Skip to main content

The Order-Disorder Paradox

Understanding the Hidden Side of Change in Self and Society

Nathan Schwartz-Salant


List Price: 15.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Increasing order in a system also creates disorder: this seemingly paradoxical idea has deep roots in early cultures throughout the world, but it has been largely lost in our modern lives as we push for increasing systematization in our world and in our personal lives. Drawing on nearly five decades of research as well as forty-five years working as a psychoanalyst, Nathan Schwartz-Salant explains that, in a world where vast amounts of order are being created through the growing success of science and technology, the concomitant disorder is having devastating effects upon relationships, society, and the environment. As a Jungian analyst with training in the physical sciences, Schwartz-Salant is uniquely qualified to explore scientific conceptions of energy, information, and entropy alongside their mythical antecedents. He analyzes the possible effects of created disorder, including its negative consequences for the creator of the preceding order as well as its potentially transformative functions. With many examples of the interaction of order and disorder in everyday life and psychotherapy, The Order-Disorder Paradox makes new inroads into our understanding of the wide-ranging consequences of the order we create and its effects on others and the environment.

Praise For The Order-Disorder Paradox: Understanding the Hidden Side of Change in Self and Society

“This brilliant, wise, and profound book is a masterwork by one of the world’s leading psychologists. Drawing on a vast array of sources and a lifetime’s experience, Nathan Schwartz-Salant reveals a great truth hidden at the heart of the world’s authentic mystical traditions: that all new order also creates disorder. This extraordinary work is a must-read for all those who want to understand the rhythms of life and the meanings of our contemporary chaos.”
—Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism
The Order-Disorder Paradox is the result of five decades of devoted investigation in the domains of mathematics, engineering, psychology, and mysticism. It is not only a cogent, elegant, and highly original theory but also an eminently practical way to understand the seemingly unpredictable oscillations of psychological healing and personal transformation. This book calls for powerful and immediate shifts in how we approach the clinical encounter as well as the life of the soul.”
—Lorie Eve Dechar, author of Five Spirits: Alchemical Acupuncture for Psychological and Spiritual Healing
“Schwartz-Salant offers a far-reaching and profound exploration of the dialectical interplay between order and disorder. Moving beyond the contemporary rationalist worldview that seeks to repress disorder in favor of order, he points us to a trans-rational alternative well suited to our tumultuous times—an alternative that, in harking back to our pre-rational origins in myth, does not merely regress to those origins but carries us forward into new territory. The Order-Disorder Paradox is a highly significant, compelling work that deserves the rapt attention of theorists, psychoanalysts, and laypeople alike.”
—Steven Rosen, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, College of Staten Island, City University of New York; author of Dreams, Death, Rebirth 
“This long-awaited book comes at just the right time—not only for psychotherapists, who will benefit greatly from its clinical insights, but also for scholars of politics and culture. This is a deeply thought-out work, the fruit of many years of reflection and patient observation.”
—Murray Stein, PhD, author of Soul: Treatment and Recovery

North Atlantic Books, 9781623171162, 176pp.

Publication Date: April 11, 2017

About the Author

Trained in Jungian psychology at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zürich, Switzerland, Nathan Schwartz-Salant has been a psychoanalyst in private practice since 1968. He is the author of several books on Jungian analysis, including Narcissism and Character Transformation and The Mystery of Human Relationship: Alchemy and the Transformation of the Self.