Dissertation Chapter One: Introduction

by Sep 8, 2020Consciousness

Resolving the Missing Link Within Eating Disorder Treatment:

Bringing the Science of Physics, Cosmology, and Consciousness Inquiry Toward a New Era in Mental Health.


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 bring it through the front doors of the clinical treatment of disordered eating.  Finally, the new science of physics, consciousness and cosmology is brought to interface with the mental health field, through the portal of disordered eating here in this paper.  My longstanding professional history in the treatment and theoretical discourse of eating and exercise disorders has provided me a trial forum to explore what I believe is the missing link in clinical treatment: a scientific and philosophical inquiry about the nature of 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 this 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.  I work to ground the complexity of this new science to provide answers toward our human pervasive inquiry about who and what we are, as human beings.  The physics of the last century reorganizes our scientific understanding about the very nature of reality, a topic that I bring directly into the clinical field 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 are the Emergence Courses, designed as a scientific philosophical adjunct to standard eating disorder treatment methods, expanding mental health treatment toward a grounded existential genre. 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. 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, one that breaks through the limits of standard psychotherapy. This work is meant as an adjunct to eating disorder recovery endeavors, which are long overdue for a science based philosophical 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 our current day 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 presented in the Emergence courses 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 epistemological basis of psychological treatment.  The new science epistemology offered here stands to offer an infusion of wonder and meaning in life, as an adjunct to standard psychological practices.  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 a more general field of 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, 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 many related inquiry processes to standard mental health treatment, filling a philosophical void in mental health treatment. 

I wish to acknowledge that the professionals treating disordered eating are already overwhelmed by the level of suffering in patients through the complexities of the disorders and the many coexisting and related problems such as addiction, anxiety and depression. I see that 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, as a product of the many hundreds, if not thousands of years of deep psychological disruption, as descendants of those who suffered deeply from the rise patriarchal power dominance, severe racial inequality and atrocities, poverty and food insecurity, generational child abuse and the industrial revolution separating us from our ecological home. From my own perspective on life, it appears that those who have come before us have not had the time, resources, or most important the knowledge about attachment and relational skills needed to raise thriving children.  Much progress has been made through the field of psychotherapy, although there is much work to do to reach all of the people who do not have access to treatment. And while I acknowledge the need for better resources and continued evolution of ideas and techniques in the mental health field, the focus of this paper, is more about expanding eating disorder treatment toward the inquiry about the meaning of life, the nature of reality and the implications of the new science that brings fascinating new perspectives about our place, as human beings within the cosmos.  

Mental health treatment has not had the benefit of scientific discoveries about consciousness and physics discoveries of the last century, since many of them needed to trickle down from the original complex mathematics to concepts that they lay individual could grasp. 

Through this paper, I hope to make clearer that the underlying nature of the universe is inseparable from the psyche and consciousness from which our inner life emerges. In other words, I work to show that we as human beings are not separate from an objectifiable cosmos, an idea which can be alienating and anxiety producing.  

The reason that mental health treatment does not tend to include explorations about consciousness is that consciousness has been assumed to simply be an aberrant, chance byproduct of the brain (Combs, 2009).  In other words, the hard problem of consciousness, finding its material source within the cells of our nervous system, has marooned many neuroscientist explorers in no-mans-land.  This paper will help the reader reconceptualize the nature of consciousness as primary (Chopra & Kafatos, 2017; Sabbadini, 2017), meaning that the brain is a product of consciousness instead of it being the other way around. Psychologically speaking, we have more tools to track the contents and 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 will be included in the new paradigm of consciousness, one in which consciousness can be imagined as a mysterious, creative, infinite source of all that is, including our psyches.  I have discovered that the expansive ideas about what consciousness may be, offers great relief to the limited belief systems individuals have with eating disorders, and most mental health problems. 

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 our 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.  I will bring participants along the path of my own initially closeted interest in physics, cosmology, and consciousness.  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.

About the Author

Francie White


Francie White is a theorist and practitioner in the science and art of nutritional psychology as well as a creative force investigating and teaching about philosophies of consciousness. She has a 35 year history at the forefront of treatment for all types of disordered eating, which parallels her abounding interest in the deeper questions about the nature of reality, and the importance of resurrecting wonder within the journey of human life.



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