Although doctors might disagree on this or that cure, they all agreed on one thing: the patient's own consciousness was irrelevant. What mattered was the doctor's ability to manipulate drugs and body parts, much as a mechanic manipulates the parts of a car. It would be a foolish mechanic, indeed, who believed that his or her feelings -- let alone the car's feelings! -- had anything to do with getting the vehicle back on the road. We doctors were considered equally foolish to believe that either our own or the patient's consciousness played any role in the healing process.
But this vision of the body as machine was based on a long-outdated model of the physical world, grounded in the seventeenth-century classical physics proposed by Sir Isaac Newton and supplemented by the mechanistic views of Rene Descartes. [...] To be fair, a great deal of good came out of this mechanistic view. Nevertheless, an overreliance on technology and the mechanistic worldview that created it has led to a medical science that is simply incorrect.
Another limitation in medical science comes from the tradition of basing all medical knowledge on studies of the corpse. Again, dissecting cadavers has led to enormous advances in medical science. But it has also limited our understanding in crucial ways. After all, the human body is not a corpse. The effects of life -- electromagnetic impulses, the impact of muscle movement on our mood, and a thousand other vital signs -- simply cannot be understood by studying dead bodies. [...]
In the participatory universe revealed by quantum physics, our consciousness can actually change the material world -- including our bodies and our state of health.
The notion that consciousness can affect reality was first put forward by nuclear physicist Werner Heisenberg, author of the famous Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The details of Heisenberg's argument are too complicated to go into here; suffice it to say that Heisenberg and many scientists who came after him believed that the very process of observing reality actually transforms that reality. Specifically, Heisenberg demonstrated that there is no way to observe subatomic particles without the very process of observation affecting the particles' behavior.
Heisenberg also argued -- and most modern day physicists agree -- that our observation actually enables us to create new realities. Thus, subatomic particles exist only when we observe them, that our observation of these particles literally brings them into existence!
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