Yin and Yang out of balance

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approaches dynamic balance in a way different from Western medicine.

2.3. TCM Based on Yellow Emperor’s Canons of Internal Medicines

As one can clearly see, Yin and Yang are always in constant dynamic motion maintained by a continuous adjustment of the relative levels of Yin and Yang. When either Yin or Yang are out of balance, they naturally affect each other and change their proportions to achieve a new balance. And there are four possible ways in which a Yin-Yang imbalance can occur as illustrated in the diagram below:

1) Preponderance or Dominance of Yin
When Yin is excessive, it induces the decrease of Yang and it also means that the Yin consumes Yang.

2) Preponderance of Yang
When Yang is excessive, it induces the decrease of Yin and it also means that Yang consumes Yin.

3) Weaknesses of Yin
When Yin is weak, Yang will be seen in apparent excess. This apparent excess is only in relation to the deficient quality of Yin.

4) Weaknesses of Yang
When Yang is weak, Yin will be seen in apparent excess. Similarly, this apparent excess is only in relation to the deficient quality of Yang.

Therefore, in these illustrations, it is very critical to be able to see the differences between the two states: the preponderance of Yin and the weakness of Yang. This is because on one state it is the truly excess Yin and on the other state it is the weakness of Yang that Yin is seen as apparent excess. Similarly, this differentiation applies between the preponderance of Yang and the weakness of Yin. [8]

  • [8] G. Maciocia, “The Foundation of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text for Acupuncturists and Herbalist,” Churchill Livingston, London, 1989.

It can be said that the theory of Yin and Yang is fundamental in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and every physiological process and every symptom or sign of a human body can be analyzed in the light of the Yin-Yang theory. In other words, TCM sees illness as an imbalance in the patient’s whole system. It tries to get to the underlying root cause of a health problem. The aim is to heal the person’s mind, body and spirit rather than just his or her sore throat or stomach ache. [11] Ultimately every treatment modality is aimed at 1) improving Yang, 2) improving Yin, 3) reducing excess Yang and reducing excess Yin, and understanding the application of the theory of Yin-Yang theory is of great importance.

Source: P. Low and S. Ang, “The Foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine,” Chinese Medicine , Vol. 1 No. 3, 2010, pp. 84-90. doi: 10.4236/cm.2010.13016. Also cached at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235933675_The_Foundation_of_Traditional_Chinese_Medicine

Very interesting, thanks for sharing. I feel like I have to sit with this excess of knowledge to truly appreciate it. It is simple and yet profound at the same time.

After my comments in our past peer circle, I’m reconsidering the value of yin yang. The bars are less known, but many people are familiar with the circular nested symbol related to harmony, or balance.
Zaid, how skilled are you at visualizing the symbol in 3-D, separating the parts for the imbalances described by David, in space/time.
Can you visualize the two parts in a circle on a pole for the balanced visual?
If not, I could demonstrate it, in person, but we are not meeting until the new year, and I’m not sure if you are on 2019 deadline for the presentation deck.
If there’s any value in this visual, let me know. Or if I’ve yet to grasp the concept.
Further, the left side of the ‘Panarchy, maladaptation, and yin-yang balance’ visual seem to be of interest for business, whereas the right side is more social/government focus. I can think of incidents where business would realize they were in a right side situation, but adapt. ?

@kellyo2 , my current thinking is that presentations for laymen would be focused on affordances and capacities.

If we can correlate (i) affordances with an ecological perspective; and (ii) capacities with a behavioural perspective, we can leave a lot of the details for the very few who are willing to dive into the philosophical.

If we were to write this all up in a book (and the Systems Changes team might do that, someday), it’s possible that yin-yang would only show up in an Appendix.

The problem with yin-yang is that it’s a philosophy not only underpinning Traditional Chinese Medicine (described by Keekok Lee as contextual dyadic thinking), but more general beyond science into other interpretations of the world.

As @engdan said, this understanding of (i) yin correlating to structure, and (ii) yang correlating to function, isn’t what most people understand when they see the nested swirl figures. For now, we may have enough of a challenge getting the ideas straight amongst ourselves, let alone those who aren’t interested in really getting to scholarly depths.

@kellyo2 , you’re referring the second of two slides that I showed at the Dec. 2 meeting that we had at CSI. I created that to show how rigidity traps and poverty traps – that are essentially one-dimensional in the panarchy model today – might potentially be extended to be two-dimensional.

While I used the yin-yang bars in one balanced and four maladaptive cases, the text underneath those diagram may be more descriptive of the main ideas, without having to resort to yin-yang bars. I’ll leave some of that for @zaid_khan to think over.

In the left column, we have cases of overproduction, where capacities > affordances. (The right column has overconsumption, as affordances > capacities).

In the first world, most of us benefit from economies where capacities > affordances, which may be better recognized as supply > demand. As an example, generally the supply of food > demand for food. However, in urban centres, the supply of housing < demand for housing … so I’m not sure that we we can generalize across all cases in the first world.

For all four maladaptive situations, though, the question is whether we are willing (i.e. making a value judgment in an appreciative systems approach) to transform the situations in ones where there is balance.

Getting out of a maladaptive situation (i.e. rigidity trap, or poverty trap) is probably more than natural adaptation, and would require an intervention.

I can hopefully contribute to some understanding of the Yin-Yang (this is an ancient way of thinking; no correlate in the modern way of looking at the world really). Maybe there is a connection with the 5 Elements in the ancient sciences of Greeks and Sophists (but I need to research more and will post about it in an essay here)

Agreed, this is how I am thinking about the focus on the presentation. More so landing a coherent way to serve up this core idea, and then seeing what visuals need to accompany.

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