A Quantum Field Theory of Neuropsychotherapy:
Semantic Mind–Brain Maps and the Quantum Qualia of Consciousness
Ernest Lawrence Rossi and Kathryn Lane Rossi
Cite as: Rossi, E. L., & Rossi, K. L. (2016). A quantum field theory of neuropsychotherapy: Semantic mind-brain maps and the quantum qualia of consciousness. International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy, 4(1), 47–68. doi: 10.12744/ijnpt.2016.0047-0068
This paper proposes a new scientific integration of the classical and quantum fundamentals of neuropsychotherapy. The history, theory, research, and practice of neuropsychotherapy are reviewed and updated in light of the current STEM perspectives on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. New technology is introduced to motivate more systematic research comparing the bioelectronic amplitudes of varying states of human stress, relaxation, biofeedback, creativity, and meditation. Case studies of the neuropsychotherapy of attention span, consciousness, cognition, chirality, and dissociation along with the psychodynamics of therapeutic hypnosis and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are explored. Implications of neuropsychotheraputic research for investigating relationships between activity-dependent gene expression, brain plasticity, and the quantum qualia of consciousness and cognition are discussed. Symmetry in neuropsychotherapy is related to Noether’s theorem of nature’s conservation laws for a unified theory of physics, biology, and psychology on the quantum level. Neuropsychotheraputic theory, research, and practice is conceptualized as a common yardstick for integrating the fundamentals of physics, biology, and the psychology of consciousness, cognition, and behavior at the quantum level.
The Classical and Quantum Dynamics of Neuropsychotherapy
While the history of neuropsychotherapy can be traced back hundreds of years to prescientific sources of medicine, physics, chemistry, biology, and psychology, it required the advent of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in our century before a truly experimental theory, combined with the research and applications of neuropsychotherapy, could emerge (Boring, 1950; Ellenberger, 1970; Jensen, 2016; Zilboorg & Henry, 1941). As the name suggests, neuropsychotherapy is based on the integration of talk therapy, consciousness, and cognition, with activity taking place in neurons of the brain, as illustrated in Box 1.
Box 1 illustrates the classical well-known theory of the basic unit of neural action of the brain and body as it is presented in most textbooks of physics, biology, and psychology today. While this information is correct from the physics, biological, and chemical points of view, it does not provide many helpful cues of how it may be used psychotherapeutically. However, a paper in a recent issue of Nature by Huth, de Heer, Griffiths, Theunissen, and Gallant (2016) has introduced research on a new semantic atlas of the human cerebral cortex that illustrates how words could make sense as the bridge between mind, brain, and body in neuropsychotherapy, and how the meanings of words and language are represented in a semantic system distributed across much of the cerebral cortex. Huth and his colleagues set out to map the functional representations of semantic meaning in the human brain using voxel-based modelling of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) recordings made while subjects listened to natural narrative speech. They found that each semantic concept is represented in multiple semantic areas, and that each semantic area represents multiple semantic concepts. The recovered semantic maps are largely consistent across subjects, and these provide the basis for a semantic atlas that can be used for future studies of language processing. (Box 2)
As Huth et al. (2016) acknowledge, little is known about the detailed functional and anatomical organization of this semantic network. We therefore propose to provide a short history of the theory, research, and psychological practice of the utilization of this natural semantic mind–brain–body network by introducing what we choose to call a quantum field theory of neuropsychotherapy.
Box 1. The classical psychobiology of neuropsychotherapy. Adapted with permission from R. Nave, 2016, http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hframe.html, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Georgia State University, Atlanta.
Box 1. Details
A Quantum Field Theory of Neuropsychotherapy
A significant but still little-known source of our proposed quantum field theory of neuropsychotherapy was reviewed by Ravitz (2002) as follows:
The human body, then, is the product of an organizing field which, in common with all the other fields, is within and subject to the greater organizing fields of the Universe . . . We owe this epochal discovery to the genius of two Americans—Filmer Stuart Cuckow Northrop, Ph.D., LL.D. (1893–1992), and Harold Saxton Burr, Ph.D. (1889–1973). Dr. Northrop was to become Sterling Professor of Philosophy and Law at Yale University and Harold Saxton Burr, Professor of Anatomy in Yale University School of Medicine. . . . This was the first biological theory based on Einstein’s relativity field physics and Maxwell’s electromagnetic equations. . . An electrodynamic or electromagnetic field is a continuum of experimentally verifiable vector forces defined in terms of two parameters: magnitude or intensity, E, and direction or polarity, H… To demonstrate the presence of electrodynamic fields in living matter, therefore, the instruments had to be capable of measuring voltage gradients having both intensity and directional properties—that is, plus or minus polarity. (pp. 2–4)
I was privileged to be a pupil of Burr at Yale. Working at first with Burr and later alone, I was able to show that continuous readings make it possible to distinguish between healthy men and women and those suffering from psychologic disturbances. In 1948, I was also able to demonstrate that the depth of hypnosis can be measured by characteristic variations in the field. . . Despite the obvious importance of the electrodynamic theory of life, it would be as wrong to claim too much for it as too little. We must remember that in addition to field physics there is also particle physics.
Burr and Northrop emphasized from the onset that particles in biologic organization both determine and are oriented by the electrodynamic field. In other words, there is a reciprocal causal relationship between fields and particles.
How to relate them in inorganic, biologic, and psychologic science is one of today’s—and tomorrow’s—most important scientific and philosophical challenges. (p.8)
The field theory of hypnosis, proposed at the first annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis in Chicago on October 3, 1958 as one of the basic factors in hypnotic states, derives from experimental knowledge of various factors and states that do and do not produce EMF [electromagnetic force] variations. . . Such observations are reinforced by the frequent spontaneous clinical manifestation of trance states . . . involving this ancient brain core, further implicated by its potential control of physiologic survival functions via hypnosis—including the control of bleeding. . . Briefly, all evidence suggests that profound alterations occur in the balance of the ancient centers with respect to the neocortex during hypnosis, with intact, or frequently improved neocortical functioning. … (pp. 90–91)
Field monitoring of changing state function, including hypnotic states together with their many manifestations, confirmed by Bartlett, Blagg, Rossi, and Kost independently, has resulted in deductive considerations entailing the meshing of two radically disparate approaches: the Burr–Northrop field construct with its derivative instrumentation catalyzed by Maxwell and Gibbs, and a unified tripartite logic formalized mathematically by Fonseca in 1970. (pp. 90–91)
Furthermore, recent findings in wave mechanics and quantum theory at that time reduced chemical atoms to electrons and protons, implying that more fundamental electrodynamic factors underlie life. In short, atomic physics had to be supplemented with field physics. (p. 16)
The field theory demolishes any attempt to reduce field properties to chemistry and forces on those faithful to old concepts the shattering conclusion that the atoms and molecules of chemistry—in fact the entire concept of valence—reduce to electricity and, in this specific instance, to quantum fields. (p. 200)
These summary statements by Ravitz (2002) comprise the challenge explored in this paper that, with our more recent neuropsychotherapy data, provides a common yardstick for unifying the fundamentals of physics, biology, and the psychology of consciousness at the quantum level.
The Early Electrodynamic Quantum Field Theory
In the generations since the early electrodynamic quantum field theory was proposed by Northrop and Burr (Burr & Northrop, 1935), quantum field theory (QFT) has been repeatedly confirmed as the most accurate scientific foundation of mathematical physics (Klauber, 2015; Lancaster & Blundell, 2014) and, by extension, the fundamental dynamics of all life processes (Loewenstein, 1999, 2013; McFadden, 2008; McFadden & Al-Khalili, 2014). This emerging STEM perspective was the rationale for Ravitz’s initial professional training in hypnosis with Milton H. Erickson (1958), which Ravitz (2002) documented as follows:
Beginning in 1945, I was trained by Milton H. Erickson, M.D., the world’s foremost authority on hypnosis, at Wayne County General Hospital, Eloise, Michigan, in the most sophisticated, empirical techniques of hypnosis which Erickson (1958) was developing. Erickson’s elegant and imaginative experiments, using maverick procedures, were a great empirical advance in both hypnosis and psychiatry. … Field correlates of hypnosis first were presented in Science (1950), followed by the first atlas of hypnotic tracings published by Tracy J. Putnam, M.D., the editor of AMA Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry and Director of Services, Neurological Institute of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, in 1951. On August 28, 1959, a more sensitive cathode ray oscilloscope first was used to monitor hypnotic states in Burr’s Yale Medical School office. (pp. 54–55).
As far as is known, Ravitz’s “Electrometric Correlates of the Hypnotic State” (1950), was the first and only paper on hypnosis ever published in Science. It begins as follows:
Because of repeated failure to detect electrometric correlations with EEG from trance states, no completely objective criteria of hypnosis have yet been formulated beyond empiric observation. Using a Burr–Lane–Nims microvoltmeter, 60 standing potential records of 20 subjects were taken. Although results of spot determinations were sometimes equivocal, continuous EMF [electromagnetic force] tracings, using the combined microvoltmeter and General Electric photoelectric recorder at a speed of 1 in./min, with one electrode on the forehead and the other on the palm of either hand, seem to provide a reliable quantitative index of trance depth. During hypnosis, the EMF tracing becomes more regular, and potential difference either gradually increases or decreases in magnitude. At trance termination, there is usually a dramatic voltage shift, and the tracing eventually returns to that of the normal waking state. (Figure 1)
Whenever possible, induction was linked up with motor behavior, utilizing the technique developed by Milton H. Erickson (e.g., as his hand rose, a subject would become sleepier until, finally, when it touched his face, he would close his eyes and sleep, signifying he was ready by returning the hand to his lap). Catalepsy, when used to induce hypnosis, sometimes produced marked EMF changes. When this occurred during the trance, or when the subject voluntarily raised an arm, minimal changes were recorded. Depth of hypnosis, as measured electrometrically, does not seem to be correlated with ability to develop amnesia or other phenomena often necessary for a good therapeutic trance. Any disturbance of the hypnotic state could be detected immediately by changes in voltage and in configuration of the tracing. It is thus possible to measure objectively changes in depth of hypnosis. (pp. 341–2)
During the middle 1970s, about 25 years after Ravitz’s original paper was published, Erickson and Ravitz together mentored Ernest Rossi in the use of a paper strip-chart electronic recording device (Heath–Schlumberger Model SR-255B) for facilitating the induction and objective measurement of therapeutic hypnosis. Real patients were assessed (the researchers themselves and some members of Erickson’s family) during this informal learning and training period, which was later documented nostalgically by Ravitz (2002) with many photographs, figures, and tables of data. Rossi (Erickson & Rossi, 1981/2014) subsequently attempted to identify an electronic signature of Erickson’s naturalistic approach to hypnotic induction and therapy, which was outlined as a “two–factor theory of hypnotic experience” and described as follows:
The Electronic Monitoring of Catalepsy:
A Two-Factor Theory of Hypnotic Experience
While the pendulum of current scientific thought has swung to the opinion that no objective measures of hypnotic trance exists, there is a long scientific tradition of measuring catalepsy. As early as 1898, Sidis published remarkably clear and convincing sphygmograph–oscillometer records distinguishing normal awakeness from catalepsy (a quiescence state of mind and body) experienced during hypnosis. Ravitz 1962, 1973, 2002) published tracings of the body’s DC electrical activity, measured on high-impedance recorders (impedance is the effective resistance of an electrical circuit that makes such recordings possible), which underwent characteristic changes during the induction of catalepsy. Rossi utilized a high-impedance recorder (input impedances ranging from 10 to 1000 mega ohms with non-polarizing electrodes placed on the forehead and the palm of one hand) in his clinical practice as a convenient and convincing indicator of an objective bioelectronic alteration that takes place during therapeutic hypnosis. (Figure 2)
The erratic, fast activity at the beginning of the record (A) is characteristic of normal waking awareness. Every impulse to activity seems related to an upswing, which then drops out as soon as the impulse is carried through. During simple relaxation, meditation, and hypnosis, the record smooths out and usually drops dramatically as the subject gives up any active effort to direct mind or body (B). A few slow upswings are noted, during the beginning of the hypnotic induction, as the subject makes an effort to attend to the therapist’s remarks (C). These drop out as trance deepens, and the record shows a characteristically flat, low plateau with only low-amplitude slow waves (D). With more trance experience, even the low-amplitude activity drops out, and a smooth line record is obtained. As long as the subject remains mentally quiescent with an immobile (cataleptic) body, there are no peaks or valleys in the record. When the subject initiates mental activity or moves, peaks and valleys are usually recorded. The awakening periods are also followed by a typical pattern (E). The waking fast activity usually appears at a higher level than the initial basal waking level. This higher level is maintained for a few minutes until the record comes back to normal.
The difficulty with accepting such records as valid measures of trance is that they also appear whenever the subject quiets down during relaxation, meditation, or sleep, whether or not hypnosis has been formally induced. We would therefore offer a two-factor theory of hypnotic experience. First, there must be a state of openness and receptivity wherein subjects are not making any self-directed efforts to interfere with their own autonomous (default) mental activity or the suggestions of the therapist. Ravitz’s measurements, like those in Figure 2, are probably an effective indication (measurement) of this state of quiet (neuropsychotheraputic) receptivity. The second factor might be called “associative involvement,” whereby the hypnotherapist engages and utilizes the subject’s associations, mental mechanisms, and skills to facilitate a therapeutic experience. We regard this process of utilizing a patient’s own mental associations as the essence of suggestion. To be clear, hypnotic suggestion is not a process of insinuating or placing something into the subject’s mind. Rather, therapeutic hypnotic suggestion is the process of helping subjects utilize their own mental associations and capacities and ways that are formally outside the subject’s own usual ego controls.
Students and laboratory workers who have access to the proper electronic equipment (such as the Heath–Schlumberger Model SR–255B strip-chart recorder) can explore a number of interesting relations between hypnotic experience and the electronic monitoring of the body’s DC potential. Is the depth of the curve (Area D in Figure 2) related to trance depth, for example? It will be found that some subjects are able to speak during this low portion of the curve without any rise in their DC potential. Are these people better hypnotic subjects? Do any hypnotic phenomena other than catalepsy have such a characteristic curve? Are the classical hypnotic phenomena more readily evoked during the low plateau (D) of the curve? (pp. 63–65)
To answer these questions about the basic psychophysiology of Erickson’s naturalistic therapeutic hypnosis, Ernest Rossi then teamed up with David Lloyd, a senior researcher and professor at the Microbiology Group, School of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Wales, to begin a 16-year odyssey editing two volumes of international research into the fundamental principles of chronobiology and psychobiology (Lloyd & Rossi, 1992, 2008). Lloyd’s motivation was to highlight his lifetime of experimental research documenting how circadian (24-hour) and ultradian (less than 24-hour) rhythms from molecules to mind were the natural biological clocks regulating all life processes. Rossi’s motivation was to document how the natural human 90- to 120-minute basic rest activity cycle (BRAC) and 4-stage creative cycle could be the psychophysiological basis of Erickson’s naturalistic therapeutic hypnosis (Lloyd & Rossi, 1992, 2008; Hope & Sugarman, 2015; Rossi 2002, 2012; Rossi & Rossi, 2016a, 2016b). Little-noted at that time, however, was Stupfel’s (1992) prescient concept of the quantum nature of these circadian and ultradian rhythms in medical research, as follows:
Regarding the oscillatory activity episodes, Aschoff and Gerkema (1985) pointed out that ultradian rhythms of long periods may be an economic strategy to avoid continuous expense of energy and to alternate energetic expenditure and restoration. This biological energetic discontinuity has much in common with the physical quantum theory. In 1900, Planck formulated the principle that energy is not continuously radiated, but is discontinuously emitted by quanta of energy hv (h being the Planck constant and v the radiation frequency). Biologically speaking this would correspond to the intermittent, more or less periodic, exchanges of energy, heat, food intake, and rest–activity alternations between endotherms (warm-blooded creatures such as humans) and their environment. (p. 226)
Stupfel’s intuition was an early intimation of the quantum aspect of the oscillatory nature of the circadian and ultradian dynamics of all life cycles. This quantum intuition now motivates our current proposal of how Stupfel’s “biological energetic discontinuity” may underpin dissociation as a fundamental characteristic of naturalistic therapeutic hypnotic experience as well as life cycles in general. Box 3 outlines Maxwell’s four classical equations of electricity (E) and magnetism (H), which were the original theoretical rationale for the Erickson–Ravitz–Rossi electrodynamic quantum field correlates of therapeutic hypnosis.
Maxwell’s four electrodynamic field theory equations of divergence and curl (Box 3) are proposed as the mathematical and physical basis of the psychological concepts of dissociation and convergent re-association in therapeutic hypnosis. When people experience a physical or psychological shock, the delicate focus of their attention, consciousness, cognition, and behavior tends to diverge or dissociate, which results in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Therapeutic hypnosis can help people reintegrate what was dissociated with the curl or the re-convergence and focusing of their attention, consciousness, cognition, and expectancy. The integration of the languages of mathematics, physics, biology, psychology, and medicine (as shown in Box 1 and Box 3) highlights our STEM perspective for updating traditional cognitive behavioral theory, and research and practice of neuropsychotherapy in general.
Physicists describe the harmonic oscillator as a mathematical concept that bridges between the classical dynamics of nature originally formulated by Isaac Newton and the quantum dynamics originated by Max Planck and Albert Einstein. The next section explores how such oscillations (e.g., cycles, rhythms, periodicities, waves, oscillations) of energetic discontinuity (Stupfel, 1992) in biology, behavior, brain plasticity, consciousness, and cognition may be conceptualized as the quantum field correlates of neuropsychotherapy.
The Harmonic Oscillator in the Classical/Quantum Dynamics of Neuropsychotherapy
In their accessible book on quantum mechanics, Susskind and Friedman (2014) explain the harmonic oscillator in this way:
Of all the ingredients that go into building a quantum description of the world, two stand out as especially fundamental:
The spin, or qubit, of course is one of them. In classical logic, everything can be built out of yes–no questions. Similarly, in quantum mechanics, every logical question boils down to a question about qubits.
The second basic ingredient of quantum mechanics is the harmonic oscillator. The harmonic oscillator isn’t a particular object like a hydrogen atom or a quark. It’s really a mathematical framework for understanding a huge number of phenomena. This concept of the harmonic oscillator also exhibits in classical physics, but it really comes to the fore in quantum theory . . .
Why are harmonic oscillators so prevalent? . . . Many kinds of systems are characterized by an energy function that can be approximated by . . . some variable [of life and consciousness] representing a displacement from equilibrium. When disturbed, these systems will all oscillate about the equilibrium point. Here are some examples:
- An atom situated in a crystal lattice. If that atom is displaced slightly from its equilibrium position, it gets pushed back within approximately linear restoring force. This motion is three-dimensional and really consists of three independent oscillations.
- The electric current in a circuit of low resistance often oscillates with a characteristic frequency. The mathematics of circuits is identical to the mathematics of mass attached to springs.
- Waves. If the surface of a pond is disturbed, it sends out waves. Someone watching at a particular location will see the surface oscillate as the wave passes by. This motion can be described as simple harmonic motion. The same goes for sound waves.
- Electromagnetic waves. Just like any other wave, a light wave or radio wave oscillates when it passes you. The same mathematics that describes the oscillating particle also applies to electromagnetic waves. (pp. 311–313)
To these examples of the harmonic oscillator in the classical/quantum dynamics of nature, this paper adds the circadian and ultradian rhythms of the psychophysiological basis of life on all levels, from mind and behavior to molecules and genes, which were proposed as the fundamental basis of naturalistic therapeutic hypnosis by Lloyd and Rossi (1992, 2008). Three circadian and ultradian behavioral examples of independently collected data and graphs prepared by Helen Sing (1992) from the Department of Behavioral Biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, DC, are illustrated in Figures 3a, 3b, and 3c (see Rossi & Lippincott, 1992).
The main conclusion to be drawn from the data summarized in Figures 3a, 3b, and 3c is that the 200-year history of therapeutic hypnosis has been vastly oversimplified as suggestion on the purely cognitive/behavioral level. These data, however, are entirely consistent with the RNA/DNA quantum field theory of neuropsychotherapy, which asserts that most, if not all, of the classical phenomenology of hypnosis are expressions of the wave nature of mind–body circadian and ultradian psychobiological oscillations of adaptive homeostasis (Rossi & Lippincott, 1992; Rossi & Rossi, 2016a, 2016b). More fundamental experimental associations between hypnotic susceptibility, time of day, core body temperature, and gene expression by other independent research groups (Aldrich & Bernstein, 1987; Jensen, 2016) are displayed in Figure 3d. These associations have been described as the unification hypothesis of chronobiology in an evolutionary view of mind–body rhythms, stress, and rehabilitation (Rossi, 2004; Rossi et al., 2008; Rossi & Rossi, 2004).
A careful study of Figures 3a–d illustrates how they all approximate the mathematical concept of the quantum harmonic oscillator in nature and life, as described by Susskind and Friedman (2014). These empirically based psychophysiological correlates of therapeutic hypnosis could now be recognized as the correlates of eigenfunctions and energy levels formulated in the characteristic equations of quantum field theory (Klauber, 2015; Lancaster & Blundell, 2014).
The universality of the harmonic oscillator in the evolution of a unified quantum field theory of physics, biology, and neuropsychotherapy proposes a series of open questions, such as: Will it be possible to develop a mind–gene biofeedback, neuropsychotheraputic device, whereby voluntary conscious mental activity could modulate activity-dependent gene expression and brain plasticity (Rossi & Rossi, 2008)? That is, could top-down consciousness, attention, and expectancy during neuropsychotherapy modulate the psychosocial genomics dynamics of gene expression and brain plasticity (Cozzolino et al, 2014a, 2014b; Rossi & Rossi, 2014a)? Current research on RNA/DNA signaling documents the molecular details of how these epigenomic dynamics actually occur in living cells (Riddihough, 2016). This clarifies how RNA/DNA transcription factors function as an informational bridge between environmental stimuli, consciousness, cognition, activity-dependent gene expression, brain plasticity and behavior (Rossi, 2002, 2007, 2012). Epigenomics brings together a host of independently developed psychobiological fields associated with the foundational quantum mind-body healing dynamics of psychoneuroimmunology, psychoneuroendocrinology, stress, and optimal states of creativity and performance in everyday life as well as neuropsychotherapy (Doidge, 2015; Loewenstein, 1999, 2013; Rossi & Rossi, 2013, 2014a, 2014b, 2015a, 2015b, 2016a, 2016b).
Neuropsychotherapy Measurements of Brain Plasticity
We now propose how brain plasticity, behavior, consciousness, and creative cognition could be assessed and facilitated with an update of the Erickson–Ravitz electrodynamic measurements in a manner that is appropriate for neuropsychotherapy. Most approaches to psychotherapy, counseling, meditation, and virtually all top-down holistic mind–body dynamics of health and rehabilitation from ancient times to the present, are essentially concerned with the creation, destiny, and change of behavior, consciousness, and cognition. Quantum physicists typically trace the source of this evolution as the spontaneous creation and annihilation of matter out of the vacuum of space (Baggott, 2011; Davies & Brown, 1988; Krauss, 2012; Schweber, 1994). The Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Frank Wilczek (2002), describes this profound scientific integration of biology, mathematics, physics, biology, and psychology via quantum field theory as follows:
The more profound, encompassing result was a complete reworking of the foundations of our descriptions of matter. In this new physics, particles are mere ephemera. They are freely created and destroyed: Indeed, their fleeting existence and exchanges is the source of all interactions. The truly fundamental objects are universal, transformative ethers; quantum fields. These are the concepts that underlie our modern, wonderfully successful theory of matter (usually called, quite inadequately, the Standard Model). And the Dirac equation itself, drastically reinterpreted and vastly generalized, but never abandoned, remains a central pillar in our understanding of nature. … (p. 104)
In hindsight we can discern that much more ancient and fundamental dichotomies are in play: the dichotomy of light versus matter; the dichotomy of continuous versus discrete. These dichotomies present tremendous barriers to the goal of achieving a unified description of Nature. Of the theories Dirac and his contemporaries sought to reconcile, relativity was the child of light and the continuum, and quantum theory was the child of matter and the discrete. After Dirac’s revolution had run its course, all were reconciled, in the mind-stretching conceptual amalgam we call a quantum field. … Early in the nineteenth century, a very different picture of light, according to which it consists of waves, scored brilliant successes. Physicists accepted that there must be a continuous, space-filling ether to support these waves. The discoveries of Faraday and Maxwell, assimilating light to the play of electric and magnetic fields, which are themselves continuous entities filling all space, refined and reinforced this idea [quantum field theory] . … (p. 105)
Indeed, many authors in philosophy and the humanities, as well as scientists in quantum mechanics, have used light as a STEM metaphor of the dynamics of consciousness, cognition, and human nature (Gregory & Gregory, 2014; Loewenstein, 1999, 2013; McFadden, 2000; Stapp, 1993), which are illustrated in the next section. Wilczek (2002) continues:
In 1927 [Dirac] applied the principle of the new quantum mechanics to Maxwell’s equations of classical electrodynamics. He showed that Einstein’s revolutionary postulate that light comes in particles—photons—was a consequence of a logical application of these principles. … Few observations are so common as that light can be created from non-light, say by a flashlight . . . This means that the quantum theory of Maxwell’s equations is a theory of the creation and destruction of particles (photons). Indeed, the electromagnetic field appears, in Dirac’s [theory], primarily as an agent of creation and destruction. The particles—photons—we observe result from the action of this field, which is the primary object. Photons come and go, but the field abides. …
The result of a logical application of the principles of quantum mechanics to Dirac’s equation is an object similar to what he found for Maxwell’s equations. It is an object that destroys electrons and creates positrons. Both are examples of quantum fields. When the object that appears in Dirac’s equation is interpreted as a quantum field, the negative-energy solutions take on a completely different meaning, with no problematic aspects. The positive-energy solutions multiply electron-destruction operators while the negative-energy solutions multiply positron-creation operators. …
The description of light and matter was put, at last, on a common footing. Dirac said, with understandable satisfaction that with the emergence of quantum electrodynamics physicists had obtained foundational equations adequate to describe “all of chemistry, and most of physics.” (p. 117)
The molecular biologist, McFadden (2000), proposed the scientific development of quantum biology and psychology in his highly innovative volume on quantum evolution as follows:
The classical view of the dynamics inside living cells (still the view held by most biologists) was of classical particles perusing independent trajectories through intercellular spaces. This vision allowed biochemists and geneticists to wholeheartedly adopt the reductionist program of dissecting the cell into smaller and smaller pieces, with the expectation of gaining a greater and greater level of understanding. However, now biology has reached the level of fundamental particles, we must confront the quantum cell, which has revealed itself as a dynamic mosaic of quantum and classical states. Particles can no longer be considered as independent entities but as the products of internal quantum measurement. Quantum mechanics directs us to look up from the fundamental particles and examine the environment measuring them.
Why does this matter? … Measurement of quantum particles is not ever innocuous; it always affects dynamics. Physicists are normally employed to make quantum measurements, and the choices they make … affect the dynamics of the systems they study. But now, we have the living cell as an independent quantum-measuring device that measures its own state, so that the choices it makes about what it wishes to measure will influence its internal dynamics.
The environment of the cell arms its quantum-measuring devices and thereby determines the properties that the cell can measure. This will in turn influence the internal dynamics of the cell. This represents a kind of choice, since it is an influence denied to inanimate objects unable to measure the quantum states of the particles within them. … Nevertheless, I do believe that this ability to make quantum choices is the basis for our sense of volition as conscious beings. (pp. 252–253)
These carefully considered hypotheses about quantum dynamics as an essential characteristic of all living systems now find further important scientific support from the fundamental role of the weak force (McFadden & Al-Khalili, 2014; Wilczek, 2008, 2015) during the DNA dynamics of transcription and translation, which could be facilitated with neuropsychotherapy, as implied by the following case studies.
Case Studies of the Quantum Electrodynamic Field Theory of Neuropsychotherapy
We now illustrate our proposed quantum electrodynamic field theory of a variety of human experiences with new technology, using a Pico ADC-20/ADC-24 data logger with ± 39 to ± 2500 mV input to update the Erickson–Ravitz archival devices that are no longer available commercially. Preliminary case studies of the electrodynamic quantum field correlates of neuropsychotherapy are presented here to illustrate a number of basic patterns observed with volunteer subjects as a prelude to further studies (Schork, 2015). These patterns are only suggestive of the many open questions that now require more systematic and better controlled STEM research to explore how physics, biology, and psychology interact in our proposed top-down quantum electrodynamic field theory of neuropsychotherapy.
A Basic Quantum Electrodynamic Field Signature of Therapeutic Hypnosis?
The original 4-stage pattern of the electrometric correlates of the hypnotic state via catalepsy, illustrated and discussed earlier in Figure 1 (Ravitz, 1950) and Figure 2 (Erickson & Rossi, 1981/2014), is again evident in the top half (red) of Figure 4. This provides us with some assurance that our current neuropsychotherapy technology is replicating the early work of Erickson, Ravitz, and Rossi. Whereas the early recordings from 1950 and 1981 had only a single line measuring electromagnetic amplitude (in mV) between sensors placed on the forehead and the palm of one hand, current technology permits measurements from two or more sensors usually placed on the forehead and the palms of both hands. The lower half (blue) of the recording appears to be a mirror reflection of the top half. What could this left–right hand mirror symmetry mean? We propose this is a manifestation of Noether’s theorem relating the mathematical associations between symmetry and the fundamental conservation laws of nature, discussed below.
Mirror reflections of left–right symmetry are referred to as parity and/or chirality in quantum electrodynamic field theory on many STEM levels, from particle physics to biology and psychology (Baggott, 2011; Davies & Brown, 1988; Gleick, 1992; Lancaster & Blundell, 2014). Because of this, the recorded field (area, channel, or space) between the head and left and right hands is conceptualized in this paper as a computational image (Tricoche, MacLeod, & Johnson, 2008) of the boundaries of the quantum electrodynamic field which, in more familiar terms, could be described as attention, focus, the bandwidth of consciousness, and electrodermal activity (Prokasy & Raskin, 1973); or the more recent concepts of biomolecular energy landscapes (Neupane et al, 2016; Wolynes, 2016). Further research is now required to ascertain whether such neuropsychotheraputic amplitudes are useful visualizations for measuring the bits or qubits of information in quantum electrodynamic fields and/or signatures of the various states of consciousness, cognition, and behavior (Loewenstein, 1999, 2013).
Neuropsychotherapy of Stroke and Biofeedback
Figure 5 is the electrodynamic recording of a professional woman who had a hemorrhagic stroke about 20 years ago and was now interested in exploring biofeedback for rehabilitating the hemiparesis in her left hand and foot. She was encouraged to “look at and bring together” her emerging bioelectronic recoding, which initially showed a gap of about 20 mV between her left and right hands. Throughout the course of her 50-minute exploratory study, she was gently encouraged to simply bring the emerging top (red) and bottom (blue) parts of her electrometric recording together so that her normal right hand could teach her stroke-impaired left hand to move normally. She was apparently successful—in that the bioelectronic gap between her right and left hand was greatly reduced to about 5 mV by the end of this exploratory session. (The burst of electronic activity recorded in the last 5 minutes and clearly visible in Figure 5 was an artifact due to the large physical movements of terminating the recording.) The woman was warmly congratulated for her success in reducing the gap, but she seemed unimpressed since there was no evident improvement in the paralysis of her left hand in this single session. Nevertheless, the recording in Figure 5 does suggest how to cope with one of the most fundamental problems of applied mathematics, namely: How can subjective states of human consciousness and cognition be mapped with objective measurements?
Despite her earlier disappointment, two weeks later the same woman wanted to explore again whether hypnosis could improve her performance. The second recording is shown in Figure 6. Notice how the first 15 minutes of the recording began with the typically downward slope characteristic of hypnotic induction; this was interrupted by a sudden burst of bioelectronic activity at about 17 minutes with a great widening of her quantum electrodynamic field when she apparently “got it,” whatever “it” was. This very striking expansion (widening) was followed by a symmetrical narrowing of her quantum electrodynamic field, between 0 mV and −5 mV for about 20 minutes, which Ravitz and Erickson noted as typical of deep hypnosis (Rossi, Erickson–Klein, & Rossi, 2008, 2015). Such rapid changes in electromagnetic polarity were regarded by Ravitz (1962) as heralding significant shifts in consciousness, cognition, emotions, and behavioral dynamics in normal individuals as well as psychiatric patients. Well-controlled, independent bioinformatics research is now required to assess the significance, reliability, and validity of these early claims.
Neuropsychotherapy of Head Trauma, Kriya Meditation, and Yoga
The next case example is of 59-year-old woman who had experienced a head concussion five years previously, which led to what she called a loss of her “immediate term memory.” Her immediate term memory was recovered a year later, four years before her participation in this study. Part of her rehabilitation was the practice of yoga, for which she received documented credit for 750 hours of teacher training. On several trips to India she received initiation into Kriya meditation (Wyder, 2014), which she has continued to practice for about one hour twice a day. Her Kriya meditation touched upon the highest intensity of bioelectrodynamic activity (60 mV) documented in this paper. (Figure 7)
The first 30 minutes in Figure 7 illustrates the wave nature of an active series of Kriya meditations, which her right hand (red) records at a higher level of gradually ascending activity (beginning at about 50 mV to almost 60 mV), while her left hand (blue) records a lower level (beginning at about 25 mV and topping out at about 30 mV). The last 20 minutes of her self-guided meditation appears to be a resting state (Rossi, 2012), with the intensity level of both sides reduced to about 20 mV (Spetsieris et al., 2015). What does this bioinformatic pattern of her meditation mean? She had recovered from the loss of her immediate term memory with the help of her yoga practice long ago, but now she wondered if an experience of hypnosis would show a meaningful neuropsychotherapy pattern.
Figure 8 illustrates her next session when hypnosis was used. After about 5 minutes of random activation due to the attachments and preparations for this exploration, this recording of her electrodynamic field illustrates the typical downward slope of a hypnotic induction from her initial default level of normal waking consciousness at around 50 mV to about 20 minutes of a symmetrical pattern of inner focusing at the ± 20 mV level at the end of her session.
Thirty minutes into the session she suddenly announced she had to use the restroom. When she returned the electronic sensors were reattached to her forehead and hands. She then spontaneously and serenely poured forth with the most intimate personal psychodynamic history of her early childhood abuse, adolescent identity struggles, and a hero’s journey for a place in the professional world. All this took place with absolutely no prompting from the astonished authors of this paper who were both present in all these exploratory sessions with her but had previously never heard about her abusive childhood. When questioned about this, she demurely responded that she had always known about the abuse but somehow or other never realized its significance. Notice the widening of her bioelectrodynamic field in the last half of the recording: Is this a correlate of the widening of her consciousness, cognition, and self-awareness facilitated with a spontaneous review of her childhood abuse? Notice the left- and right-hand symmetry at the zero level of her recording during the last 10 minutes of quiet nonverbal serenity and rest, when neither she nor the authors uttered a single word. Does this imply she was really finished or at least satisfied with her self-directed neuropsychotheraputic work for now?
Symmetry in the Neuropsychotherapy of the Creative Consciousness and Cognition
The highly symmetrical neuropsychotherapy recording of creative consciousness and cognition in a 42-year-old woman who was a well-functioning CEO of a business enterprise is illustrated in Figure 9. When she was shown this recording she immediately became brightly animated and explained: “Oh! I know what this is all about! Here right in the middle is a high peak when I became excited with a new insight that solved a business problem I’ve been working on! It was a real ‘aha’ experience! Then I reviewed it several times with these smaller peaks, and when I was sure I would remember it, I opened my eyes.”
These observations suggest how this recording may illustrate the bioelectronic correlates of the 4-stage experience of creative consciousness and cognition during neuropsychotherapy. Stage 1 is the normal default state of ordinary consciousness at about 10 minutes. The initial neuropsychotheraputic drop of more than 20 mV in Stage 2 is the typical indication of an inner focusing of attention and expectancy for about 15 minutes. In this particular recording, an ascent with a series of 2 or 3 rising peaks for about 10 minutes then culminated with an Aha! peak at Stage 3. This was followed by a series of 3 descending peaks for about 15 minutes when the subject was apparently reinforcing her memory, which culminated in the characteristic Stage 4 peak that was slightly higher (at about 25 mV) than her initial default state.
We propose that the type of neuropsychotheraputic symmetry illustrated by Figure 9 is an integration of the classical/quantum interfaces of physics, biology, and psychology. Amalie Emmy Noether (1882–1935), one of the leading mathematicians of her time, made fundamental contributions to our current conception of fields, algebra, and equations. In physics, Noether’s theorem relates the mathematics of symmetry to the fundamental laws of nature—the conservation of energy and linear and angular momentum as well as the conservation of electric charge. This mathematical perspective suggests that modern theory and research in neuropsychotherapy could make important contributions to a unified theory of the classical/quantum interfaces between physics, biology, and psychology (Halpern, 2015). Symmetry in human neuropsychotherapy is conceptualized here in terms of Noether’s theorem of nature’s conservation laws for a unified theory of physics, biology, and psychology on the quantum level.
The neurosurgeon Walter Penfield (1891–1976) created the original well-known image of the “human homunculus,” which illustrated what we would look like if our body parts were as big as the brain space they take up. We have redrawn the Penfield image (Figure 10) to integrate our conception of the 4-stage creative cycle of the observer/operator in psychology, which is consistent with the Penrose (1994, 2004) and Cohen-Tannougji (1993) perspectives of the quantum/classical horizons of consciousness and cognition in the neuropsychotherapy of the mind/brain.
Semantic Mind–Brain Maps and the Quantum Qualia of Creative Consciousness
This paper outlines a new integration of the theory, research, and practice of neuropsychotherapy at the classical/quantum (conscious/unconscious) interfaces of physics, biology, and psychology. The mathematician Ian Stewart (1989) discusses some of the salient issues in this way:
It isn’t easy to interpret quantum mechanics at a human level. Indeed, one school of thought argues that there’s no point in trying to do so, because the quantum world and our senses have nothing in common. Others disagree, and offer interpretations anyway. In a popular one, the wave function represents not the state of a particle, but a superposition of all possible states; and when an observation is made, the wave function “collapses” to a single state. Before this collapse, it represents the probability that the system will be found in a given state. I don’t actually like this interpretation much. As we’ve seen, neither did Albert Einstein. Let me quote his letter to Max Born at greater length, to show the context:
You believe in the God who plays dice, and I in complete law and order in a world that objectively exists, and which I, in a wildly speculative way am trying to capture. I firmly believe, but I hope that someone will discover a more realistic way, or rather a more tangible basis than it has been my lot to do. Even the great initial success of the quantum theory does not make me believe in the fundamental dice game, although I am well aware that your younger colleagues interpret this as senility. … Either God is playing dice or He’s playing a deeper game that we have yet to fathom.
I agree with Einstein. I like the second idea—the deeper game, which we don’t understand yet—a lot more. (pp. 292–293)
We now propose that this deeper game of integrating the quantum world view of physics and biology is currently emerging with new insights into uncertainty, expectancy, and the observer/operator effect in neuropsychotherapy. It was a difficult problem for physics to realize that the inner mind–brain observer could interfere with the observed in the outside world. In other words, the so-called objective scientific measurements of the outside world are dependent on the perceptions of the inner subjective world of psychology. We now propose that the physicist’s problem of quantum observations (so-called weird or paradoxical measurements) may be transformed into an opportunity for neuropsychotherapy that we propose to call the observer/operator effect, illustrated above in Figure 10. The observer/operator effect is a central challenge for an integrative science of neuropsychotherapy: Making novel or highly salient observations on the classical/quantum (consciousness/unconsciousness) interface automatically operates on the molecular–epigenomic level of brain plasticity to update and change consciousness, cognition, expectancy, and behavior. A summary schematic of the cyclic classical to quantum and the quantum to classical transitions of consciousness and cognition previously published in detail (Rossi, 2002; Rossi & Rossi, 2016a, 2016b) is illustrated here in Figure 11.
The upshot for a neuropsychotherapy of consciousness/unconsciousness (classical/quantum) transitions experienced in everyday life as well as via counseling, meditation, coaching, mindfulness, translational medicine, and so forth is that any novel and numinous (Otto, 1923/1958) conscious observations that are made by the therapist and/or the patient automatically operate unconsciously to transform both of them on the quantum level (Rossi, 2002; Rossi & Rossi, 2014b, 2016a). It may initially only be a small quantum qualia of sensation, perception, and meaning in subjective experience and/or transference, but we propose that amplifications of these quantum qualia of psychological transformation can be causal in mediating objectively measured RNA/DNA cascades of epigenetic activity-dependent gene expression and brain plasticity that underpins new states of consciousness, cognition, and behavior (Doidge, 2015; Rossi, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2012).
Over the past century, quantum field theory has become the most accurate science on atomic as well as cosmic scales of observation and measurement. In quantum mechanics, quantities such as energy and mass are not continuous; instead they come in discrete lumps, or quanta. Paradoxically these quanta have dual wave–particle identity, described mathematically by a quantum mechanical wave–function equation that is supposed to represent something existing in outside reality. A recent school of thought called quantum Bayesian (Caves, Fuchs, & Schack, 2001; Fuchs, 2001, 2010, 2011, 2012), however, reinterprets the wave function as a subjective psychological belief system governed by the rules of Bayesian statistics, so that the so-called mysterious and weird physical paradoxes of quantum mechanics vanish. As we have already noted, the physicist’s problem of paradoxical quantum observations (measurements) may be transformed into an opportunity for neuropsychotherapy and psychology by the observer/operator effect. The upshot for neuropsychotherapy is that any novel and numinous observation that is made by people in positive empathic relationships automatically operates to transform activity-dependent epigenetic gene expression and brain plasticity, which underpins new therapeutic states of creative consciousness, cognition associated with rewarding emotional experience, and social relationships (Rossi, 2002, 2012; Rossi & Rossi, 2016a, 2016b).
Open Questions About the Dynamics of Neuropsychotherapy
The STEM concepts of the quantum electrodynamic field theory of bioinformatics, which originated in the pioneering work of Northrop, Burr, Erickson and Ravitz three generations ago, has been enriched with modern bioelectronic recordings of what we would regard as the span of attention, the focus of concentration, the bandwidth of consciousness, mental activity, electrodermal activity, the mind–body information channel capacity or, more generally, mind–brain maps and the quantum qualia of creative consciousness. Our research review implies that modern quantum field theory is entirely consistent with and greatly extends the foundational details of Lankton’s (2015) classical states of consciousness (SoC) model of therapeutic hypnosis and its induction. Indeed, quantum field theory conceptualizes subjective states of consciousness (SoCs) as objectively measured quantized fields of cognition. We now may ask open questions about how evolution selected for the quantum field theory dynamics of gene expression, brain plasticity, behavior, and their associated quantum qualia of consciousness, in the SoC model of hypnosis (Lankton, 2015; Rossi, 2012; Rossi & Rossi, 2016a, 2016b). Why do we have consciousness in the first place? What adaptive value could the highly sensitive quantum qualia of the electrodynamic fields of subjective consciousness in neuropsychotherapy possibly have? Why are we not unconscious zombies relying on blind and brute bottom-up DNA epigenetic molecular mechanisms for survival (Chalmers, 1996; Dennett, 1991; Loewenstein, 1999, 2013; McFadden & Al-Khalili, 2014; Nørretranders, 1998; Pekala, 2015)?
Are the STEM-inspired quantum electrodynamic fields illustrated in this paper meaningful in terms of the seemingly eternal philosophical debates about the nature and utility of consciousness, cognition, dream, emotions, fantasy, subjective belief, and free will? Could the quantum field theory observer/operator bioelectronic recordings of novel and subjective quantum qualia of human cognition actually be correlates of objectively measured activity-dependent epigenetic expression and brain plasticity in creating new consciousness and self-identity that are apparently lost in Alzheimer’s disease, for example (Rossi & Rossi, 2014a, 2014b, 2015a, 2015b)? Indeed, does the intense focusing on the quantum qualia of subjective human experience in neuropsychotherapy really facilitate the causal efficacy of the top-down holistic approaches to healing and rehabilitation optimized by the art, beauty, and truth in the cultural rituals of meditation, spiritual rituals, and the many styles of therapeutic mindfulness throughout human history? Could integration of the classical/quantum cyclic dynamics of physics, biology, and psychology provide a unified update of the von Neumann & Morgenstern (1953/2007) game model of human behavior? Recall how these authors carefully discussed one of the most fundamental problems of applied mathematics: How can subjective states of human consciousness, cognition, and experience be mapped with objective measurements? Our case studies suggest how a new generation of neuropsychotherapy research could scientifically pursue this integration of the subjective experiences and objective measurements of physics, biology, and psychology with semantic mind–brain maps of the quantum qualia of creative human consciousness.
The STEM perspective of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics provokes profound but still poorly understood open questions about the quantum nature of bioinformatics in physics, biology, and neuropsychology. Current bioelectronic technology is illustrated for implementing a proposed quantum field theory to integrate research on activity-dependent epigenomics, brain plasticity, behavior, consciousness, cognition, dissociation, expectancy, and the quantum qualia of neuropsychotherapy. This paper proposes that the physicist’s problem of paradoxical quantum observations (measurements) may be transformed into an opportunity for neuropsychotherapy called the observer/operator effect. Under appropriate conditions, bioelectronic amplitudes can be objective correlates of subjective states of creative consciousness and cognition facilitated with neuropsychotherapy. It should not escape our notice that this STEM perspective of neuropsychotherapy could support a new quantum-level integration of fundamental research in physics, biology, and psychology for the objective measurement and optimization of human behavior, consciousness, and therapeutic cognition.
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Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ernest Rossi, The Psychosocial Genomics Research Institute, 125 Howard Avenue, Los Osos CA 93402, USA.
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