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The Mattering Map: Confluence and Influence

By June 13, 2019 June 15th, 2019 No Comments

Abstract

This article describes and elaborates upon the theoretical model of the Mattering Map, initially introduced in Engendered Lives: A New Psychology of Women’s Experience (Kaschak, 1992). This model organizes the principles of contextual feminist therapy in a manner that honors the complexity, multiplicity and morphing of the energetic field of mattering. The mattering map is more intimately related to 21st century physics, neuroscience and constructionist thought than to 19th and 20th centuries reductionist and fragmenting epistemological models.

Keywords: contextual; constructivist ; feminist therapy; mattering map; social construction; epistemology

Theory and Epistemology

Contextual theory has made significant contributions to the practice of psychotherapy since its inception in the early 1970’s (Kaschak,1976; Kaschak, 1992). Early in development, the focus was largely on the contextual variables of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation and their role in the psychology of girls and women. Over the ensuing decades, this perspective has increasingly provided a complex, multi-dimensional and dynamic approach to the understanding of human psychological functioning that is not fragmented or reductionist, but instead related to social construction, quantum theory, neuroscience and other contemporary theories and practices.

While a close and narrow focus is often crucial for the advancement of human knowledge, so there comes a time for integration of seemingly disparate ideas. The arbitrary boundaries that define the disciplines often create the illusion of separation rather than what they are, a temporary and convenient distinction that accommodates human eyes and the human mind. That is, there are no disciplines except as we observers define them and those definitions can outlive their usefulness if they do not change with the times and the development of knowledge. I would assert that one goal of knowledge is to dissolve illusory boundaries.

All too often, these metaphorical markers are taken to be materially real and, in that moment, they occlude the complexly intertwined nature of all human and non-human experience. That is, the existence of boundaries and disciplines are an invention of the human senses and the human neurological system. It is perhaps a necessary convenience for Western epistemologies to make incremental sense of the material world, but it is only that. No theorist or practitioner should marry a metaphor.

Each of us appears to reside materially inside our own skin; not only is that skin porous, but our influence on others and the surroundings far exceeds the seeming boundary known as skin. Nowhere is this influence more apparent than in the field named psychology. Psychotherapy, in particular, can engender profound change in an individual using the tools of verbal and body language. While there is extensive research being conducted on neuroscience, or what is going on in each individual’s brain and nervous system, we are only in the early stages of connecting these neurological events to the complexity of experience. While the discovery of mirror neurons (Rizzolati, Sinigaglia, and Anderson, 2008), for example, advances this area, there is little being said about the so-called empty space between speakers.

It is primarily vision that not only separates, but creates the illusion of empty space. No space is empty; it is filled in a way that our human senses do not perceive. Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than my own recent work with blind people and the epistemology of vision (Kaschak, in press). Without sight, they do not perceive separation except through the presence or absence of sound. Touch can signify presence to the human senses, but not emptiness. The Western mind cannot easily understand that the space between them is far from empty. Think of a jazz composition without the space between the notes or the difficulty of decoding early writing, which did not contain spaces between words. Even in the visual arts, the use of space is a significant aspect of any work.

The Western mind has had to divide to conquer. If conquest is no longer the goal, as feminism and other peaceful alternatives propose, then division need not be the method. Much like geographical boundaries then, epistemological ones can be seen as arbitrarily imposed by the human mind for the sake of certain goals and biases. Where are the Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia that I once visited and where are all the people who have touched my life glancingly or deeply? Do they touch it still? I am haunted by the question.

Adopting this epistemological perspective, the distinction between inner and outer experience also becomes illusory or constructed by human perceptual apparatus. I do not mean this statement to equate imagination with construction; neither can I separate these two activities of the mind. Schrödinger, more than fifty years ago(1958), asserted, “Subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have been broken down as a result of recent experience in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist.” Yet this long accepted principle of contemporary physics and Eastern thought has yet to be fully taken up by Western psychology.

Western science is overdue for a reunion with its long separated sibling, Eastern philosophy and practice. In my opinion, Buddhism is perhaps the most impressive system of psychology to have been introduced in all human history. It is a fully developed philosophy of the mind and has been for me a significant source of constructivist thought and practice. Feminist and constructivist thinkers have been using mindfulness for decades prior to the cognitive-behavioral practitioners who have successfully introduced it to large numbers of Western psychotherapists (psychologists (Borysenko, 1987; Kabat-Zinn, 2006).

However, the practice of mindfulness should not and need not be reduced to a therapeutic technique or be equated with a brief or even lengthy period of sitting on a pillow. I myself have sat on various pillows in various ashrams since 1974, but I am more interested in considering the time off the pillow, the rest of the time. Mindfulness can be learned, but not accomplished, in an ashram or in therapy sessions because it is a practice that must become a habit of mind, body and soul. For this combination of mind/body/spirit, the English language has no satisfying word.

Neuroscience

Neuroscience and experience combine to inform us that the human brain is, among other things, a pattern detector. This is at the center of human experience, whether creativity, madness or the quotidian. The nervous system cannot do otherwise than to organize and perceive patterns. It is impossible to resist individually or collectively. We must all inevitably yield, as Gestalt psychology has amply demonstrated (Mamassian, Landy et al., 2002). Once discovered/invented, these patterns become emergent and are almost impossible to “unperceive.” This tendency extends from the simple optical illusions of Gestalt experiments to the most complex cultural constructs such as gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation, such as identity itself. However, it is crucial to note that even the simplest illusions are not a function of neurology uneducated. The Mueller Lyons illusion, for example, is in every psychology textbook in North America and taken as a universal perception, but is not perceived the same way in many African cultures where, it has long been known, the illusion has no effect (Bonte,1962). The task of consciousness work in political groups and in psychotherapy becomes, in a sense, the “unseeing” of accepted patterns of “reality,” the dissolution of constructed boundaries.

We do not see what we have not learned to see. Here is an example that I often use in supervision and training. I divide my time between California and Costa Rica, the two San Josés that have come to define so much of my life. When I first visited the jungles of Costa Rica decades ago, my friends excitedly pointed out to me the monkeys in the trees. They were all around us, everywhere, hundreds of them, but I could not see a single one. A native of New York City, I could spot a mugger or a taxi blocks away, but a monkey in the trees, never. My eyes were not trained to this sight. It took practice, learning first to distinguish the patterns of greenery from each other, until I began to see little faces embedded in them everywhere. And once I saw them, I could never go back, could not “unsee” them. It is a sight that my brain, and not just my eyes, now recognizes. In a similar way, the eyes of the psychologist or the biologist, the astronomer or the archeologist are trained to see what each discipline defines as its monkeys. Even more importantly, each of us constructs a life, a worldview out of what is possible for us to see and names it reality when it is instead only possibility.

This sort of myopia can also be significantly affected by the corrective lenses of diversity and complexity, which depend upon keeping as much as possible in view rather than as little. It requires multiple and shifting perspectives and continuing to ask the question of a child’s puzzle, “What is missing from this picture?” “From whose perspective is this picture drawn?” “Whose eyes are the official eyes that define the questions and so the answers?” Those of us who do not have a pair of officially sanctioned eyes find this exercise a bit less daunting than those who more easily adhere to “official reality.” Yet to maintain the scanning and questioning stance is not easy for the individual human mind, which is designed to seek out/discover/invent patterns and settle comfortably in to them. The same is so for the therapist’s mind.

Quantum theory

Quantum theory posits a probabilistic rather than a deterministic universe. The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics (Cramer, 1986) claims that in the atomic and subatomic world, there exist only potential and possibilities rather than things or facts. Human psychology is also a combination of potential and possibility that form themselves into patterns perceived by the human mind just as material reality depends upon the human sensorium.

Training as a psychologist or psychotherapist certainly depends heavily on training the eyes and other senses to recognize certain repeated patterns and to see them rather than other possibilities wherever we can. I would assert also that the DSM is a compendium of such mutually acknowledged dynamic and behavioral patterns and resembles its hero big brother, medical diagnosis, only in form. That is, there is a family resemblance; they look alike. The professions that use this manual might do better to recognize the complex intertwined nature of human psychology, but also that it exists only as potential and probability until it is observed (Cahill. Castelli & Casper, 2001). It is the act of observation itself and the eyes of the particular observer that freeze probability into pattern and pattern into pathology. Once there is a pattern or the solid stuff of the human senses, then there appear to be boundaries that define this solidity. Human senses do not perceive the flow of energy and information across these so-called boundaries nor does the human mind. These limitations produce a diagnostic system that is deeply embedded in the neurology and biases of the officially designated observer, in this case the psychiatric profession. These diagnoses are then turned from mattering into matter, from into frozen patterns considered to be material reality, which they then become. The Western mind desires separation and isolation of fluid patterns of the material and so has invented it and named it empiricism.

Genetics

I want to add one more point here also derived from the work of Western science, in this case genetic research. As this research progresses, the influence of genes and their complex interaction with the environment is only beginning to be understood. However, it is well understood that you can’t have one without the other and that environment can modify genetic influences in every, or almost every case, including those that are named pathology.

To add to this complexity, twenty-first century genetics and a new area of inquiry named epigenetics (Lipton, 2005) are beginning to reconsider the earlier rejection of Lamarckian theory, the proposition that acquired traits can be passed on genetically or inherited (Kimura,1983). Startlingly to many scientists, the emerging field of epigenetics has been able to demonstrate changes in actual genetic coding as a result of experience (Reik, Dean & Walter, 2001; Sutherland & Costa, 2006). This is genetic coding that can still be seen three generations later and must inform our ideas about the influence of genetics not in contrast to, but combined with, the effects of personal/contextual experiences. This idea could revolutionize psychological perspectives on trauma and the inheritance of trauma. If we are to move beyond dualistic thinking, we must learn to mistrust any question that has an “or” in its midst. That is, for example, is nature or nurture, biology or learning crucial? The answer is “Yes.”

Yet another theory long out of favor and named for the two theorists who developed it early in the last century. The James Lang theory (Fournier, 2009) proposes that the human mind perceives physiological and motor reactions to external stimuli and only then names and organizes them. For example, I know I am frightened because I perceive that I am shaking or running away. If this is so, it profoundly modifies psychology’s ideas about causality and the nature of experience.

THE MATTERING MAP—THEORY AND EPISTEMOLOGY

The Mattering Map2 is a construct and a tool that is consistent with and derived from contextual theory (Kaschak, 1992; 1996). I prefer the term “mattering” to meaning for its ability to encompass and enfold, to embrace meaning and caring, mind and heart, feelings and ideas, for they are not separate nor are they related in a linear “cause and effect” sequence. Instead they are inextricably intertwined, each implicate in the others and deeply enfolded in the matrix of human experience.

The Mattering Map is many things at the same time, too many, in fact, for the human mind to grasp all at once and so requiring revisiting and multiplicity of perspectives. It is, in one sense, a model of meaning making, of what matters in psychological life. Humans are nothing if not social creatures, and all social relationships are also organized by mattering. Our human minds cannot do otherwise than search for mattering; our human hearts cannot do other than have others matter to us and we to others. We are built this way as exquisitely social animals. Mattering subsumes and contains what are named the cognitive and the affective, the psychological and the sociological, the individual and the cultural. Additionally mattering is inextricably intertwined with matter, each of which shapes the other through the processes alternately named genetics, biology, neurology, psychology, culture or human experience. It is, at the same time, a meta-concept and the glue of all human experience. Mattering is what unites diverse aspects of the context into patterns that repeat themselves sufficiently to be designated in our human minds as significant and it is what connects us to each other so irrevocably. As much as matter is a sine qua non of our material existence, so is mattering of our psychological, spiritual and cultural aspects. I cannot find the words in the English language to express them as one, each being implicate in all the others, so I must string them together on a necklace of “ands.”

And there is more to be said about the inextricable relationship between matter and mattering. There is an ongoing conversation between human genes and the environmental context, in which the environment appears to have the louder voice (Lipton, 2002). This continues throughout life as the human brain is characterized by as yet unknown degrees of plasticity, that is, changes form as a result of experience (Edelman, 1978). As it acts upon the environment, so the environment acts upon it. More accurately, they act in concert. There are no soloists.

The metaphor of a brain map is one frequently invoked by contemporary neurologists (Edelman,1978; Edelman and Tononi, 2000) and I intend to maintain this compatibility, while acknowledging its metaphorical nature, particularly because of the importance of always keeping in mind the accompanying neurological participation involved in virtually every human activity.

Human thought, feeling and responses used to be conceptualized as occurring in specific, isolated areas of the brain. As neurology has been increasingly able to look at that brain while it is responding, it has become apparent that the brain itself is connected in complex and interacting networks and does not function autonomously in isolated locations. It may well be said that there are no isolated and unchanging locations within the brain or on the Mattering Map.

In the human brain, enormously complex circuitry connects disparate locations and thus permits complex biochemical, energetic, psychological, socio-cultural experiences including, but not limited to, memory, suffering, pleasure, love, desire and despair. Complex neural circuits fire in harmony to participate in these experiences and the more they are associated with each other, the more they become associated and begin to fire together, as originally noted by behaviorists many decades ago (Hebb,1949). The architecture of the brain is continuously modified by each of these events and is characterized by varying degrees of plasticity throughout any lifetime. Change is not only always possible, but inevitable. The enormous number of actual and possible interactions defies comprehension by that very same human brain. Can the human brain ever comprehend its own complexity? Certainly the human senses cannot perceive it.

Finally, mattering can be conceptualized as a force field, an interpersonal gravity. There are multiple energetic forces impinging upon any individual and any social interaction. Much as various areas of the brain may be linked in a particular complexity, so does mattering always have multiple sources and manifestations. Mattering exists as a potential, a state of probability, until it is manifest. That is, we neither invent nor discover “reality,” but instead co-create it.

As an example, there is increasing evidence that prolonged stress can contribute to the development of serious illness such as cancer. Recent research has been focused on the biological mechanisms that appear to translate stress into illness. Bio-chemically and psychologically mediated, mattering irrevocably alters matter.

As another example, close relationships have been shown to be positively related to health. I would add that it is the ways in which such relationships matter and not just relationships themselves that result in happier and healthier individuals. Interviewers often fail to ask the question of mattering. This is as subtle but important point. For some the relationship can be with a friend or relative, for others with a dog or cat. For others, eating a dog or cat for dinner, with or without human companionship, can be more satisfying. In certain markets in Vietnam, dogs for sale as pets or as food are simply put in different color cages, a code that the shoppers understand. It is the Mattering Maps of the individual and culture overlapping that offers meaning to these relationships. The mediating variable is the mattering and that mattering is far from universally inherent in the various kinds of relationships possible.

The idea of intersectionality acknowledges and, thus, recognizes the combination of more than one contextual influence, but often fails to go any further, to acknowledge the multiplicity and complexity of the individual/context, much less how frequently these influences morph and change just when someone is trying to pin them down. This metaphorical “pinning down” has much in common with a more literal one. Both certainly stop any motion.

Invoking the human senses, one might picture each of us and all of us as enveloped in a force field, a cloud of energetic probability and potential. This field does not stop at the skin or at the nerve endings. It is unbounded. Should it encounter a different energetic system, which it inevitably must, they can clash, compromise or even fall into synchrony. This process of entrainment has been noted in many natural cycles, including that of menstrual cycles beginning to coordinate when groups of women are living together. This synchrony is also at the heart of a good therapeutic relationship. One can feel the rhythms coincide. When I train beginning therapists, I often ask them to sit by my side in a practice session and do nothing more than feel the rhythm. This process is more like learning to play in an orchestra than it is like studying a book, although even reading demands a certain rhythm to be satisfying to the reader.

The Mattering Map is not a map like the ones hanging on the walls of geography classrooms around the world. These flat, two-dimensional representations fall short in several aspects. The mattering map is a living, breathing multi-dimensional, morphing entity. It cannot hold still. It is alive with forces and vectors that change its shape and its valence slowly or rapidly, but constantly. The mattering map, like a multi-dimensional kaleidoscope, comes to rest only when observed and what is observed is not what was there a moment before the observation altered probability into pattern.

For the sake of clarity, use your human neurological system here to imagine a map that can fully represent terrain, climate, airflow and other energetic forces impinging on the territory. On this map, volcanoes erupt; rivers change their course; storm clouds gather and dissipate; boundaries shift. Oceans ebb and flow; sun sometimes shines. I do not intend a Rogerian analogy between human growth and the weather and goodness of soil. Instead I mean to invoke a complex combination of energetic forces encountering each other in probable and improbable ways.

Self in Context; Context in Self

The map morphs with every interaction, every thought and feeling. What was a moment ago central becomes peripheral and what was a moment ago irrelevant can become central. The architecture of the brain is also plastic and morphs with experience. This often occurs with in the synaptic areas, the so-called space in between the axons and dendrites. In this rendering then there is no separate self nor is there anything but a more or less temporary context. There is memory, which conspires to “capture” experience in its irregular and faulty web.

Mattering is often said to depend significantly on context. Let us consider carefully what we name context because it is not unlike what many of us call “nature.” By this is meant the animals and plants that are “out in the wild,” outside ourselves and outside urban areas (Berman, 1981). Similarly the idea of “context” is often viewed as an external or secondary influence on each individual. These too are all artificial and human distinctions, born of the need of the human mind to detect/create pattern and boundary.

We humans are very much part of nature, but narcissistically consider ourselves the center of that universe. This belief is also related to the construct of the individual, competitive self. If no other message gets through, the planet is desperately trying to tell us that separation and centrality are not the case and to continue to act upon this belief will mean certain destruction. Context also knows no boundary. It is a pattern of influences that are always morphing and changing shape and influence on any individual or aggregate. As I have said elsewhere, “What begins as context ends as self” (1992, p. 7). Any “self” can also serve as context for others.

This important concept also exhausts the metaphor of intersectionality and is better served by a model incorporating its complexity such as that of morphing multiplicity. Thus, I will not invoke crossroads or intersections as metaphorical meeting places. I will assert instead that forces and influences are differently embedded in each other and acting upon each other, sometimes functioning in unison or partial unison, but rarely if ever just crossing at the corners. With this new model, we can open the imagination to possibility.

CLINICAL APPLICATIONS

Over the years, my students and I have identified numerous areas of influence that must be kept in view in any complex assessment. As such, we have provided a sort of schematic representation for contextual analysis of presenting and ongoing issues and influences. However, it is best used as a focusing exercise or a series of suggestions and is not intended to be taken as taxonomy. Its method entails practice in the sense that psychotherapy or mindfulness are practices; its goal is not simplicity, but complexity. It encourages and permits perception of the complicated forces that contribute to mattering.

This practice is completely accessible to clients, contains no esoteric or medicalized language (except in describing medical conditions) and, thus, can be utilized by both or all participants in the therapeutic endeavor. It can also be used to assess ongoing change in the moment or over a course of sessions. It is only a tool, however, and a necessarily constrained attempt to present multi-dimensional interaction in a form that can be momentarily captured and held by the human mind. Consistent use, however, helps develop the habit of complexity until it becomes “second nature” not to look away. This attitude is often called “beginner’s mind” in Buddhist thought (Suzuki, 2006).

The areas of context/self that we have identified include, but are not limited to:

  1. Gender
  2. Race
  3. Ethnicity
  4. Culture, Language
  5. Class
  6. Ecology-Environment
  7. Physical Health, Biology, Neurology
  8. Family
  9. Interpersonal other than family (e.g., peers, friends, teachers)
  10. Religious-Spiritual
  11. Written and Electronic Media. Level of literacy
  12. Other Institutions, e.g., school, work
  13. Age, Life cycle
  14. Political Beliefs
  15. Group Memberships
  16. Education
  17. Sexual Orientation
  18. Substance-Use and Abuse
  19. Violence
  20. Finances
  21. Power
  22. Experience with other cultural contexts such as travel
  23. Other

It is important to note that in a cultural context different from the one in which I am writing, items may be added and subtracted. For example, many individuals in African countries do not know their age, as they do not celebrate birthdays. They would be able to identify life cycle, but in their own terms.

Probability and Paradox

These probabilistic forces can become manifest in many different combinations over time. We also make room for paradox and uncertainty, for the unique chemistry of the moment and the context/relationship. As such disparate musicians as Claude Debussy, Thelonius Monk and Miles Davis have called attention to the importance of the space between the notes, so must we be cognizant of the space between the variables, along with the space between people. Identity itself is always contingent, as each contingency shapes the others.

This outline, intentionally general to maintain flexibility, may seem overwhelming to the unpracticed eye and mind, but can and does become second nature through practice, as it merely complicates the practice of mindfulness, of making the sometimes invisible visible. Any ethical and competent practice must consider all these ongoing influences in conjunction with each other. Not to acknowledge these influences is not good human or therapeutic practice. Doing so is only respectful to each person’s full humanity.

The interaction of all these influences is something like a multi-dimensional kaleidoscope. Perception is slippery. That is, traditional diagnosis is generally applied statically to the entire course of therapy, if not longer. The Mattering Map can morph in a second, slowly and steadily or not at all, as the central becomes marginal and the marginal central. Different influences are salient at different moments.

Psychological assessment and understanding also are best understood as probabilistic. When a psychological force attains a certain degree of density and probability, it becomes visible and is conventionally considered by Western epistemology to be part of the self. It is the very involvement of an observer that turns probability into existence. The self is best understood as a set of oscillating and morphing probabilities with various vectors of expression. Yet we are always limited in our knowledge of a system of which we are part (Hofstadter,1979).

Resisting Reification

It is dangerous to make a list, to name names, to identify a pattern. The danger is reification, that almost irresistible psychological force that strives for mastery by a narrowing of focus. It is a freeze frame photograph. Reification is arrogant. “What I see is all there is.” Based in the limited experience of our human senses, we come to believe that we live in a world of substance and matter rather than in one of ideas and perceptions. In this way, matter occludes mattering and reality is elevated from perception to fact, from mental construct to empirical observation. Empiricism exists in the form it does because we humans exist in the form we do. It takes a conscious effort at resistance because our senses perceive only the solid three-dimensional world and the results of those prosthetic devices that extend the human senses, such as cameras, x-ray machines and scanning devices.

Whether to privilege gender or race or sexual orientation is not the best way to formulate a question that matters. Instead, which one(s) is central or influential in a particular circumstance and at a particular moment on a particular map? Which ones provide intimate context and which ones more distant context? By intimate context, I mean that they are extremely salient and strongly related to the aspect(s) that may be central at any given moment. To do otherwise unquestioningly is to reproduce rather than to notice the multiple effects of colonization (Oliver, 2004) in each of us..

I would like to offer an example of the cultural Mattering Map in the United States, which conflates race and nationality, particularly in relation to Latin American immigrants. Too few North Americans are aware that citizens of these countries can be and are Black, White, or Brown. The minute they cross the border, they are transformed into People of Color on the North American Mattering Map. Some accept this designation, others resist it or become confused. I have had many Costa Rican friends and colleagues say to me “In my own country, I am white.” Seemingly the North American eye cannot see White in conjunction with a Spanish accent. It does not compute. In fact, I have had the experience of a bystander observing me speaking Spanish to a Mexican colleague commenting, “But you look White.” That is, I look White, but am I? That depends entirely on what being White means.

An African-American friend of mine told me this story about an incident in which she was involved in Paris. She was seated alone in a café or bistro and was receiving abysmal service, the result of racism she was sure after enduring these insults for a lifetime. It turned out that she was being discriminated against, but for being an American.

As another example, in the United States and an increasing number of other countries, homosexuality has gone, in my lifetime, from an incurable and tragic illness to an alternative lifestyle to candidacy for full civil and constitutional rights and equality. Some might call this simple progress and perhaps progress is, after all, a change of perspective, of focus, on certain patterns built on the foundation of certain beliefs. As homosexuality becomes more ordinary and visible, it may completely disappear as a category.

The mind is slippery and the inner voice a chatterbox with different degrees of fluidity and change. Invoking the Buddhist concept of “monkey mind,” I note that the interior voice is much more fluid than the external one has been trained to be. It is in fact, a shape shifter of sorts. A single comment can cause a mattering map to slip and slide. Only this change is inevitable.

METAPHOR AND MULTIPLICITY

As the mattering map resembles a multi-dimensional neural network, so are there many paths to many areas connecting and disconnecting simultaneously. Most, if not all, of the potential areas of influence listed above are simultaneously involved, although they may not be accessible to awareness. This is precisely why multiplicity must become a practice. All the influences in the suggested list are always present with some degree of force and relationship. The question is “How and when do they matter?”

Finally, let me note that metaphor can serve as a practiced and helpful guide on the Mattering Map precisely because it leads to new and multiple connections and does not pave over fertile ground with concrete. Instead metaphor honors multiplicity and imagination, complexity and context and so the Mattering Map itself. It connects often in surprising and imaginative ways, moving and morphing as it guides the traveler and the sedentary alike.

The Mattering Map is capacious, containing many smaller metaphors such as the waves of feminism, the journey and the traveler seeking change or renewal, the archeology of psychodynamic depth and the vistas of breadth and growth of the humanistic vision. As the seasons of a life or an entire movement change, so does the map. The Mattering Map recognizes and provides a concept complex enough to represent and contain the fullness of human experience. It is large and generous, a full figured model, if you will, and it keeps the theories and the practices of psychology focused on the complexity and multiplicity of what really matters at any given moment.

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This article was originally published in Psychology Today.

Ellyn Kaschak

Ellyn Kaschak

Ellyn Kaschak, Ph.D. is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning psychologist, author and teacher. She is well-known as a speaker, workshop leader, human rights advocate and a public intellectual.