In this dissertation I make a case for how mental health care, specifically disordered eating, is in need of an adjunctive field of discourse, that being theories on philosophy of consciousness, cosmology, and the new epistemology of science based on physics. Without psychological inquiry and education on new theories about consciousness and new perspectives on the nature of reality, mental health treatment is incomplete and outdated. I bring these topics to the eating disorder field in three ways: by choosing the scientific and philosophical discourse to be added into treatment; by translating the complex and abstract topics into psychologically relevant, lay public coursework; and, finally, through the creation of actual processes that help bring the material into direct experience. The science and philosophy discourse topics that will transform disordered eating are presented through lecture, inquiry for consideration, and discussion options.
Consciousness, cosmology, and the new epistemology of science based on physics is simplified with examples of how it can be implemented within individual sessions, group sessions, or workshops for disordered eating treatment and with application to other mental health problems. The psychological application of the material is further enhanced through my description of a variety of experiential processes, from writing assignments and guided visualizations to storytelling, rituals, encounters in nature, and embodiment activities. I have created the lectures, inquiry, and experiential processes within a dynamic body of work, named the Emergence Courses, that have been introduced to professionals treating disordered eating and to clients for use.
Chapter 1: Introduction
In this theoretical work, I deliver a brand new transdisciplinary approach to mental health treatment. I do this by taking the astounding and mostly unknown physics, consciousness, and cosmology of the last century and walking participants through the front doors of the clinical treatment of disordered eating, and in doing so provide a format for illuminating lay public teachings and processes. My longstanding professional history in the treatment and theoretical discourse of body image driven eating and exercise disorders has provided me a trial forum to explore what I believe is the missing link in clinical treatment: inquiry about consciousness. The discoveries in physics, cosmology, and neuroscience within the last century implicate consciousness as a universal ordering principle within psychological subjectivity, as well as a new cosmological origin. (Levy, 2018; Sabbadini, 2017). Hence, it is a century overdue to bring the new epistemology of physics and consciousness discourse into the halls of clinical psychological work.
The last century of scientific ground-breaking discoveries have been deemed too complex to understand evidenced by the fact that few in our society know about the breakthroughs in quantum physics, and consciousness. For reasons I examine here, too taboo to bring into the current culture despite the desperate need for a new paradigm of meaning. I bring the ever-present inquiry into the personal inquiry about who and what humans are, as well as humankind’s bafflement about the very nature of reality, into the clinical rooms of mental health treatment. Having been the grateful recipient of mental health care as well as a provider, I am aware that attunement to timing regarding these basic yet existential topics is critical.
My persistent and life long curiosity about consciousness, physics, and the new epistemology of science led to extensive research through this dissertation effort and a product. This product is the Emergence Courses, designed as a scientific philosophical adjunct to standard eating disorder treatment methods, creating a more complete mental health treatment. As a side note, I formally use capital letters for the word “courses”, following the title Emergence throughout this paper. Otherwise when I refer to Emergence work or processes or another descriptive, I will not capitalize these other references to this coursework.
I began debuting the Emergence Course content and experiential processes, through the eating disorder field, where I owned day treatment clinics. I continue to use them throughout my eating disorder professional retreat-trainings for women, Tending the Feminine Psyche Workshops, described throughout this paper. The educational teachings about the revolution in science, based on quantum physics and consciousness, which are core to this coursework, changes the entire paradigm of how we imagine reality in the most optimistic sense. I will also add that I use the second person throughout this paper, especially through my own unpublished material, which I cite throughout the body of this dissertation, especially in the appendixes. I use the second person to highlight the immediacy of and personal nature of its scope, that is, integrating philosophy, cosmology and consciousness into mental health treatment.
Each of the teachings in the course are paired with experiential processes, which I created to bring the teachings to life. The entire body of work needed a name, so I decided on the name Emergence Courses after the systems theory phenomena known as emergence, in which the birth of brand new forms or entities are generated, giving rise to a greater whole than the sum of its parts (Combs, 2009; Gleick, 2008). In other words, emergence implies a generative new holistic entity or energy, breaking through the boundaries of the ingredients that contribute to it. The educational teachings about the revolution in science, based on quantum physics and consciousness, changes the entire paradigm of how we imagine reality in the most optimistic sense. I posit the teachings and experiential processes within this coursework provide professionals and clients just such a generative awakening as they meet themselves on a whole new level, as the new awareness that consciousness is begins breaking through the limits of standard psychotherapy. This work is meant as an adjunct to eating disorder recovery endeavors, which are long overdue for such a supplement. This is a work whose time has come, and someone who has a foot in both the field of eating disorders as well as philosophies of consciousness and physics, as I do, might be honored to do the job.
I birthed the Emergence Courses to bring in a return toward philosophy, one based on the implications of science, in addition to the other aspects of powerful self-inquiry that occur in ideal clinical psychology environments. From my experience, few of the lay public, including professionals treating disordered eating, have a clue that quantum mechanics and relativity have forever changed our world. Few understand the new implications of the central role our own personal subjectivity plays, where an epic interface between neuroscience and the quantum field, or superposition (Laszlo,2007), hosts the boundless radiance of consciousness (Combs, 2009; Pylkkanen, 2007; Stapp, 2011). Without a clear understanding of the new theories and inquiries into consciousness, humankind continues to live in a crisis of perception, one that directly fuels the crisis in felt meaning (Needleman, 2003; W. Thompson, 1981, 1996).
In short, the product of my theoretical research, the Emergence Courses, are a set of optimistic, didactic teachings and experiential processes that I argue will fill the unnamable impoverishment of the soul that accompanies the mechanistic scientific epistemology of reality. I am proposing that the level of human alienation that naturally abides within the dark rationalism of our current culture’s default mode of thinking should have a name, if not a diagnosis of its own. Psychotherapy is too burdened with individual trauma, childhood histories, relationship struggles, overwhelm, and addiction to begin to know what to do with the steady desacralization of the world, while the solutions about new universal ordering principles simply await translation from the towers of academia to the everyday people.
I am a part of this new effort. Through decades of experience in speaking to professionals treating eating disorders and other mental health problems, psychotherapists, physicians and registered dietitian specialists, I am aware that they are already taxed with insurance company demands to get more accomplished in less and less time. This is why the professional workshops for women, with the eco retreat style renewal , include these teachings about cosmology, consciousness, and physics, along with yoga and dance classes, deep immersion in nature, and riotous improvisation through storytelling. The only reason these professional retreats do not include men is that I have not gotten that far in my work, but I intend to. The retreats that I describe, fill up, with waiting lists, and I assume they do because of the attention to consciousness that occurs throughout our week together on many levels.
My professional history treating disordered eating provides a launching pad for this body of work, which will drastically upgrade the current epistemology of science based psychological treatment into an explosive new metalevel of wonder and meaning in life. I am using eating disorders as an initial home for this work, with a plan to write a series of books aimed at translating the implications of quantum physics, neuroscience as it relates to consciousness, and cosmology into psychological discourse.
As an example, let me pose some familiar questions for consideration. These questions could offer a challenge that an entire genre of philosophical discourse could speak to if this discourse was present in mental health treatment. When people go into mental health treatment, as part of what comes up in their psychological work they might eventually dare to ask, “Who or what are we, as human beings?” “What is the underlying nature of reality?” “How can I find meaning in just being a human being?” or “What is consciousness?”
Without relying on spirituality or religion, which most therapists are trained to avoid, most of us in the field, I argue, do not even know that the answers to these questions are actually taking form through the unlikely door of physics (Chopra & Kafatos, 2017; Kafatos & Nadeau, 2000), cosmology (Swimme, 1996), and neuroscience (Hameroff, Kaszniak, & Scott, 1996). The Emergence Courses will add this new discourse and these inquiry processes to standard mental health treatment, filling a void in mental health treatment. From my experience, the professionals treating mental health are already overwhelmed by the level of suffering in patients seeking treatment for disordered eating, and the many coexisting and related disorders such as addiction, anxiety and depression. From my perspective, the need for mental health services are demanding because we are all a product of generations of people who were simply trying to survive, without the time, energy or understanding about how to attach, attune and parent infants and children. As a result, I think about the many individuals, suffering psychologically in today’s world, that I see as a product of the many hundreds, if not thousands of years of deep psychological disruption, not only from the loss of community and connectedness needed for healthy child psychology, but we are also the descendants of those who suffered deeply from the rise patriarchal power dominance, severe racial inequality and atrocities, poverty and food insecurity on a variety of levels, the industrial revolution and separation from our ecological home, generational child abuse and neglect, to name a few. From my own perspective on life, including the level of abuse and neglect, and mental health problems within my own family, clients, and colleagues, it appears that those who have come before us have not had the time, resources, or most important the knowledge about psychology, especially the bonding and skills needed to raise children. Now that some within our culture, want to make the effort toward psychological healing, what I observe in my own specialty with disordered eating, is that we have much work to do to reach all of the people who do not have access to treatment. Yet the focus of this paper, is more about expanding eating disorder treatment, as a model for other mental health work, toward the inquiry about our own place in the cosmos, as conscious beings.
Mental health treatment has not had the scientific discoveries, until the last century, to even offer a discussion about the cosmos or our home in the atoms that make up the molecules of our planet or our earthsuit, our bodyhome in physical matter. Mental health treatment does not question our personal, subjective sense of awareness, nor the deeper consciousness at the root of subjectivity, since consciousness has been assumed to simply be an aberrant, chance, byproduct of the brain (Combs, 2009). Even if we closely follow the contents of subjectivity and the processes of subjectivity through phenomenological practices, for example, in using mindfulness as a part of behavioral therapy (Godfrey, Gallo, & Afari, 2015), an integral aspect of acceptance and commitment therapy (R. Harris, 2019), or even the well renowned intuitive eating approach to treating disordered eating (Tribole & Resch, 1995), these practices are not yet understood to be central to a new paradigm of consciousness, one that I am introducing here, toward standard treatment of eating disorders.
The reason that these and other inquiries related to the nature and meaning of consciousness, are not included in mental health treatment is simple in my view. Most people remain unaware of what physics uncovered over a century ago that will change the entire world in the same way other revolutions in science epistemology have done in times past (Kuhn, 1962; Levy, 2018). Most people remain unaware that mathematics and science are pointing toward a fundamental level of consciousness within the universe, a new paradigm of science that is nearly unimaginably astounding (Chopra & Kafatos, 2017; E. Harris, 2000; Levy, 2018; Sabbadini, 2017).
I have created a set of profound teachings, based on brilliant scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians, such as (Einstein, 2006; Heisenberg, 1958; Russell, 2002; Sabbadini, 2017; Schrodinger, 1964; Stapp, 2009, 2011), along with my own deeply immersive phenomenal processes, as a part of the Emergence Courses. These teachings can be learned by any interested mental health professional, including the registered dietitian nutritionists specializing in eating disorders as well as psychiatrists, physicians, and those many professionals running treatment centers. The Emergence teachings offer a simplified understanding of the revolution in science epistemology, as described in this paper, as well as a clear means of translating the implications of the science toward psychological discourse. Through this series of translations that I have made, the mental health field can turn the corner from ignorance to enlightenment when it comes to how consciousness and the cosmological home interface, dance, and relate. The new epistemology of science is integral and engaging in its participatory mystique, pointing away from the hostile universe of crushing statistics toward an enchanted universe within which one can feel deeply interrelated (Swimme, 1996, 2005; Tarnas, 2006).
I will continue to be an advocate for the burdened field of psychology in today’s world, and I do not intend to add more pressure through my adjunctive new wing of philosophy. I am all too familiar with the weariness of those in the mental health field, working hard to herald the cause of just staying alive, much less heralding finding purpose, if not awe and wonder, in life again. Although there are many societal, industrial, economic, ecological, political, and cultural factors that contribute to today’s problems, I can imagine that those in the field of mental health recovery are either too busy or not interested in the revolution in the epistemology of science based on the interfaces between quantum physics; relativity; cosmology; and, importantly, neuroscience.
These topics just happen to match my longstanding curiosity about the nature of reality and how humankind constructs meaning. I am very lucky to have had my life work as a dietitian nutritionist and theorist within the psychological field of disordered eating end up in a sacred run in with the questions that I formerly believed only spirituality and religion could answer.
Throughout my life, I have had a closeted interest in physics, cosmology, and consciousness, especially as they illuminate the secret hidden in the heart of the cosmos, the nature of underlying reality. I came out of that closet after reading Brian Swimme’s (1996) Hidden Heart of the Cosmos and meeting Richard Tarnas (1991, 2006), who wrote my letter of recommendation for admission both of whom have guided me toward fully showing up for yet a new level of life at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
I believe this work will change the course of disordered eating treatment, if not help herald the change in the entire mental health care treatment system. I am confident that I am not alone. Many are taking up the torch as the new structure of consciousness, originally described by Jean Gebser (1949), breaks through the old, crumbling mental structure with its devastating loss of soul. I am grateful to hold the torch, running forward to exclaim, as Paul Levy (2018) said and I paraphrase, the psychological implications of quantum mechanics should be shouted about from rooftops. Well, I am doing just that.