Expressing human experience. LO24368

From: Bernhard Weber (
Date: 04/14/00

Replying to LO24358 --

Dear Organlearners, Dear AM de Lange

I have only erratically followed several of the OL-discussion threads for
the last weeks. So perhaps my contribution is an unnecessary sidestep to
your discussion. But I will know that from your reaction.

Before I try to contribute actively, allow me some words about me, to
contextualizise it anyway:I am Austrian. I am physician, if the original
academic background explains, what I am. I was a science-teacher at
different levels for many years, and was fascinated by group dynamics and
micro-sociology since the early 70ies. I learned a lot from reading and
discussing Lewin and Gregory Bateson and this brought me to growing
experiences in systemic training and consultancy . I started oscillating
between the two cultures: "hard science" and "social cience". Leaving my
work at the "Nuclear Safety Project" at the Institute of Condensed Matter
of the University of Vienna in 1994 I have been living and working at Cape
Verde Islands, one the the worlds so called LLCDs (least developed
countries), situated in the Southern Atlantic, some 400 miles westwards of
the African continent, since then. My little enterprise is mainly working
in capacity building projects in the sectors "education" and "micro-&
small enterprises" in the context of the Austrian Development Cooperation.

It's the key issue "sensory overload", that brought me out of the
background as an observer of the LO-list-multilogue, because it means a
lot to me. And also, because I feel protected in a discussion culture,
where scientific, metaphoric and spiritual ways of speaking can co-exist.

I have experienced some situations similar to the ones, AM de Lange
describes. They always had to do with "inter-culturality" in its strict or
in its metaphorical sense. Shortly after my entering a new culture
(language, perceptions, culture, ...the "new world") I could always
observe the described phenomena coming.

Using a systemic language I like to translate "sensory overload" by
"complexity overload". A central problem and a big learning chance mainly
for curious people, groups, organisations, ... so for learners of all

My experience is, that it is not only a question of "situations" becoming
too heavy to be handled mentally, but also a question of beeing "more" or
"less" open to the flow of incoming data. Yes, when the overflow was too
much, I tried to flee, to get out of the situation. But why wait so long?

I tried to learn to detect the first signs of the overflow and to reduce
my "perception", "borderlining" between following my "curiousness" and
giving my own system the chance to digest "the new". And it is true: all
kinds of expressions, talking with people who you know well and love,
painting, singing, shouting, dancing... help reducing the "shut-down
times" which our organism produces in case of sensory overload. It felt
always good to have some nourishing parts/extracts/structures/resources of
the "old system" (I was coming from) accessible within the "new system".
For example: closing the door and playing guitar or doing a trance voyage.

Hypothesis 1)

It could be fruit-bearing to relate the topic of "sensory overload" to the
experiences of many of the spiritual schools. Argument: Shamanistic
healers/Maes dos Santos/Zen-Buddhist Masters ... seem to be able to
reframe the "problem situation" into a powerful tool for individual
development. (->Oom Matewa Roos in AM de Lange's case) Where people learn
to open, to handle the resulting overflow by going into (ritual-protected
and/or master-accompanied) chaos and re-stucturing their mind ...

I suppose: It is worth to get more out of it than just to learn to become
"strong enough and (hope) that a similar thing would never happen to me
again." Of course closing down the system and delivering the control to
the automatic recovery system of our body by drinking a lot after "falling
to pieces" is a possibility to stay "together" in certain contexts. But
perhaps there are ways of reframing our views of "falling to pieces" from
beeing just a horrible feeling to becoming a part of an important
individual change process, where unfreezing is followed by change and
re-freezing at another level (of identity).

Hypothesis 2)

It could enrich our mental-maps & our tool-boxes to use and apply, what we
can learn from these, to LO's/Learning Social Systems.


Bernhard Weber
management & human resources
training, consulting & development GmbH
Praia Office, Cape Verde
Vienna Office, Austria


"Bernhard Weber" <>

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