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The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force Paperback – 3 Jun 2004

3.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (3 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060988479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060988470
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 261,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"A daring rescue of the concept of the free human will."

"Fascinating . . . Schwartz and Begley excel at spreading enthusiasm for science by forging scintillating concepts out of difficult ideas."

About the Author

Jeffrey M. Schwartz M.D. is an internationally-recognized authority on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and is the author of the bestseller Brain Lock. He is a Research Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine.

Award-winning writer Sharon Begley is the science columnist for the Wall Street Journal; before that she was senior science writer for Newsweek. She lives in Pelham New York.


Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Coming at this from the perspective of someone who has studied philosophy and NLP and is fascinated by the brain's potential to help itself, I found this book quite the page turner. Ignoring any new-age stuff, the fact is there is plenty of evidence that the brain has the capacity throughout our lives to re-wire and re-programme itself according to the environment and need. It is saying we don't have to accept whatever we're dealing with, we can address it and re-programme our brain not just passively by thinking differently everytime we encounter a problem, but actively by doing that to the point where we can re-programme ourselves to respond differently automatically -- and the evidence is on the fMRI's, PET scans and whatever else you care to scan a working brain with. The section on vivisection was unpleasant reading, but what the experiments revealed about the extraordinary 3 pounds or so of matter in the skull is astonishing. I didn't see anything that decided once and for all the philosophical questions as to the matter of mind-brain identity, but to be honest I didn't care. I got plenty out of this book without that. Remove that claim and just focus on what the book is essentially about -- the brain's capacity to adapt -- and it's a worthwhile read.
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The Mind & The Brain: Neuroplasticity and the power of mental force, by Jeffrey M. Schwartz, M.D. and Sharon Begley, Harper Perennial, 2002, 432 ff

The power of the mind to structure the brain
By Howard Jones

This is an account of how patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder were able to be guided through treating themselves by reconditioning of the brain. Dr Schwartz is a Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and his co-author, Sharon Begley, is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. As well as describing clinical case studies, the book provides a suggested mechanism of action for mind-brain influence through quantum phenomena, as shared with the authors by quantum physicist Henry Stapp. The treatment and explanations Schwartz offers are also imbued with a fair measure of Buddhist philosophy. The calming effects on breathing, heart rate and blood pressure of meditative techniques have been known for thousands of years to eastern mystics and are used regularly in complementary therapies.

For the past two decades at least, books have been appearing to refute the idea that mind or consciousness is merely the name we give to brain function. This was the old materialist view in science that mind described brain function just as digestion describes the operation of the gut. However, there are now several books by physicians and psychiatrists that describe how patients can take conscious steps to improve their health by controlling brain and body function: books by Hamilton, Hay, Dyer, Dossey, Benson and Tart spring to mind.

Here, Schwartz describes how he teaches his OCD patients the practice of mindful awareness, which he describes as the foundation of Theravada Buddhism.
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Its basically a book on buddhism with a bit of science mixed in, if you dont care for new-age or buddhism then maybe look elsewhere.
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As a successful clinician I have 'known' for some time that my own optimism affects patient recovery. 'The Mind & The Brain' is a must read for all those people seeking enlightenment in the area of the New Biology... it makes scientific sense of all those everyday phases that we use like..
'Sit up and listen' or 'Use it or loose it' or 'mind over matter'.
If we only realised that our thoughts, words and deeds become literal manifestations in OUR lives we would be careful what we thought, said and did! I read this book with much relish and relief.
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delivers less than it promises. Doidge's book more illuminating. Schwartz allows belief in Buddhism to confuse the science too much. Way too much detail on the suffering of monkeys in the cause of neuroscience and the development of Constraint-Based Therapy. Despite the book's concern with morality, there's seemingly no consideration of the moral issues of cutting the nerves in the monkeys' arms and - surprise surprise - discovering they can no longer feel nor use them..

Chapter on the quantum brain profoundly disappointing. Speculative, hazy evidence, no apparent practical value. Seemed to me to conflate and confuse moral philosophy (an esoteric version of Buddhism?) with a vague, poorly presented understanding of Quantum physics (a topic that not even physicists can explain consistently) I got more from just the first chapter of Feynman's QED. there was no clear (to me) theory on how quantum physics might explain neuro-plasticity, mindfulness, or how it might inform new treatments or explain "mental force". Very disappointing and of little value to a stroke survivor like me interested in self-directed rehab, to augment the invaluable help from my physio
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So much in one book! A cure for OCD, a link between Buddhism ans Western science, and many graphic descriptions of animal experiments that will jog anyone's conscience (anyone for sewing up a kitten's eyelid?). Oh and quantum physics also for good measure

So - for me at least - not exactly a page turner - had to ration myself to morning reads when my own brain was sharpest - but full of stimulating propositions. Please read!
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