Extending the

NVC Wheel of Knowing

with Plotkin’s Wild Mind

Jaime L. Prieto, Jr.

· NVC,Wild Heart,Carl Jung


Previously, I described a “Wheel of Knowing” that fuses together Jung’s Cognitive Functions with Nonviolent Communication (NVC).

This fusion is mutually beneficial for both communities of practice – the Jung-derived methodologies and practices highlight areas of potential growth for NVC practitioners, and the resulting model benefits Jung-derived methodologies by providing an NVC-based practical relational model.


This current essay extends the previously defined Wheel of Knowing by adding ideas from Bill Plotkin’s Wild Mind. Wild Mind provides depth and structure to the Wheel of Knowing, by adding the following elements:

  • a 7-directional nature-based model (the four cardinal directions, and the upper, middle, and lower worlds)
  • archetypes of wholeness
  • archetype-influenced qualifiers to each window of knowing
  • subpersonalities and fragments associated with each direction


Nature and the Human Soul and NVC

I first realized there was a similarity between Plotkin’s work and NVC back in July 2012, as I was reading Nature and the Human Soul (NATHS) by Bill Plotkin, Ph.D. I was surprised to discover a chapter called “Processing Emotions,” which seemed to generally follow NVC with several extensions.

In his treatment of feelings/emotions, he focuses on “full psychological and bodily experience of the emotion,” extending the NVC Feeling to include embodiment. Plotkin lays out these steps:

“Let the emotion have its way with your body. How does your body want to move?”

“It often helps to name the emotion: begin with the Explorer’s basic set of emotion categories (mad, bad, sad, glad and scared) and elaborate it into something like: anger, hurt, guilt, shame, sadness, happiness, joy, fear, envy, jealousy, despair, and love.”


After considering the feelings/emotions, Plotkin has an “Insight” step, which is similar to identifying the NVC Need:

“Now ask about the meanings and significance of the emotion. This is the West step in which you become fully introspective. Begin with this: What is your current emotion about?”

“Look for your values revealed by this emotion, as well as your desires, limitations, needs, hopes, …”

“In regard to the situation that engendered this emotion, what do you most deeply want?”


In similar fashion to the NVC Request, Plotkin follows it up with an “Action”:

“Now you’re ready to act on what you learned in the West. This North step is essential because the emotional cycle is incomplete until you’ve acted on your feelings. Given what you’ve learned about yourself in the previous step, what can you do to align your social world with your emotional world?”


Wild Mind and NVC

Many years later, circa 2019, as I was embarking into my guiding apprenticeship in Wild Mind, I discovered a similar chapter in the Coda section “Beyond Here Be Dragons” of Wild Mind, titled THE SELF AS A TURNING WHEEL. Here, Plotkin lists a similar process as in NATHS, except that in the Coda he focuses on the archetypal nature of the Wild Mind model:

“The four facets of the Self work together, hand in hand. Sometimes they’re all equally activated, fully participating together in the same moment. At other times, or in another sense, each facet offers the results of its perspective to the next — in a sunwise (clockwise) progression.”

Then he proceeds to describe how the associated archetypes corresponding to the Wheel of Knowing defined previously in the Fusion blog post (which I’ve mapped to the NVC components: Observations, Feelings, Needs and Requests).

Wild Mind’s contributions to the Wheel of Knowing will be covered in more depth in future blog posts.


Conversation with Bill Plotkin

In October 2022, I traveled to Cortez, Colorado for NATHS training. After an outdoor dinner under a crescent waxing moon, I had the opportunity to talk to Bill Plotkin about the origin of feelings. At first, he seemed startled by my question. I explained in a bit more detail that once you have an emotion/feeling, do you have a process for finding the reason behind the feeling? Plotkin referenced the same section of NATHS that I mentioned above. “Yes, we have a process for determining what stimulates feelings. We ask about the significance of the feeling– what is it about?”

I replied: “In my practice of NVC, the answer to that question is what we call universal human needs – feelings are caused by the level of fulfillment of needs.” He agreed that we were talking about the same thing in referencing the significance of the feeling.

I am grateful to both Bill Plotkin and Marshall Rosenberg for their unique interpretations of the human experience. The remainder of this thread is about the integration of these two practices.


Outline of Future Essays for Adding Wild Mind Elements to the Wheel of Knowing

Bill Plotkin’s Wild Mind adds richness,depth, and structure to the Wheel of Knowing. The following essays are envisioned for future exploration:

  • Mapping the NVC Components to a nature-based seven directional model of Wild Mind
  • Four archetype-influenced qualifiers to each Windows of Knowing
  • Four archetypes of wholeness
  • Four archetypal categories of subpersonalities, fragments of the Self to support self-healing

Endnotes and References

  1. Bill Plotkin, Wild Mind – Field Guide to the Human Psyche, New World Library, Novato, California, 2013
  2. Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul, New World Library, Novato, California, 2008, pp. 188 - 190
  3. The West is the direction of dusk, the time between day and night, a time of mystery and magic, the step where Plotkin’s invites the “Insight” step corresponding to the NVC Need.
  4. The North is the direction of midnight, when it’s darkest outside, the elders are caring for the village, the step where Plotkin invites the “Action” step corresponding to the NVC Request.
  5. Information on the Animas Valley Wild Mind Training Program is available here https://www.animas.org/training/wild-mind-training-brochure/ 
  6. Plotkin, Bill. Wild Mind: A Field Guide to the Human Psyche (p. 239). New World Library. Kindle Edition.


Special thanks to Ember Lichtenberg for her keen editing help and insight.