Thinking that Gravesian existential problems = difficulties is also a common confusion. Instead of troubles, think ‘problems’ in the sense of mathematical problems to solve; life equations to resolve in achieving a balanced state. This is what draws our attention and consumes our energy. Like Maslow’s needs, problems of existence are those things in our lives to which attention must be paid. Both what they are and how they express vary from level to level along the spiral.
‘Problems of existence’ is the term Graves to Helix 1; we also refer to this as life conditions – LCs. The other helix is MCs (mind capacities, neurobiological equipment, coping means). As the double-helix elements – LCs and MCs – interact, behaviors start to take shape: “If the world is thus, then appropriate behavior is so.” These problems can be positive or negative; they simply must be consequential. Different individuals and collectives will perceive and deal with them in ways congruent with their worldview and its particular expression of one or more levels. One person’s cause for joy is another’s sorrow. The emergence of new existential problems introduces new factors and variables into the formula of living. In this sense, problems are growth-producing; they are not necessarily negative. But if old problems return, regression to previous spiral levels is also a possibility.