Reflections on Energy, Information, and Fields from Psychoanalytic and Systems Theoretical Perspectives
Keywords:psychoanalytic theory, energy, information, field theory
The story of energy as a focus of psychoanalysis began with Freud, whose conceptualization was further developed by C.G. Jung. The human psyche, as Jung came to understand it, is enlivened by energy that draws people toward people, objects, ideas, and activities, forming and re-forming us through the ways it flows and the contents it carries.
Two levels of human system are addressed here. This article will examine how psychological energy forms the experience of individuals. In analytical psychology, psychological energy is observed to carry information about both conscious and unconscious states of a person’s psyche as it engages with itself and its environment. This article will also examine how psychological energy forms the experience of groups. It acts as a force that travels through space and time, creating specific, qualitatively linked human behaviors, tensions, constraints, frustrations, and potentials that Jung and others conceive of as psychological fields.
The concept of energy as a property of psychological systems makes useful contributions to our understanding of the human experience. Though rarely conscious, psychological energy nonetheless impacts the phenomenological experience of human individuals and groups, who cope with it in a variety of ways (some generative and some destructive). Psychological energy slows, stops, and speeds up, each having identifiable impact on the personal and collective psyche. Finally, an important thesis in psychoanalytic thought is that the means through which energy moves through and within human systems can change, thus psychic energy plays an important role in psychological transformation.