Having minimized the complexity of these concepts, we can continue.

Shortly after conception, the fetus' brain starts remembering some neural representation of auditory input, namely, words, phrases and sentences. This forms a lexicon of language and shortly after birth, objects and actions are connected to the words to form a functioning verbal system, the subconscious. At birth, sensory experience and activity of the baby start the development of the personality. The main personality is actually based upon a state dependent memory that includes all learning that has any connection to sensory experience. All traumatic experience is remembered in the personality of the person.

The personality is manifested in what I call the active experience. The active experience is a cooperative neural mass (Skarda and Freeman, 1990) that takes all internal and external sensory experience, all behavior processes operating, and all emotion and content memory that are elicited by the content in the active experience to compose the next response in all ongoing behavior processes. It is a recurrent system. It is believed that all brain functions, organ functions, and covert and overt behavior are run by unique cooperative neural masses and that each has a verbal system developed in the way similar to that of the subconscious. Recent observations seem to point me in this direction, unless the subconscious' are putting me on.

After birth, to make the active experience more relevant to getting more satisfaction and less pain, an association process is gradually learned that filters what is elicited from dormant memory. At the same time and usually in connection with the association process, a dissociation process is gradually formed to further modulate the sensory experience of the conscious experience. It's function is to hide irrelevant active stimuli so that the responses are more tightly under appropriate stimulus control of the environment. Both of these processes reduce distraction and are involved in focus and concentration. The main personality overlaps the dissociation process so that there is both an active conscious and active unconscious experience in the main personality. If memory is not active, it is dormant or asleep. The Association and/or dissociation process can come under voluntary or involuntary control to form repression or dissociative memories or parts of the personality.

When a unique experience like abuse, an accident, or a medical trauma, occurs and exceeds a certain level of intensity, the whole brain mobilizes to survive. In doing this, it rapidly pushes the main personality out of the active experience where it remains dormant in memory during the course of the trauma. It is believed that the main personality, a unique cooperative neural mass, is pushed out and returns so fast, there are few neural connections between the main personality and the trauma experience. This causes an amnesia for the trauma.

The trauma experience forms another unique cooperative neural mass during the evolving trauma. When the trauma subsides, the main personality rushes back into the active experience pushing the trauma part out of the active experience to a state of dormancy, again forming an amnesia at the end of the trauma. The trauma part then, is amnesic to the main personality. Note that these trauma parts can be highly developed and run the body to create fugue states while others give visual, auditory or emotional intrusions, etc. They can be coconscious with or without amnesia. With this model, it is easy to conceptualize how all this can happen.


Flint, G. A. (1994). A chaos Model of the Brain Applied to EMDR, Psychoscience. Vol. 1, pp. 119-130.

Flint, G. A. (2000). A Chaos Model of the Brain Applied to EMDR. In Cooms, A., Germine, M,. & Goertzel, B. (Eds.), Mind in Time: The Dynamics of Thought, Reality, and Consciousness. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Flint, G. A. (2001). A Behavioral Account of the Active Ingredients of Change. In Gallo, F (Ed.), Energy Psychology in Psychotherapy. New York: Norton.

Goertzel, B. (1994). Chaotic Logic: Language, Thought, and Reality from the Perspective of Complex Systems Science. New York: Plenum Press.

Skarda, C. A. & Freeman, W. J. (1990). Chaos and the New Science of the Brain. Concepts in Neuroscience, Vol. 1, pp. 275-285.

Freeman, W. J. (1991). Physiology of Perception. Scientific American. Vol. 264, pp. 78-85

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(Rev. 11-30-01)Copyright 1997-2002 Garry A. Flint, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.