The core of Conflict theory and treatment within Chinese medicine





“This is a topic ALL acupuncturists simply need to know. Most schools do not teach it. So, enjoy.”

Nils Volden



Within Chinese psychology we have the conflict of yin and yang as the guideline in the search of – and manifestation of conflicts. Often we find subjective experiences cause conflict related to cognitive problems; due to the way the mind works. Everything, according to Chinese psychology, absorbed by the Yi aspect of the mind; making the mind being filled by impressions and information. Remember Yi is not selective. Meaning that everything is absorbed, and the more sensitive Yi, the more information enters the mind. When the information flows into the mind the other aspects like Hun, Shen, Zhi and Po will process this information; sometimes we see flooding of Hun.


The mind will take all possible shortcuts to process the information as fast as possible; by that making the mind wounderable for irrational errors. A conflict is often sensed by Hun and processed by Shen and Zhi. The conflict does not need to exist as a real conflict. It is sufficient that something is perceived as one. All conflicts are subjective and based on something a person has internalized as the truth; this truth is not necessarily the truth. When the mind reads indications of a conflict we have to remember that this is something that is going on inside the individual mind; this is not directly accessible for others. The subtle nature of a conflict creates things in the individual that the others do not since. The mental model has latent aspects that not even the person that senses is conscious about. A subjective conflict is therefore difficult to grasp for the person (opponent/ sufferer) that involuntary is brought into the conflict and even less understandable for outsiders.  A sufferer of a conflict has great difficulties to project or discuss the base of the conflict to others. Of the simple reason, conflicts only exist as a result of a short cut in the mental process and not as a solid actual problem.  Chinese psychology name this mental short cut as 径道 Jìngdào or “Narrow path – way”. By this shows that the mind will to save time and energy trying to predict or guess outcome of future events. A mental process will therefore seldom (Yes, that strong) complete its mental path. It will at first chance try to guess the outcome of the mental process, and skip the cognitive process that normally should precede; making Jingdao a type of mental guessing game to save time and energy. As we all know, guessing is not equal to the truth.


When the interaction between Yi-Hun-Shen-Zhi-Po is flourishing we see a great mix between multiple aspects from different grounds in life; especially we find social aspects coloring this process (strongly). Conflict perception differs from person to person due to its inner complexity, and makes the common ground of conflict understanding difficult to find. In many cases we better speak about personal conflict understanding instead of common conflict understanding. A person can feel a conflict, but does not really understand his own conflict. Others can observe a conflict, but does not really understand anything of it. In times of conflict Jingdao is more active than normal; making some mental short cuts where it might be found some sense inside the conflict. Chinese psychology is often concerned with the mental aspect of Yi when speaking about information flow, or more correctly absorbing external information. Sometimes Yi is hypersensitive, Yi absorb more information than normal and the result is an information overflow. Other times Yi is not sufficient sensitive and important information are overseen. Both a hypersensitive and a hyposensitive state in Yi will enable situations in Shen that might disturb the correct decision process; making an imbalance in Yi one of the main causes for Jingdao.

The creation of Jing dao

The cognition of Shen cannot be trusted when Yi does not provide the correct information in quantity or quality; errors will be made. This is errors that will program future decisions. Vicious circles of decisions might start; more correctly WILL start. This mean if Shen receive wrong information from Yi, then this information might work as a type of pathogen psychic qi from Yi. This pathogen qi from Yi will intoxicate Shen and create a pathogen Shen; the result will be Jingdao.


A felt – or a real conflict is often connected to different types of social disagreement and – conflict of interests. As a result we can see Ben (the root) of conflicts rice to different intensities between persons and groups. It is also possible that a conflict only live inside a single person (the others do not know) or that a conflictive tough lives on in a single person long after the others have processed and finished the conflict. 冲突 Chong tu is the Chinese  concept of conflict. Chong tu is a situation that occurs when yin and yang in a person is not in balance. The balance or harmony will only be present when Shen have got the correct inputs from Yi. Unfortunately 和 He, harmony, depend on so many factors that we rarely accomplish it; if we ever accomplish(!). Chong tu will occur when an intolerable imbalance have developed; the core reason are the lack of He (harmony) of different reasons. The origin of problems with He might be many, but often we find Ben in Yi or Shen.

Chong tu


When focusing on correcting an imbalance to He, we need to start with the individual that have problems; search for Ben (the root) in Yi and Shen. Of course, the origin of the problem should be addressed as the main focus, but often we can not find it; unfortunately. Making us start to focus on a correct perception of thoughts or 思维 Si wei. To manage this you need to be true to yourself and your senses, and be open for accepting your mistakes based on errors caused by for example Yi. Your Si wei (thoughts) can bring you out of trouble as well as bringing you into trouble; creating a Chong tu (conflict). We need to obtain He (harmony) through balancing Yin and Yang in the body and regulating Yi; a process that involves an intrinsic focus on constructive Si wei (thoughts). Yi produced Chong tu (conflicts) will always be there waiting for you to step wrong; you need to identify them! The faster you identify your Yi produced Chong tu that causes you to step wrong on your Jingdao (narrow path), the faster you will get cured. You need to make your Shen aware of your mistake on your Jingdao and fast re-adjust fast to obtain He. Remember everything starts with a wrong perception of something; a Jingdao. Then Chongtu develops and you suffer. The longer you last before resolving the problem, the deeper penetrates the roots of Chongtu.


The cognitive process is operating close to the category dilemma or 困局 Kùnjú as used within Chinese psychology. The actual word dilemma is Greece (δί-λημμα). The meaning is “double propositions”. Kunju is Chinese and mean difficult situation, difficult circumstances or a surrounding office. The word dilemma is used to describe problems that have two or more unclosed solutions that none of them is really an acceptable solution. A+B=C, but you want D. Within Chinese psychology we find Kunju (dilemma) as a type of Chong tu (conflict) that is a result of a problem in the mental aspect of Hun. If a person has a conflict going, a Chung tu, that really is a dilemma of selecting between pest and cholera. No matter what the person select, the outcome will never be perfect. The logical way to handle this problem is to rethink solutions. Indicating Shen has to send the plans back to Hun for further processing and adjustment; possible with more information from Zhi. To understand this we again need our classical mental model. This process will or has to continue until Shen accepts the solution. Depending on the dilemma it might continue for weeks.


A dilemma based cognitive process will occupy a lot of space in the mind. The mental process in itself might transform to a stressor for the person. The only solution to eliminate this unnecessary cognition is to find a solution to the dilemma. Chinese psychology proposes two direct solutions. One is the safety mechanism of Hun mirroring itself in Po; in fact transforming the mental activity to a physical symptom like neck tension, hypertension or loose stools.


The other solution is to trust the irrational short cuts of the brain. These irrational short cuts are within Chinese psychology named 幻想 huànxiǎng or fantasy or illusion plan. Often when given the correct word or “set of information” our mind will think it knows how to connect the information based on previous experience. Given that this is the first time or a very difficult problem – a mental dilemma appears when it does not exist previous information about how to solve it. Here we will experience the fantastic associative method of the mind; the subconscious mind will connect information and create a NEW reality by itself. In fact a real fantasy world, made up of random connected thoughts, a good portion of imagination and creativity. A constructed reality that is a more invented than factual. Meaning most of your decision making will be based on this mind guessing; not on facts. You will be 100% sure that you have made the correct decision; in your fantasy world – your mind is fooling you. You have just connected information to make a mosaic of an imagined reality. Huanxiang (fantasy) is a commonly way to find solutions to problems, but it does not always reflect the reality.


A person who sings nice is not necessary also intelligent, just as a woman with big breasts is not necessary a better woman, or a rich person a better friend, but your mind might connect like this. Buying a expensive car does not make you a better person. Your brain makes connections based on generalization of small stored facts; 广 Guǎng. Most common is the tricks to place a famous person next to an expensive product for sale. Your brain do short cuts and subconsciously you think that the product equals the famous one and the positive aspects of the person now also lives on in the product. Subconsciously you believe 100% that you become Brad Pitt when you use the same socks (or whatever) as him. You are a victim of Guangyi; generalization. A sexy woman placed next to a nice car, equals mentally for a man, the owner of this car will attract this kind of women; perhaps he will.

In a world filled with a information pressure bigger than ever creating more stress on Yi than ever before. Increasing the chance for hyper and hypo functioning and thereby an intoxication of Shen with wrong information. Then we see the chance for stepping out of Jingdao and the creation of Chongtu. As a primary defense, we find the mind come up with on defense called Huanxiang; creating alternative realities. Sometimes we simply name Huanxiang as Jingdao. To solve this we need to treat the origin; information and Yi. We can not do much with the information, but we might do something with Yi. The common way are to regulate Yi. You might do this in many ways, but the most common way are through circulating the psychic qi. For that our first selection should be The Window to Heaven Points (WHP). If a Jingdao the common recipe are Renying (Stomach 9, ST-9), Tian chuang (Small intestine 16, SI-16) and Tian fu (Lung 3, LU-3). Beside this Jingdao point combination you should use the movement point of Yi Yi she (Urinary bladder 49, UB-49). It is favorable to use moxa on the point. Beside acupuncture, never forget to speak to the patient and help him in clearing up in the problem related to malfunctioning Yi.






The writer of this article gives seminars in Chinese medicine and Chinese psychology all over the world! Go to this page to find out how.


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