Quantum Physics – The Implications for Personal Wellbeing
Quantum physics (also called quantum mechanics) is an evolution of the physics a lot of us studied in school. It’s been around for a few centuries, and was most notably first concretely theorised about by Max Planck in the early 20th century. And yet, it’s still a novelty – even an unknown – to most of us. It may not seem very important for therapists, but it turns out that quantum theory may actually apply to our bodies and minds in an exciting, perhaps unexpected way.
In his bestselling book, Why Quantum Physicists Don’t Get Fat, physicist Greg Kuhn outlines the four main principles of quantum physics. It is the most helpful basic explanation I’ve ever come across:
- All matter is made up of organic, or unified wholes that are often greater than the sum of their parts
- There is not necessarily a relationship between cause and effect. Action is not always caused by another force exerting itself.
- The observer and the observed cannot be separated. The observer’s observations and expectations, literally, become part of what is being observed. In fact the observer and the observed may be said to be two different perspectives of the same thing.
- Systems are not linear, systems are equations whose effects are not proportional to their causes. There is a lack of logical sequence, correlation or cohesion found in the universe where we once thought that everything was neatly and logically ordered.
As the study of quantum physics has evolved, many people have wondered if mental and emotional energy could have an impact on a person’s physical being - of course we know it can. Fortunately, there are countless scientific and medical studies that have shown that positive activities like meditation, laughter, and spending time with friends and loved ones can have positive effects on the body.
Research has also shown that positive thoughts, whether focussed on a specific issue or in general, can do impressive things, like reduce recovery time from surgery or illnesses, help in dealing with chronic pain, and boost the immune system. For example, a recent article on the Johns Hopkins Medicine website cites a study that found people with a positive outlook were less likely to suffer cardiovascular issues early in life, even if these conditions ran in their family.
For many quantum physicists, it’s a question of what we could accomplish if we focused our energy a certain way. A number of them, including Nobel Prize winner Niels Bohr, believe(d) that reality itself might be based simply on what each of us believes is there. In one famous scene in the film ‘The Matrix’, protagonist Neo bends a spoon with his thoughts. This actually could be something we might ultimately be able to accomplish if we were to give up the notion of a concrete physical reality. But what interests me even more is what we could do for our own health, and that of our patients. What if you could repair a fractured bone or disintegrate a tumor, simply by realizing that, at the atomic level, these things are made up of clusters of energy? What if you could help put someone’s body or mind at ease, with the same principles?
It’s not an easy concept to really wrap one’s mind around, and certainly the way most of us currently experience reality doesn’t help. And if you’re feeling bad about not being a revolutionary thinker, don’t: Even Albert Einstein found it hard to believe that physical reality was purely objective.
Still, there is some traditional scientific research that backs it up. One particularly interesting example was featured in The New England Journal of Medicine. Called A Controlled Trial of Arthroscopic Surgery for Osteoarthritis of the Knee, it concludes that a group of people who were not given knee surgery, but were told they were, recovered at the same rate and experienced the same amount of pain as two other groups who’d actually undergone procedures.
This study is especially interesting to me because it has to do with something most of us are already very familiar with: The Placebo Effect. That is, by thinking we’ll be cured, we convince ourselves that we are. In a 2014 article, journalist Arjun Walia makes the connection: In effectively telling our body or mind that it is healed, we’re unconsciously applying the principles of quantum physics.
And what if it could also work in other ways? Imagine if a client were to come in for treatment, and we support and guide them so that they are able to focus their energy and help them heal - and I mean literally? For mental issues and psychosomatic ones, if we could re-route the neural paths and synopses, or change the chemicals and signals the clients brain is producing, in order to change their condition?
As psychotherapists, counsellors, nlp practitioners and hypnotherapists, I think it may be easier for us to understand the mind’s influence over the body. I wonder if someday quantum physics will be a part of our training in a more measureable way? I don’t, of course, mean doing dry, academic calculations, but teaching the new generation to reflect and think differently about how a client is suffering, and how that pain and suffering can be altered.
We have a ways to go perhaps, before quantum physics becomes accepted in our field more tangibly, let alone when it will affect how all of us envision our everyday lives. But at the very least, these ideas can encourage us to focus on the kinds of positive thinking, that will allow us to be more creative in our work and lives.