“The Brain’s Way of Healing”
By Norman Doidge, M.D.
Viking, Penguin Group
New York, N.Y., 2015
Cutting edge information included in book about brain
Reviewed by Kerry Morrison, Psy.D.
Scientists have recently documented that the brain is plastic. Neuroplasticity is a property of the brain that enables it to change its own structure in response to activity and mental experience, according to the book’s author, Norman Doidge.
Brain cells are constantly communicating with each other electrically to form and reform connections. This process is a unique pathway for healing brain injuries and conditions thought to be permanent and untreatable.
This view is a groundbreaking concept as 400 years of mainstream thinking has told us that the brain could not be changed. The cases cited in this book are of patients who were told they would never get better, but through visualization, light, movement, music, energy and the mind itself, did improve and healed.
The book cites cases such as chronic pain, Parkinsonian symptoms, Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Attention Deficit Disorder and others.
Doidge’s current volume reminds me of an updated version of Oliver Sack’s work in neurology working with patients who others have deemed beyond help.
Speakers at recent conferences I have attended have recommended “The Brain’s Way of Healing,” and it has been a book on my short list to read for a while.
Although the text is fairly dense, I found it easy to read as the author makes difficult concepts accessible. Each chapter has interesting information and case examples that bring things to life.
The case of the woman with chronic pain in chapter one, I found especially interesting, as I work with many clients with chronic, unremitting pain. The chapter describes the work of Michael Moskowitz, M.D., who himself suffered from chronic pain and was able to treat himself by re-wiring the brain and, in effect, weakening the pain path circuit through visual activity to overpower pain.
He then went on to treat chronic pain patients through brain mapping the area and showing them pictures of the brain in-pain and a brain-not-in-pain. Through practiced visualizations the circuits of chronic pain can be unlearned. The remarkable work he did with the case cited led me to search for Moskowitz’s co-authored book, “Neuroplastic Transformation Workbook” which I will purchase and use in my clinical practice.
Doidge’s book is one that I will likely refer to again and again. I will recommend it to practitioners and students as it has very current, cutting edge information on how to understand and treat difficult symptoms. It also made me want to read Doidge’s first book, “The Brain that Changes Itself.”
Kerry Morrison, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Greenfield, Mass., who also consults, teaches and provides training on mental health topics.