Elmer’s Diagram

By Celia Coates
and, The States of Consciousness Diagram
by William Hale

In her post, Meeting Elmer Green, Gilah wrote that presenting The Diagram was a fixed feature of an annual Conference. (www.winnpost.org/2022/01/07/meeting-elmer-green)
What made that diagram so important? The simplest explanation is that it was (and is) a summation of Elmer’s life-long personal, spiritual explorations combined with his extensive studies of human consciousness, a summation that is presented as an image, a way to understand the concepts, and shown as a kind of “map” to indicate a way to travel the terrain.

From 1938 to 1943 Elmer studied with a spiritual teacher named Will J. Erwood and at the same time he was a student in the Institute of Physics at the University of Minnesota.
He wrote,
“The Teacher’s in-depth existential training, in contrast with the University’s intellectual training, gradually led toward an awareness of normally unconscious processes of body and psyche.”
And Elmer added that he,
“…became especially intrigued at the time by the physiological correlates, and this mechanisms-interest eventually led to the study of psychophysics – how does the world affect the mind and how does the mind affect the world.”

Elmer’s dual focus on both the physical and the mental/spiritual realities of being human made him a fine researcher and then, an extraordinary teacher. He was rigorous in undertaking both scientific studies and spiritual disciplines. He became someone who was sought out for his wisdom and for his complex understanding of the nature of consciousness. Elmer’s wife Alyce, who had also studied with Erwood, was an essential partner in their decades of work together.

In BEYOND BIOFEEDBACK, quoting an article published in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology in 1971, Elmer and Alyce wrote that,
“…those working toward the development of a science of consciousness find that one of the major difficulties in states-of-consciousness research is that there is no satisfactory vocabulary.  It is necessary to use Sanskrit words or to create totally new words, or to use words with which we are already familiar and define them by their usage so that they have specific new meanings.”
The Diagram begins to give us a way to clarify these ideas, since a picture really can be worth more than 1000 words.

They also wrote that The Diagram could be called “The Anatomy of a Psyche.”
“The figure was first sketched in 1963 for a psychology course, called Personality Functions, that I taught at the University of Chicago. The purpose in constructing it was to clarify the similarities and differences between the psychological systems of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. To wit: Freud limited his concepts to physical, emotional, and mental levels of the diagram: E1, E2, and E3. At one point (with what seems to us great insight) he noted that as far as the human psyche was concerned, he was working only in the ’basement.’ Jung on the other hand, concerned himself with all levels of the diagram. In his Psychological Commentary to W. Y. Evans-Wentz’s 1957 book THE TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD with which … (the Diagram) is quite consistent, with its many transpersonal levels of consciousness, Jung wrote; ‘For years, ever since it was first published (in 1927), the Bardo Thodo (The Tibetan Book of the Dead) has been my constant companion and to it I owe not only many stimulating ideas and discoveries, but also many fundamental insights.’”

William Hale, M.D. (Bill) first encountered the Green’s work when he was a research subject at the Menninger Foundation in the 1970s where Elmer and Alyce were doing pioneering studies in clinical biofeedback. He remained a close student of the Green’s work for many years, and  continues now presenting what Elmer had to teach especially in the later years of his life. Bill has written the best and most complete statement about The Diagram, and here is the link to his website (which is not an “unsafe” site despite what Google may say):


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The image that leads this post is from Pixabay – xuanduong87

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