5 Principles of Integrality, Resonancy, and Helicy

The Science of Unitary Human Beings 2.0

Howard Butcher

Rogers derived three principles of homeodynamics which together describe the “nature and direction” of change. Rogers stated that the principles are a way of perceiving unitary human beings and that the “evidence of which these principles hold arises out of examination of the real world (1970, p. 102). Furthermore, the principles are to serve as a guide for both research and practice. All four postulates (energy field, openness, pattern, and pandimensionality) are evident in each of the three principles which propose a view of change that is evolutionary. Change is continuous because energy fields are continuously dynamic. In Rogers’ original work, published in 1970, there were 4 principles: reciprocy, synchrony, helicy, and resonancy. In the mid 1970, Rogers combined the principles of reciprocy and synchrony and suggested that “complementarity” better captured the idea of “mutual simultaneous interaction.” Malinski (1994) pointed out that Rogers felt students were interpreting the principles as they were understood in other disciples, and continued to refine them for the purpose of greater clarity. What is also evident in Rogers’ revisions in terminology, like the change of terminology from multidimensionailty to pandimensionality, is she was guided by the need to give clarity to idea of oneness of a unitary reality. For example, complementarity conveys multiplicity, as did the terms reciprocy and interaction, whereas “unitary” was meant to convey a “irreducible and indivisible whole.” In 1983 she renamed complementarity, integrality and dropped terms like “interaction” from the definition and instead used the term “mutual process.”

5.1 Integrality

Integrality is the “continuous mutual human and environmental field process.” Integrality describes the oneness of human and environmental fields. Human and environmental fields co-evolve together in mutual process. Integrality reflects the oneness and unity or wholeness of humans and their environment. Recognizing integrality means we need to free ourselves from the habit of thinking that we are just disconnected fragments. In nursing practice, integrality means: a) moving from an emphasis on the isolated self, from the consciousness of what one knows individually, to the consciousness of what one knows together; b) moving from the old focus on individual heroic competition against the world to co-evolution, collaboration, and reverence; c) moving from seeing nature as a collection of isolated objects to experiencing that one is an essential aspect of nature’s pattern; d) involves the realization that the observer is integral to what he or she is observing; e) moving from an exclusive emphasis on logic, analysis, and objectivity to the ability to think aesthetically which includes analysis but recognizes its limits; and f) requires synthesis and unitary thinking. Unitary knowing requires recognizing events are: not linear or cyclical, but share mutual simultaneous shaping; all phenomena are connected but are distinguishable by pattern; and the continuous dynamic nature of pattern requires a focus on the experiences, processes, and meaning of change. In nursing practice, participating with the whole means moving from obsessive focus on control and prediction to a sensitivity toward unpredictability, emergence, and change, and using our subtle actions to become participators in and facilitators of rather than managers of change.

Integrality opens one up to discovering the mysteries of oneness and the mysteries of unpredictable manifestations arising from a non-linear universe of “deep connectedness.” Integrality requires a deep awareness of the inseparability of persons with their universe. Interestingly, compassion and integrality are linked in that compassion is a “keen awareness of the interdependence of all living things” (Fox, 1999, p. 23). To accept integrality is to live and act compassionately motivated by genuine love of all our relations and love for our shared interdependence and to see beyond the illusion of our separateness and fragmentation by uncovering and experiencing ways in which all is interconnected to reveal hidden patterns of oneness.

Appreciating integrality increases one’s awareness of non-local connections within a pandimensional universe and provides an understanding of paranormal events. Rogers’ principle of integrality postulates a “deep interconnectedness” of infinite pandimensional human and environmental fields.” Deep interconnectedness” demonstrated by Bell’s Theorem embraces the interconnectedness of everything unbounded by space and time. In addition, the work of Dossey (2001), Nadeau and Kafatos (1999), Sheldrake (1988), and Talbot (1991) explicate the role of nonlocality in evolution, physics, cosmology, consciousness, paranormal phenomena, healing, and prayer. Within a nonlinear-nonlocal context, paranormal events are our experience of the deep nonlocal interconnections that bind the universe together.

5.2 Resonancy

Resonancy is defined as “the continuous change from lower to higher frequency wave patterns in human and environmental fields.” Malinski (2006) notes that although the process of change was nonlinear, she was unable to move away from the language of using linear “from lower to higher” movement of wave frequency pattering. It is best to think of wave frequencies as continually fluctuating, manifesting both higher and lower frequency patterns. Since energy fields are dynamic, continuously changing, and everything is in motion, manifesting patterns that are perceived as waves, it follows that there are frequencies of patterning. Frequency is a way of understanding the nature of pattern. Patterns manifesting from the energetic human and environmental mutual field process have changing patterns, and all changing patterns can be characterized by frequencies. In describing frequencies, Rogers (1970) described the life process as “likened to cadences—sometimes harmonic, sometimes cacophonous, sometimes dissonant; rising and falling; now fast, now slow–ever changing in a universal orchestration of dynamic wave patterns” (p. 101). The life process is propagated by waves and the universe is a symphony of rhythmical vibration oscillating at various frequencies. Everything is in motion: superstrings are vibrating; electrons are spinning; cells are in motion; light and sound are vibrating waves of photons and air; and human are a collection of circadian rhythms linking them with changing environmental patterns light and and dark. Cycles are frequencies, or changing wave patterns. The seasons and lunar cycles are patterns of the the moon revolving around the earth, and the earth around the sun. Planets revolve around the sun, while the sun spins and revolves in the our galaxy; a galaxy that is spinning around the center of the Milky Way, while the Milky Way spins through the universe. Everything is in motion and where there is motion, there is change. Where there is change, there are frequencies describing the nature of wave pattering, many of which that are beyond the perception of human beings. Our lives manifest changing frequencies. Cycles in our life repeat, never quite the same, but yet similar. We may get “stuck” in a particular pattern. Resonancy gives meaning to such common expressions as “I’m feeling out of rhythm;” we are not on the same frequency;” “you have the right vibe” and “these are turbulent times.”

In a reconceptualization of the experience of turbulence within a Rogerian science perspective, Butcher (1993) described turbulence is a common human experience in our life process. Turbulence is a dissonant commotion in the human-environmental field process characterized by chaotic and unpredictable wave frequency patterns. During the life process, persons experience unpredictable, traumatic, tempestuous, and sometimes chaotic life events. He described how one can “flow” this turbulence using “an intense harmonious involvement in the human-environmental field mutual process” (p. 190). Flowing with turbulence is a mutual creative expression of beauty and grace and is a way of enhancing perseverance through difficult times. Nurses can compassionately assist clients in flowing with turbulent change by cultivating purpose, forging resolve, and recovering harmony (Butcher, 1993; 2001). Cultivating purpose involves assisting clients in identifying goals and developing an action system. The action system is comprised of patterning strategies designed to promote harmony amid adversity and facilitate the actualization of potentials for well being. In moments of turbulence, clients may need to increase their awareness using creative suspension to facilitate comprehension of the situation’s complexity. Guided imagery is useful in creative suspension by assisting clients to enter a timeless suspension directed toward visualizing the whole situation and facilitating the creation of new strategies and solutions. Forging resolve is assisting the client in becoming involved and immersed in their action system. Since chaotic and turbulent systems are infinitely sensitive, actions are “gentle” or subtle in nature and distributed over the entire system involved in the change process. Entering chaotic systems with a “big splash” or trying to force a change in a particular direction will likely lead to increased turbulence (Butcher, 1993; 2001). Forging resolve involves incorporating flow experiences into the change process. Flow experiences promote harmonious human/environmental field patterns. There are a wide range of flow experiences that can be incorporated into daily activities: art, music, exercise, reading, gardening, meditation, dancing, sports, sailing, swimming, carpentry, sewing, yoga or any activity which is a source of enjoyment, concentration, and deep involvement. The incorporating of flow experiences into daily patterns facilitates recovering harmony. Recovering harmony is achieving a sense of courage, balance, calm, and resilience amid turbulent and threatening live events (Butcher, 1993, 2001).

5.3 Helicy

Helicy is the “continuous, innovative, unpredictable, increasing diversity in human and environmental field patterns.” The principle of helicy encompassed the concepts of rhythmically, negentropic evolutionary emergence, and the unitary nature of the human-environment relationship. Much like a vortex, the helical or spiraling rhythms of life, depicted by Rogers as a Slinky®, are “inextricably woven into the rhythms of the universe” (Rogers, 1970, p. 100). The helical Slinky® connotes the ever rhythmically evolving emergence of the human-environmental field toward increasing innovation. The definition of helicy was first revised in 1980 to: “The nature and direction of human and environmental change is continuously innovative, probabilistic, and characterized by increasing diversity of human and environmental field pattern and organization emerging out of the continuous, mutual, simultaneous interaction between human and environmental fields and manifesting non-repeating rhythmicities” (Rogers, 1980, p. 333). There was essentially no change in meaning between the 1970 and 1980 definitions. Rather, the 1980 definition is a clarification of the original definition. The principle of complementarity, later renamed integrality, is explicitly incorporated into the 1980 definition of helicy to highlight the significance of mutual simultaneity to contradict the notion of causality. In 1986, Rogers simplified the definition of helicy by defining it as “the continuous, innovative, probabilistic increasing diversity of human and environmental field patterns characterized by nonrepeating rhythmicities” (Rogers, 1986, p. 6). The final and most significant revision and subsequent change in meaning of the principle of helicy occurred when Rogers (1990) substituted the term “unpredictable” for probabilistic and simplified the definition further by dropping the phrase “characterized by nonrepeating rhythmicities.” Rogers’ (1990a) last definition of helicy is the “continuous innovative, unpredictable, increasing diversity of human and environmental field pattern” (p. 8). Rogers (1990a) quotes Mallove’s (1989) “The Solar System in Chaos” and Peterson’s (1989) “Digging into the Sand” to provide rationale as to why unpredictability “transcends probability” (p. 8).

While Rogers may have been initially influenced by the emergence of chaos theory as support for the notion of unpredictability, she later clarified that chaos theory was embedded in an old world view still based on mathematical assumptions about reduction, determinism, and causality (Butcher, 1997). Peat (1991) stated “indeed, chaos theory is essentially a deterministic theory of nature and raises the question, can a deterministic theory truly capture the essence nature’s chaos?” (p. 197). However, chaos theory and Rogers’ principle of helicy are similar since both emphasize the inherent unpredictable nature of change.

Support for the notion of acausal unpredictability may be found in new emerging and even more radical views of the nature of reality. For example, Cahill and Klinger, two Australian physicists at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, propose a new understanding of the universe based on the randomness inherent in quantum theory. They propose, “if you could lift a corner of the veil that shrouds reality, what you would see beneath is nothing but randomness” (Chown, 2000, p. 26). Space-time, and all that is, is no more than froth on a deep sea of randomness. Cahill states, “Far from being merely associated with quantum measurements, this randomness is the very heart of reality.” Cahill goes on to say that this randomness generates everything . . . “it even creates the sensation of the present” (Chown, 2000, p. 26).

Unpredictability is a manifestation of randomness and a reflection of the nature of reality. In Stephen Wolfram’s book, A New Kind of Science (2002), he convincingly argues and demonstrates that even the simplest systems generate random and unpredictable behavior. As the principle of helicy indicates, change is unpredictable. By embracing the notion of helicy, one can envision the world as a flux of patterns, with sudden turns, surprising relationships, hidden order and hidden meaning, paradoxes, increasing diversity, and uncertainty. Understanding helicy opens radical new ways of thinking and experiencing reality and challenges us to query our assumptions about our illusion of control and predictability.

As a means to further understanding of the meaning of helicy, Butcher (2002) explicated seven insights evolving from an analysis of nature of unpredictability. The seven insights were derived by reformulating Briggs and Peat’s (1999) original “seven lessons on chaos” in a way that is more consistent with Rogers’ Science of Unitary Human Beings. Briggs and Peat (1999) have described how chaos theory is evolving from a scientific theory into a cultural metaphor. They suggest that instead of resisting life’s uncertainties, we should embrace the possibilities that uncertainty offers. The seven insights were not intended as prescriptions, but rather as provocations and as enduring insights that serve to create a deeper understanding of nature helicy. Those insights relevant to this discussion of helicy include: cultivating creativity and using butterfly power.

Cultivating Creativity: Within Rogerian science, the unpredictability inherent in helicy is a source of creativity. Change is creative. In a pandimensional, nonlinear universe, anything can happen. The idea of creativity and helicy have always been linked. The very definition of helicy incorporates creativity because helical change is always “innovative” (Rogers, 1992, p. 8). The notions of accelerating change, increasing diversity, and nonlinearity all are manifestations of a creative human-environmental mutual process. The poet Keats spoke about how creators and visionaries cultivate the ability to live in what he called “doubts and uncertainties” long enough to permit something new to bloom (Briggs & Peat, 1999, p. 22). Krishnamurti (1948) also believed that a deep creative appreciation of life only comes when there is enormous uncertainty. In addition, numerous contemporary theories have described now unpredictability, randomness, and chaos are the source of creativity including Prigogine and Strengers’ (1984) theory of dissipative structures, Bohm’s (1980) generative order, Poincare’s theories of chaos, and most recently, Wolfram’s (2002) principle of computational equivalence. Furthermore, Chowen (2000) explains that Cahill and Klinger believe that unpredictability and randomness are at the very heart of creation. As one enters the vital turbulence of life, everything is always new. Creativity includes the production of novelty.

Helicy fuels creativity. Laura Sewall provides some insight into the creative process by explaining how the imagination and creativity provide a bridge between ourselves and the world. Meaning is created by bridging or gluing ourselves with the things in the world through imagination (Sewall, 2000). Imagination brings the world into being. According to Sewall, to be visionary is to turn ourselves to the edges of known experience where experience becomes flavored with the unknown, where the imagination steps forward into the realm of possibility. The practice of the visionary is a perceptual act and there is an art to this.

To quote Sewall . . .

“It is the ability to free one’s view from the conditioned and programmed worldview – – – an unpatterning of the assumed world—- and then artfully stitching it back together through the power of a cultivated imagination. Cultivated in this sense means informed and shaped by the integrity and the wholeness displayed by the visible world, or imaginations created and filled by attending to the patterns of a world still intact”(p. 23).


Researchers who have studied the creative process have found that creative people have a high tolerance for ambiguity and ambivalence; broad interests; attraction to complexity, intuition, sensitivity, and chaos (Briggs & Peat, 1999; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Oldham & Cummings, 1996). For over 30 years, an ethic of creativity and innovation has been promoted by nursing theorists (Gilmartin, 1999). Rogers (1992) defined the art of nursing as the creative and imaginative use of knowledge for the purpose of human betterment. Similarly, Levine (1973) described nursing as a poetical art, an art in which reason and imagination come together to create a new and unique human experience.

Nurses who cultivate creativity enhance the art of nursing. All nurses can enhance the use of creativity in practice by engaging in activities that cultivate creativity. Csikszentmihalyi (1996), in his study of creativity, suggests one can cultivate creativity by a) trying to be surprised by something every day; b) trying to surprise a person every day; c) following what strikes a spark of interest; d) increasing the complexity of those activities you enjoy; e) making time for reflection and relaxation; f) creating living and working environments that facilitate creativity; g) examining problems from multiple viewpoints; h) using divergent thinking to generate as many ideas as possible; and i) becoming involved in activities that are most enjoyable and meaningful to you.

Using Butterfly Power: Living with unpredictability means recognizing that subtle actions when caring for patients have the potential to create the most meaning and change. Embedded in the notion of helicy are the resonating nonrepeating rhythms of an acausal human-universe life process. The helical change manifests through the mutual process of human and environmental fields. Integrality describes the oneness, unity, and inseparable nature of helical human environmental fields. A universe of deep connectedness and infinite sensitivity means small changes through nonlinear and nonlocal connections in a pandimensional reality potentially gives rise to major transformations. Butterfly power involves the recognition and use of subtle energies. Subtle actions and gentle movements resonate and can amplify through nonrepeating rhythmicities creating major transformations (Peat, 1991). For example, weather systems are so sensitive the flapping wings of a butterfly can change tomorrow’s weather (Gleick, 1987; Peat, 1991). Edward Lorenz, who studied nonlinear changes in the weather, referred to this as the “butterfly effect.” While a butterfly seemly has little power, in a universe deep connectedness and infinite sensitivity, the fluttering wings of a butterfly can be felt on the other side of the world.

The power in the nurse’s healing is often hidden in the subtle compassionate actions such as spending extra time with a patient or a family in crisis or the subtle effect of compassionate and calming words and the gentle touch of soothing hands. Numerous research studies demonstrate that communication, the words one uses, can have a profound effect on healing. At the same time, the vital subtle caring actions can appear to make nurse’s contributions to health and healing invisible.

The deep connectedness and infinite sensitivity of helicy means one individual, or one group can deeply transform the world. Acting collectively and as individuals, butterfly power provides the means by which nursing’s voice and visibility can become commensurate with the size and importance of nursing in health care. In a pandimensional universe, one may not know the immediate outcome or if a specific action leads to a particular transformation, but one can act with intention compassion, and with awareness that the subtlest actions can potentate major transformation. Through our collective efforts one can make the invisible subtlety of caring visible and educate the populace about the invaluable contribution nurses make to the health of society.


Martha E. Rogers' Nursing Science Copyright © 2018 by Howard Butcher. All Rights Reserved.

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