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Mann, D. (1994). The Quantum Self by Danah Zohar. Published by Flamingo, 1991; 245 pages.. Brit. J. Psychother., 10(4):591-595.

(1994). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 10(4):591-595

The Quantum Self by Danah Zohar. Published by Flamingo, 1991; 245 pages.

Review by:
David Mann

This is a bold book attempting to relate the complexities of quantum physics to the development of the self. It is only within the last couple of decades that the ideas from quantum mechanics have really begun to filter from the rarefied atmosphere of modern physics into other areas. This book is part of that process.

Zohar shows how Cartesian philosophy and Newtonian physics were dominating influences that have shaped modern culture's view of everything from science to the cult of the individual. She convincingly demonstrates how Newton's theories lead to a conception of the universe as a lifeless design and that this was ultimately the inspiration behind Freud's ‘dark psyche’. For 300 years physics has supported the mind/body split. Matter was conceived as mechanical with no sense of purpose of intentions. The spiritual and the psychological came to be seen as a separate side of life. I think Zohar over-states her case at this point: Newton was a devout believer in God and his ultimate explanation of why gravity did not cause all the planets to collapse onto each other was that he believed it was God who kept them apart. This, along with other odd ideas such as Newton's belief in the aphrodisiac qualities of unicorn horns, has been distilled out of his theories by later generations of physicists and philosophers. That said, the old Newtonian idea of dividing the world into space, time, matter and causality has a firm grip in the modern mind. Quantum mechanics claims, on the other hand, that not only is there no space separating objects, there are not even objects!

In quantum physics reality is indeterminate, just a matter of probabilities.

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