Growth and development are central constituents of the human experience. Although the American Psychological Association aims to understand change and behavior in ways that embrace all aspects of experience (APA, 2008), sudden, life-altering or quantum transformation has been disregarded throughout the history of psychology until recently (see Miller & C' de Baca, 1994, 2001). Quantum transformation is similar to self-surrender conversion (James, 1902), but different from peak experiences (Maslow, 1964) and near death experiences (Lorimer, 1990) because quantum transformation, by definition, involves lasting change. Quantum transformation contains epistemic qualities, which refer to the content and process of knowing (Miller & C' de Baca, 2001), but little is known about these qualities. The current study employed a qualitative method to better understand the epistemic qualities of quantum transformation. Fourteen participants were extensively interviewed about their experience. Analysis involved hermeneutic methods (Kvale, 1996) and phenomenological description (Giorgi & Giorgi, 2003). Quantum transformation is essentially a process of knowing that unfolded in the form of Disintegration, Insight, and Integration in the present study. First, Disintegration is presented by themes of Overwhelming stress, Relational struggle, Hopelessness, Holding-on, Control, Psychological turmoil, Self-discrepancy, and Guilt. Second, Insight is presented by the Content and Tacit knowing of the experience. Third, Integration is presented by Changes in values, Other-orientation, and A process of development. The results suggest that the disintegration and the suffering that characterizes the pre-transformation milieu inform how quantum transformation relates to lasting change. Therapists that automatically aim to alleviate moral-emotional sorrow or guilt should consider whether the emotional experience can bring about positive transformation. Overall, quantum transformation has potentially major implications for our understanding of personality change and moral development.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





change, growth, development, transformation, conversion, quantum change, discontinuous, instantaneous, nonlinear, insight, epistemology, epistemic, knowledge, knowing, meaning, qualitative, qualitative methods, peak experience, near death experience



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Psychology Commons