Regression II. Development through regression
As shown in our previous paper (‘Regression I. Experimental approaches to
regression’, JAP, 65, 2, 345-65), the common mechanism of regression can be
described as reversible dedifferentiation, which is understood as a relative increase of
the proportion of low-differentiated (older) systems in actualized experience.
Experimental data show that regression following disease (chronic tension headache) is
followed by adaptation and an increase in system differentiation in that experience
domain which contains systems responsible for that adaptation. The results of
mathematical modelling support the idea that reversible dedifferentiation can be one of
the mechanisms for increasing the effectiveness of adaptation through learning.
Reversible dedifferentiation, which is phenomenologically described as regression, is a
general mechanism for restructuring the organism-environment interactions in
situations where behaviours that were effective in the past become ineffective.
Reversible dedifferentiation has evolved as a component of adaptation when new
behaviours are formed and large-scale modifications in the existing behaviours are
required in the face of changes in the external and/or internal environment. Thus, the
authors believe that this article provides evidence for Jung’s view that regression is not
only a ‘return’ to past forms of thinking, affects and behaviour, but that regressive
processes provide a significant impetus for psychological growth and development.