With respect to the formal problems that human biological systems experiment according to their adaptive processes, Bateson distinguishes primarily the problem of ‘reification’. This problem involves the cosification of the content that the premises of habit formally mean in the experience that the human biological systems experiment. Thus, reification makes of a system of formal relations an object or a thing, ie, it makes of such formal system susceptible to be reported as part of a determined experience. This means that human biological systems, being embedded in a system of a larger dimension and complexity, ie, being immersed in the constant adaptation to an environmental system, and above all, as they hold interactive relations that allow a particular communication between them: they tend to ‘reify’ the formal content of the premises they have learned differentially in their experience. Under the terms of the communication and learning that human biological systems experience in their interactions, the tendency to reify produces what Bateson calls ‘genres of transcontextual syndromes’: these genres do not only involve a blockade of the differential circuit that opens to the adaptive changes, but also respond to the inability that the human biological system has to solve logically and specifically some particular kind of problems. This cybernectic inability implies a disruption of the differential plot of the circuit, which is to say that means a specific inability of contextual adaptation. This inability leads to the anxiety, frustration and the bewilderment that the human biological system tends to suffer towards the formal demand that means the social environment in which it lives. But how these rare genres of transcontextual syndromes are produced? While they refer to the problems of social interaction, the particular kind of propositions which Bateson considers a priority for the generic production of transcontextual syndromes, are the formal relations that describe and determine the intercommunication that human biological systems effectuate: these interpersonal relations may be deductible only by their abstractions, which means that the intercommunicative exchanges are immanent to them. However, human biological systems tend to consider such abstractions as real things that can be described or expressed volitionally in the messages that they habitually exchange. This means that human biological systems consider that the messages they express are those which constitute the formal relationship that determines the exchange. This formal interference means that the immanent pattern to the differential combination of the messages ―which human biological systems exchange―, ends up being a verbally encoded description.
Moreover, this coding does not only imply a typology of communicative exchanges, ie, a typology that is directly related to the volition that human biological systems describe or express in their messages, but it also makes the problem of reification to formally persist in the interactions these systems perform. This persistence significantly increases the generic production of transcontextual syndromes. Just as all biological systems are able to solve particular problems forming habits applicable to the solution of the various kinds of problems they face, human biological systems, while they are systems that are volitional, are also capable of forming habits applicable to the production of generic transcontextual syndromes. Thus, the genres of transcontextual syndromes generally manifest in the social interactions experienced by the human biological systems, and its production is an inherent part of the existence of such systems. While volition is considered as part of the generic production of these syndromes, the conceptual importance of the double-bind theory is that it is concerned with the experiential component that implicates the genesis of the ‘mess’ on the premises of the habit. This mess is directly related to volitional action, and it is referred to the habit that the human biological systems have to make their social interactions degenerate because of the generic production of transcontextual syndromes. This mess is a formal mess, either of the premises of the habit and of its relations: it appears in the communicative exchange as a series of contradictory linkages that configure a contradictive logic actively expressed in the habit. In Bateson’s approach, habits are rigid: its stiffness is experienced in the social interaction as deduced propositions per se. However, these propositions are necessary in the hierarchy of adaptive changes. In this sense, the regulatory processes of trial and error are achieved through the formation of habits: they are possible because habits are anchored to a tough programmation that makes their premises go unnoticed. Given that these premises are part of the experience that involves the adaptive change, the economy of trial and error does not reexamine or rediscover them each time the biological system performs them in its interactions. For the human biological system, the rules or premises of the habit are partially unconscious because such system developed them under the assumption of not questioning their formal validity, ie, incorporating them as part of the system by the habit of not examining them.
Just as the premises of the habit are not reexaminated and therefore susceptible to pass unnoticed in its incorporation, and while its stiffness implicates a formal relation or a hard program that makes meaningful the lived-experience of the adaptative processes that human biological systems experiment, in the same sense: within the generic production of transcontextual syndromes it is not questionable the formal validity of the component that generates the “mess” of its premises. This means that the volitional action not just opposes to the content of the logical premises of the habit, but also to the immanence of the formal relationships that determine their differences. But what is the role of volition with respect to the actions performed by human biological systems? In Bateson’s approach, the human communication observed from the theory of systems bases an ecology of mind. This ecology contemplates that the actions are not but in the manner of the sequence of the events which carry them out. This means that actions do not exist as the reification that human biological systems make of them in their intercommunications. Volition exists then as a kind of reification of the self: it can be understood as a misleading parallelism in the time of the effectuated action, because under the logic of systems, the question is not about who makes the action, nor about which part of the individual body makes it or is capable of doing it. The supposed localization or limits of the self implicate a transcontextual syndrome that degenerates the formal relation that the individual has with its environment. This localization of the ‘I’ expresses a confusion of logical type: equivalent to a mess of premises that tend to degenerate the perception that the individual has of himself. Of course, that localization is equivalent to interrupt the flow of information passing through the circuit of differences, which means that volition involves an active amputation of the cybernetic circuit that constitutes the self. Volition is a formal element of self-conscience, however, also tends to cancel the rest of the formal relations that the body ―of the human biological system― constructs differentially from the things in the world. In other words, volition is a formal element that serves to ignore the logic of the dispositional world that the body knits in relational terms. This means that the will does not help the person to think of itself as a biological system embedded in an environmental system whose dimension and complexity outgrows it. By canceling the possibility of conceiving itself as a biological system related to an immanent network of causal pathways ―capable of transmitting bits of information and difference―, volition not only blocks its differential circuit, but also overloads the differences that the contents of the premises engage with their own premises. The closure of the differential circuit provides a feedback that reaffirms the volition: it makes characteristic a systematic denial referred to the resolution of specific and determined kinds of problems, and forms an overstructured set of habits that are adjusted directly to the volitional action.