A summary of this article by physicist Fred Alan Wolf in Integrative Psychiatry provided by Alfred M. Freedman, M.D.
“Albert Einstein once observed that “The splitting of the atom has changed everything except our way of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe. … We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.” That phrase “a new manner of thinking” comes to mind in considering the future development of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences.
Needless to say, mankind’s survival is not contingent upon arriving at better models of normal and abnormal human behavior, but it is true that we have need for a new manner of thinking for developing models that will go beyond the dichotomies that currently inhibit progress. As pointed out in this column previously, “One must recognize that all the factors—biologic, psychologic, sociologic—are inextricably bound together in a system in which all act upon each other and thus are both products of, and inputs into, the system.”
Where should one turn for a new manner of thinking? George Engel has suggested looking at the progress in physics, not following it slavishly but utilizing the concepts of Einstein’s theory of relativity, Heisenberg’s theory of uncertainty, and Planck’s quantum mechanics to comprehend new ways of thinking of behavior.
In this issue, Fred Alan Wolf utilizes concepts of quantum physics to understand consciousness. In an article entitled “The Quantum Physics of Consciousness: Towards a New Psychology,” Wolf presents many provocative ideas that deserve careful reflection. As Richard Restak observes in his commentary, “The process of observation modifies present reality, our past interpretations, and our future prospects along lines which would not occur absent our efforts.” The very act of observation has an effect on the physical structure of the brain, social behavior and psychology, including memory. Thus, we see an interpenetration of the variables of the biopsychosocial model, so they are interwoven and inseparable. Wolf presents a new manner of thinking that commands attention.”
The original article can be found here: The Quantum Physics of Consciousness