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Complex Systems and Human Behavior

Christopher G. Hudson

Publication Date - July 2010

ISBN: 9780190615772

720 pages
6 x 9 inches


What shapes human behavior? Christopher Hudson approaches this conundrum with an outstanding grasp of the theoretical underpinnings of the human services. In this penetrating new book, Hudson guides us through the common roots of social work and psychology with authority and lucidity to revisit the richness of human experience.

Particularly notable for its integrative style, the book offers a comprehensive overview of the many theories that underlie contemporary social work practice, all carefully interpreted through the lens of complex systems theory. Hudson evaluates concepts like deep ecology, chaos theory, consciousness, diversity, and spirituality with clarity and enthusiasm, placing them in historical and theoretical contexts. His incisive review of the work of major thinkers from Comte, Freud, and James, through Vygotsky, Baars, and Varela, will help bring his readers to a more complex view of the human condition.

An excellent book for all human services practitioners as well as advanced students of human behavior, Complex Systems and Human Behavior is a comprehensive introduction to complex systems theory and a necessary resource for all who seek a greater understanding of the evolution and foundation of their craft.


  • Improved understanding of change over time in both small and large systems
  • Offers an overview of general human behavior theories and in-depth coverage of more modern methods and frameworks
  • Includes introductory chapter outlines and end-of-chapter summaries to highlight important themes
  • Provides an extensive glossary of key terms and concepts

About the Author(s)

Christopher G. Hudson (PhD, University of Illinois, Chicago; AM, AB,University of Chicago) is professor in the MSW program at Salem State College in Salem, MA. He has regularly taught in MSW programs and published extensively in professional journals on human behavior and mental health policy issues, including developments in complex systems and chaos theories. His books include Dimensions of State Mental Health Policy (Praeger, 1991) and An Interdependency Model of Homelessness (Mellon, 1998). Has received numerous awards, including Researcher of the Year (awarded by the Massachusetts Alliance for the Mentally Ill), and a faculty Fulbright fellowship.

Table of Contents

    Foreword by Thomas Meenaghan
    A Note to Readers
    Part I. The Framework
    Chapter 1. The Assessment of Complex Adaptive Systems
    Chapter 2. The Roots of Social and Personal Change: Self-Organization, Natural Selection, and Entropy
    Chapter 3. Understanding in Action: The Role of Theory in the Human Services
    Part II. The Person
    Chapter 4. Recent Developments in the Study of Consciousness
    Chapter 5. Maturation, Learning, and Personal Development through the Life Cycle
    Chapter 6. Motivation and Personality: Conflict, Consistency, and Fulfillment Models
    Chapter 7. Problem Solving, Decision Making, and Creativity
    Chapter 8. Theories of Mental Dysfunction
    Part III. The Systemic Context
    Chapter 9. Small Groups and Their Processes
    Chapter 10. Families as Complex Systems
    Chapter 11. The Dynamics of Organizations
    Chapter 12. Community Theory, Dynamics, and Assessment
    Part IV. Applications
    Chapter 13. Diversity: Problems, Challenges, Opportunities
    Chapter 14. Helping Relationships and Advanced Generalist Practice in Complex Systems
    Chapter 15. Values, Ethics, and Spirituality in the Human Services
    Appendix: Quantum Approaches to Consciousness
    Name Index
    Subject Index