The Spirit Is Willing: Nonlinearity, Bifurcations, and Mental Control

K Warren
College of Social Work, The Ohio State University

J. C. Sprott
Department of Physics, University of Wisconsin - Madison

R. C. Hawkins
Department of Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin


In recent years there has been considerable interest in the construction of nonlinear models of the dynamics of human behavior. In this exploratory article we argue that attempts at controlling problematic thoughts, emotions, or behaviors can lead to nonlinearity in mental/behavioral dynamics. We illustrate our model by fitting threshold autoregression models to self-recorded time series of the daily highs in intensity of anxiety and obsessive ruminations, kept by an individual in therapy for this problem. In our discussion, we raise the possibility that bifurcations that occur in this nonlinear model may offer insight into mental control paradoxes.

Ref: K. Warren, J. C. Sprott, and R. C. Hawkins, Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences 6, 55-70 (2002).

The complete paper is available in PDF format.

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