[In 2016, Dr Gerald Gargiulo, a distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Psychoanalysis at the Parkmore Institute, published his path-breaking book on ‘Quantum Psychoanalysis.’ In these reflections, he offers us some of the interesting background to his thinking. The book is published by International Psychoanalytic Books, and may be purchased through major bookstores as well as Amazon, etc.]
Some Personal Reflections on the Writing of
Quantum Psychoanalysis: Essays on Physics, Mind, and Analysis
(International Psychoanalytic Books, 2016).
I had been troubled for many years by the accepted accusation that therapy in general and psychoanalysis in particular were not, in any way scientific, but simply humanistic enterprises. I had no trouble conceptualizing psychoanalysis as humanistic experience but always felt that it was more than that, that it also had a scientific ground space. But not, however, the standard Newtonian model of what constitutes scientific i.e., neutral observers and repeatable results. Each of the quantum chapters in the text reflect my growing knowledge of and application of quantum findings and my conviction that using quantum models, rather than Newtonian models, offers a scientific framework by which to appreciate psychoanalysis. In this pursuit I have been influenced by many authors such as Mara Bella, Gary Zukav, Niels Bohn, Werner Heisenberg and Brian Greene. Their contributions, among others, are evident throughout the text.
The text reflects my search for understanding which became both an intellectual and a personal quest for me. The extensive number of quantum physicists who have written popular explanations were not only enlightening but also, inspiring. The text does not demand any background in physics – no mathematics are used to establish proofs – rather, it summarizes the findings of noted physicists and relates such findings to some primary therapy experiences.
The first six chapters of Essays on Physics, Mind and Analysis Today reflect my understanding of basic quantum findings and my application of such understanding to psychoanalytic therapy. I was more than fortunate in finding a generous and gracious noted physicist – Dr Barry Barish – a Noble Prize winner – to read each of my articles; I needed a physicist to monitor my summaries and my conclusions. The text discusses the de facto singularity of therapeutic observation; it explores the consequences of understanding such concepts as the unconscious; it also explores some of the consequences of working within a framework of high probability rather than strict determinism. Freud spoke of free association not really being free; he believed they were determined. Actually he had it right the first time. God does play dice with the world – contra Einstein’s convictions – and people play dice with their memories and with their associations. The text also discusses some of the implications that follow from some of the odd findings of John Wheeler, of Princeton University, in reference to our everyday experience of cause and effect.
The de facto personal quality of therapy is not, in itself, a deterrent to appreciating its scientific framework. Quantum models of observation – which are necessarily unique share a similar singularity. and so, by way of analogy, I have suggested a line of thinking which can broaden psychoanalytic self-understanding when seen within a quantum framework.. For example, how an individual measurement is set up effects its unique findings. Findings which are not exactly repeatable. Such a process is readily applicable to clinical experience.
Other essays address such issues as an understanding of mind and what it means to experience “meaning”, similarly, how to best understand what “ I ” signifies is included. Psychoanalysis has a long history – it is a history of storytelling – the story telling of therapy takes on a new color, so to speak, when determinism is not primary, when memory is always having a dialogue with the present, when cause and effect, are not absolute and when the primacy of the present is fully appreciated. The most basic question as to what is consciousness has been addressed in the writings of some of the most noted physicists and mathematicians; such an exploration, which is also addressed in the text, is the type of question that helps, I believe, in locating our place in the world.
Finally, the text contains reflections addressing where psychoanalysis is today – as least in the United States. Many of the chapters in the text were previously published in The Psychoanalytic Review; those that were included in this collection gave me the opportunity to revisit and in some cases to edit and clarify.
For any intellectual discipline to continue to grow, there has to be a willingness to explore alternate areas of understanding. I am hopeful that this modest contribution of essays might stimulate others to explore quantum thought as a way of deepening their understanding of the world, of therapy and of themselves.