Redefining Psychology in the Light of Quantum Physics
A Personal Perspective: Revolutionizing our understanding of consciousness.
Updated July 7, 2023
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Quantum physics, arguably our most sophisticated scientific method for understanding the universe, has been consistently challenging the traditional boundaries of various disciplines, including psychology. As quantum physics explores the perplexing realm of consciousness, it raises profound questions. Could physics and psychology become entwined in their quest to comprehend consciousness?
Three Pillars of Quantum Physics
To grasp the scope of this question, we should first examine three generally accepted principles of quantum physics. When taken together, I argue that these principles suggest a revolutionary perspective: everything in the universe is composed of a singular, unified consciousness.
The first principle states that the collapse of an object's wave function requires a conscious observer. Secondly, quantum physics contends that the universe is interconnected in its entirety and instantaneously, leaving no room for separateness. Lastly, it posits that our reality is observer dependent.
The Conscious Observer and Wave Function Collapse
In the quantum world, particles exist in a state of superposition, embodying all possible states simultaneously before being observed. This probabilistic state is termed a "wave function." The process of observing these virtual particles causes the wave function to "collapse," forcing the particle to settle into one state instantaneously, thereby becoming non-virtual and “real.”
This quantum phenomenon implies that everything in our universe, before being consciously observed, is a wave function teetering on the edge of possibility. Our universe, right from its inception during the Big Bang, has relied on conscious observation for its very existence. Martin Rees, an acclaimed Cambridge University professor and England’s Astronomer Royal, encapsulates the role of conscious observation in the creation of the universe. He posits: "In the beginning, there were only probabilities. The universe could only come into existence if someone observed it... The universe exists because we are aware of it.”
An Analogy: Life Is But a Dream
This quantum concept of conscious observation and wave function collapse may seem esoteric. However, by examining what occurs during a dream, which traditionally is within the domain of psychology, we arrive at an analogy that helps us make sense of this quantum weirdness.
Imagine yourself dreaming, relishing a scoop of creamy chocolate ice cream in your local Baskin-Robbins. In this dream, your avatar, though a representation of you, is contingent upon the real you—the observer or the subject. When you stop observing your dream avatar, perhaps by waking up, both the dream avatar and the ice cream disappear, returning to a state akin to a virtual wave function.
Drawing a parallel to Professor Rees's statement about the Big Bang, we could assert, “The dream exists because we are aware of it.” This analogy is also echoed in the Upanishads, ancient sacred texts offering profound philosophical insights: "We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is true for the entire universe. That is why it is said, 'Having created the creation, the Creator entered into it.'"
The Upanishads suggest that the Creator, acting as the ultimate observer, triggers the collapse of the universe's wave function.
The Universe: A Single Conscious Entity
Quantum entanglement, a repeatedly verified quantum physics phenomenon, proposes an instant linkage between all entities in the universe. This pervasive interconnectedness makes sense with the notion that our universe is composed of a unified singular consciousness, making the apparent separateness an illusion.
Quantum physics has been struggling with the philosophical ramification of this lack of separateness, or non-duality, from its very beginning. Erwin Schrödinger, back in 1944 in his book, What is Life? With Mind and Matter wrote “subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down... for this barrier does not exist.”
In 1979, in an article in Scientific American, noted French theoretical physicist Bernard d’Espagnat stated that “the doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment.” This sentiment was later echoed by physicists Rosenblum and Kuttner in their book Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness (2011), asserting that “quantum theory tells us that the reality of the physical world depends somehow on our observation of it.”