Counselling & Personal Development

" of the most innovative and effective counselling services available
and a wealth of resources for your own reading and personal development...."


Once individual differences are not only allowed, but encouraged to surface, the group moves to the second stage of community, chaos. The chaos always centres around well-intentioned but misguided attempts to heal and convert.

We tend to resist change. So healers try harder to heal and converters try hard to convert, until their victims get their backs up and start trying to heal the healers and convert the converters. It is indeed chaos.

Chaos is not just a state. It is an essential stage in the process of community building. Unlike pseudocommunity, it will not simply go away once the group becomes aware of it. Unlike pseudocommunity, differences are right out in the open. Only now, instead of trying to ignore them, the group is trying to obliterate them. Underlying the attempts to heal and convert is not so much the motive of love, as the motive to make everyone "normal" and the motive to win. Members fight over whose norm should prevail.

Fighting and struggle is not unique to the stage of chaos. The struggle during chaos is chaotic. It is noisy, uncreative and destructive. It is ineffective and boring, just as boring as pseudocommunity after a while, as members continue to score points off each other. The predominant feeling of any observer would be one of despair. The struggle is going nowhere, Nothing is being accomplished. There is no sense of fun.

Sometimes, fully developed communities will be required to fight and struggle, but they will have learned to do so effectively. Disagreement that arises from time to time in a genuine community is loving and respectful and usually remarkably quiet, even peaceful, as members work hard to listen to each other. When it does become heated, it is lively and one has a sense of excitement over the consensus that will be hammered out. There is grace and rhythm. It can even be fun.

Chaos is unpleasant and it is common for members in this stage not only to attack each other, but also their leader. The chaos could easily be circumvented if they had an authoritarian leader, a dictator, who assigned them specific tasks and goals. The only problem is that a group lead by a dictator is not, and can never be, a community. Community and totalitarianism are incompatible.

In response to this perceived vacuum of leadership during the chaotic stage of community building, it is common for one or more of the members of the group to attempt to replace the designated leader. The problems of the emergence of "secondary leaders" is not their emergence but their proposed solutions. What they are proposing, one way or another, is nearly always an "escape into organisation". It is true that organisation is a solution to chaos. Indeed, that is the primary reason for chaos. The trouble is, however, that organisation and community are also incompatible. Committees and chairpeople do not make a community. This does not imply that a business, church or some other organisation cannot have some degree of organisation within itself. But an organisation is able to build community within itself only to the extent that it is willing to risk or tolerate a certain lack of structure. As long as the goal is community building, organisation as an attempted solution to chaos is an unworkable solution.

The duration of the chaotic stage of community building varies, depending on the nature of the leader and the nature of the group. Some groups will leave it behind almost as soon as the way out is pointed out to them. Even though chaos is unpleasant, other groups will resist its proper resolution for a number of painful hours.

The proper resolution of chaos is not easy. Because it is both unproductive and unpleasant, it may seem that the group has degenerated from pseudocommunity into chaos. But chaos is not necessarily the worst place for a group to be. Fighting is far better than pretending that you are not divided. It’s painful, but it’s a beginning. You are aware that you need to move beyond your warring factions and that is infinitely more hopeful than if you felt you didn’t need to move at all.