The New Johari Window: #9 Turbulence
Order and Chaos
The white water model of turbulence is a very important corrective on many of the recent attempts at applying chaos theory to interpersonal relationships. Kaufmann suggests that chaos, per se, does not exist in an isolated form in any biological system. Rather, chaos is always being played off against and being balanced by the orderly functions of the system. When I was consulting to organizations in Eastern Europe immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was amazing to learn that the Russian Mafia was providing much of the order in many of the former Soviet countries (particularly Russia). It seems that an unlawful and criminal organization (like the Mafia) needs an orderly and lawful society in which to operate.
I discovered that the American Mafia played a similar role in the United States Federal prisons with which I consulted during the 1980s. After the Attika State Prison (New York) riots many years ago (when the inmates stole the correctional officers’ guns), most high security prisons in the United States no longer allow correctional officers to carry weapons (unless they are stationed in one of the protected control towers). Thus, without weapons, the correctional officers must control the highly volatile situation inside the prison through earning respect—and through the “informal” assistance of powerful inmates (often with Mafia or other criminal group ties). These inmate leaders are just as concerned with preserving law and order as the guards. Order must reign for the chaos of criminality to be successful—whether this is in Russia or in an America prison.
The same holds true in interpersonal relationships. Chaos can only reign supreme if there also is order. In his classic play regarding a chaotic marriage (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), Edward Albee describes a relationship between Martha, the daughter of a college president, and George, her husband and a “stuck” and despondent professor of English in this same college. A young couple has been invited over for dinner to witness the wild and chaotic ride of George and Martha’s relationship. Yet, underlying this chaos is a very important set of rules that govern the conduct of the interpersonal games that George and Martha play (often at the expense of and with the unwanted assistance of their guests). At a critical moment in the play, these long-established rules are about to be broken and we (along with George and Martha) recognize how profoundly important these rules—and this marital order—are to the psychological survival of both George and Martha.