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Home > Archives > Volume 8, No 1 (2010) > Article

DOI: 10.14704/nq.2010.8.1.264

Post‐Classical Phase Transitions and Emergence in Psychiatry: Beyond George Engel's Model of Psychopathology

Donald Mender


This paper explores the flaws underlying Engel's biopsychosocial paradigm of psychiatric illness and offers a quantum‐neurodynamical alternative that addresses these defects. It is argued that the current conceptual foundations of biopsychosocial psychiatry, insofar as they rest upon analogies between neural network theory and classical statistical mechanics, are plagued by tensions and inconsistencies among notions of causation, physical scale, and objectivity. The recent rise of a potentially more adequate post‐classical paradigm, grounding cognitive neuroscience in quantum principles, is described. The possibility is advanced that this developing quantum perspective on mind and brain can transform psychiatry's understanding of mental disorders through an explanatory adequacy and a theoretical coherence superior to Engel's classically limited ideas.


biopsychosocial, Engel, emergence, quantum neurodynamics, phase transitions, psychopathology

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