Chinese psychology



“You owe yourself to find out what the interesting field of Chinese psychology is about.”

Nils Volden




This is the Psychology that exists within Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine has an official estimated history of about 3000 years; making Chinese psychology equally old. Normally Chinese psychology is included in Chinese medicine without being mentioned. Chairman Mao used Chinese medicine profitable during the Long march (1934-1935); 9.000 km in 370 days in terrible terrain. Mao promised during this march to make it the traditional medicine of China when he has gathered the country. In 1942 Chairman Mao officially had a type of negative feelings towards Chinese medicine, but this feeling was later changed to a positive wind for the Chinese medicine. The 1 October 1949, Chairman Mao proclaimed the founding of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) founded the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). After the founding of PRC, we see a clear positivity gradually growing for Chinese medicine specially in the period between 1953-1959. In 1954 Chairman Mao kept his promise and founded the TRADITIONAL Chinese medicine (TCM).



It is interesting to keep in mind that the doctor of Chairman Mao, Dr. Li Zhisui, were a western trained doctor that later told that his boss did not believe in – or use Chinese medicine. Giving us the idea that Mao founded TCM out of two important points first the necessity to have a medical system since the access to western medicine were limited for the 500 million Chinese at this point in time, a chronic lack of western trained medical doctors and the fact that the peasants used Chinese medicine in treating their illnesses. Note that it did not last long (4 years – 1958) before Mao promoted a unification of Chinese medicine and Western medicine. We should not underestimate the power of exporting TCM as a medical system to the west. Remember at this point it DID NOT exist a unified medical system called Chinese medicine. That meant that Mao had to invent it. Yes, it is true that Chinese medicine had existed for thousands of years, but NOT as a uniform system; different doctor – different technique. Mao decided to standardized through uniforming theories and promoting holism. Beside the common vocabulary within Chinese medicine we now find terms like preventative care (Yufangxing) and Holism (Zhengtiguan) as very visible. In a way Mao founded the basis of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the west through HIS introduction of noninvasive treatments, patient centered care, early intervention in treatment, preventative treatment against chronic, treat the origin, integrative thinking and support what works. The new system was thought at academies. The English word TRADITIONAL were used in English and not in common Chinese language. A massive campaign guided by the operation of appendicitis only with acupuncture anesthetics and a mystical interest for this unknown Chinese medical system created a World hit: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Some might say the myth of Chinese medicine lives in on in TCM. Some might think Western medicine vs Eastern wisdom, but the essence is that Traditional Chinese Medicine are a narrowing of Chinese medicine made by Chairman Mao.


Honestly and directly, we find a visible narrowing of the theories and philosophy used in Chinese medicine; especially the theories regarding psychology. Since mental problems officially did not exist anymore; making the psychological aspects of Chinese medicine become less important within Traditional Chinese Medicine. Within TCM today we find psychology more or less reduced to simple discussions around the aspects of the seven emotions, Hun and Po, and Shen. Psychology rarely exist as a theme in modern TCM literature.


Here the word Chinese psychology is commonly used to describe the information Nils Volden have collected about psychology within Chinese medicine and philosophy. He does not have any ownership or rights to this information, and he have NOT invented it. He does not want any honor connected to these discoveries. The only thing he wants is the introduction of the word CHINESE PSYCHOLOGY to illustrate this pool of knowledge and the integration of Chinese psychology in to make a COMPLETE Chinese medicine that covers everything it were intended to include physiology, psychology, sociology and spirituality, and not an incomplete Traditional Chinese Medicine. For many the word TCM Psychology or Chinese Medical Psychology would have been more correct than the word Chinese psychology. Since word Chinese psychology for some refer directly to the psychology of the Chinese population. Volden selected the word “Chinese psychology” of the same reason some before him selected the word “Chinese medicine”. This is a distinct system that have its roots in Chinese ways of thinking and is handling psychological aspects.



Chinese psychology divides the human being into two parts, Yin and Yang; Yin as the passive part and Yang as the active part. Chinese psychology continues this division in persons, constitutions and behaviors. In the extension of this we find a division into five distinct personalities called Roun, Chen, I, Pro and Teche (Liver, heart, spleen, lung and kidney); as a type of five elements division. It is important to know that this is not exactly the same as the more common wood, fire, earth, metal and water division adapted directly from five elements, but it might be compared. Each of the personalities has its own qualities and distinct aspects.


Everyday challenges and activities also create aspects in us all; filling our mind with thoughts and movement. Chinese psychology explains the mental processes through the mental model. The mental model tells us how the brain works and interacts with its different aspects Hun, Shen, Yi, Po and Zhi (Liver, heart, spleen, lung and kidney); as a type of five element division. It is important here to remember that this mental aspect is not connected as in the classical five element model. Here the focus is on how the psychic qi (the mental energy) circulates through the mind and how Hun mirrors itself into Po, and thereby creates a Fang wei (defense mechanism). The mental model explains the implications in the organs, muscles, divergent meridians and the activation of different Fang weis. Chinese psychology explores numerous models of Fang wei (defense mechanisms) and the interaction between aspects of the mind.


In short, Chinese psychology is a COMPLETE psychological system that explains who we are, how we are, and why we are like that. All the terminology within Chinese psychology is the same as within Chinese medicine. Some words are seldom used within traditional Chinese medicine and some might be new for some. Unfortunately, it still does not exist any good and complete literature on the topic. It is possible to use this system to enrich a psychologist practice, to adjust an acupuncture practice, select better treatment principles for Chinese trained doctors, understand better the patient for medical doctors, and for laymen to enrich the understanding of the mind.


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