In researching methods for the development of empathic concern, we find that the syncretic nature of visceral, affective, somatic, and cognitive interactions creates a complex system of emergent emotional phenomena. Accounting for these intricacies within a research design becomes problematic without first determining the proper vocabulary to accurately represent the nature of this system. Drawing from the realm of mathematics provides one source for descriptors. Daniel Siegel, in his book The Mindful Brain, using complexity theory specifically, explains the logic of our human systems by writing that “an integrated state enables the most flexible, adaptive, and stable states to be created within a dynamical, complex system.”
Only when this mode of thinking is combined with the constantly growing lexicon provided by evolutionary biology and advancements in brain research can we begin to express the interconnected nature of neurological development.
The development of empathic concern itself involves several facets of interaction that build upon each other, an evolution both psychical and physical. In addition to initial instances of secure attachment, later stages of life include the development of a self-regulating equilibrium.
Siegel later describes a triad of mental well-being as including “coherence of mind, empathy of relationships, and neural integration.”
To be continued....