Psychoanalysis is Quantum Mechanics

I use the metaphor Psychoanalysis is Quantum Mechanics as a linguistic means to convey to you my comprehension of PSA (psychoanalysis) is somewhat based upon my comprehension of QM (quantum mechanics). This is not to say that I know a lot about either of these domains of knowledge but that I think that you may know more about QM than you do about PSA. The linguistic metaphor and the conceptual metaphor are the means that we humans have for comprehending the “unknown” based upon our comprehension of the “known”.

The physicist is a scientist studying the inner reality of the atom and the psychoanalyst is a scientist studying the inner reality of our psyche. The inner reality of the atom is “weird” to our day-to-day comprehension of reality just as the inner reality of the psyche is also “weird” to our day-to-day comprehension of reality.

Richard Feynman, now deceased, was a theoretical physicist and professor of physics at MIT gave to his students the following description of what physics is all about:

“We can imagine that this complicated array of moving things which constitutes “the world” is something like a great chess game being played by the gods, and we are observers of the game. We do not know what the rules of the game are; all we are allowed to do is to watch the playing. Of course, if we watch long enough, we may eventually catch on to a few of the rules. The rules of the game are what we mean by fundamental physics. Even if we know every rule, however…what we really can explain in terms of those rules is very limited, because almost all situations are so enormously complicated that we cannot follow the plays of the game using the rules, much less tell what is going to happen next. We must, therefore, limit ourselves to the more basic question of the rules of the game. If we know the rules, we consider that we “understand” the world.”

The natural sciences, especially physics, have been very successful at learning the rules of the game. Our didactic (teaching by telling) educational system has been very successful at teaching these rules to their students. The students have been very successful at using these rules and the algorithms and paradigms developed from these rules in developing the high tech economy that we have.

I claim that, metaphorically speaking, Otto Rank is Richard Feynman.

Alois Riegl’s major work in art history Historical Grammar of the Visual Arts foreshadowed the direction that contemporary art history was to take. Riegl was a major figure for establishing art history as a self-sufficient university study as a means for understanding art.

Riegl’s concept of “art-will” contains a strong psychological element that dictates a focus upon the personality of the creative artist. The study of the growth of personality sponsored by the creative individual will is Otto Rank’s major contribution to psychoanalysis.

The individual will means the freedom of choice; with that will comes ethical responsibility and guilt, the footprint of freedom. Will psychology introduced by Rank represents the birth of individuality as it manifests it self in civilization and the accompanying art, literature, music, science, and the possibility of immortality. Rollo May, a well known exponent of existential psychotherapy was deeply influenced by Rank and commented “I have long considered Otto Rank to be the great unacknowledged genius in Freud’s circle”.

If you would like to learn more about Otto Rank's theory, his most important works are Art and Artist, Truth and Reality, and Will Therapy.

“The rules of the game are what we mean by fundamental physics.” This is Richard Feynman speaking and is quoted in his most remarkable book QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter.

This book is a masterful exposition by a master teacher and scientist of quantum mechanics; aimed not at teaching students to do calculations, but at teaching them to understand what's going on behind calculations. Reading this book helps students avoid "a false sophistication which emphasizes technique rather than understanding." Most important, in my estimation, is that it is a book that any lay person can read, understand and enjoy. It will give the rugged individual--undaunted by preconceived notions--an opportunity to appreciate the mysteries and marvels of modern physics.

Feynman, in my opinion as well as many others, is a master scientist, wonderful human being, and most of all a master teacher.

There is a layering quality in book publishing that works marvelously for the lay reader. Such individuals as Kant, Einstein, and Darwin write books explaining their original thoughts. A second layer of authors condense and clarify the thoughts of these original thinkers into a form more accessible to the learning student seeking to join the ranks of the experts. Then there is a third level where a person with fine writing skills takes this material and writes a book that is accurate, polished, and readable for the person looking to understand the general aspects of a domain of knowledge without too many complications.

Richard Feynman is one of those rare creatures who fit all three levels of authorship. Most important to us, who wish to understand without too many complications, Feynman has written a book “QED”, which makes it possible for us to accomplish this task with much pleasure and awe.