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The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force Paperback – October 14, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
After some research on the internet I decided to do what William James and Abraham Maslow did and "act as if" I had free will, and see if I got the same extraordinary results they did (both had been depressed determinists and were "cured" once they gave free will an active try). I still wanted intellectual confirmation though, and I came across this book at the bookstore and bought it on a hunch.
This book has blown my mind. Schwartz' cognitive-therapy work with obsessive-compulsive patients leads us to ask the question, "How is it that a strictly mental process can result in measurable brain changes as shown on PET scans?" Is it caused by another part of the brain? Even if it is, that just postpones the question, because what caused that part of the brain to be any different this time? He makes the case that conscious experience isn't reduceable to anything more fundamental -- try having a colorblind researcher truly understand the color "red" by tracing physical and chemical changes in the brain. Combine that with the fact in quantum mechanics that observation affects which reality it is that shows up, and he proposes a kind of fundamental "mental force" and does a much better job of explaining it than I've done here.Read more ›
- The descriptions of experiments on the brain are fascinating. So are the descriptions of experiments in quanta mechanics and the resulting paradoxes.
- I find the conclusions regarding the brain's ability to rewire itself quite inspiring.
- I also find very interesting the idea that Buddhist meditation may be driving neuroplastic changes; it is implied that this physiological change--unbeknownst to the practitioner--is what is actually gained through meditation.
- I admire authors' drive to bring science to questions regarding sentience, although it isn't clear how successful they are; as others have said, taking the evidence provided to the conclusions provided requires a leap of faith. In any case, it's a start from which others may build.
On the flip side:
- I found myself reading reworded versions of the same idea over and over. It was as if the authors were themselves trying to rewire the reader's brain through repetitive exercises. Unfortunately, this makes the reader lose attention, thus undermining this goal.
- There is a lot of text that attempts to add a human interest perspective. Maybe this was considered important to the commercial appeal the book. But, for this reader, it only diluted the value.
- As mentioned by many others, the authors do not provide convincing evidence to support their conclusions on free will. For example, the authors provide very interesting details about quanta mechanics and the evidence that the universe is not deterministic.Read more ›
He then goes on to discuss the topic of neuroplasticity citing the case of the Silver Springs monkeys. You get a nice history lesson in addition to a summary of some hard won facts about the brain. He also gives plenty of examples of neuroplasticity in humans. He uses this as the physical basis of his own stylized treatment for OCD. His treatment is based on the concept of a mental force (a nebulous concept if there ever was one) that is able to change the brain through the principles of quantum mechanics. He devotes the rest of his book to discussing the quantum mind as well as some implications of the theory as it applies to consciousness.
It is the last third of the book that attempts to explain the concept of a mental force that interacts with the physical substance of the brain (through quantum mechanics) to ultimately produce behavior. The problem as I see it, is that Schwartz believes that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, in that it is more than the sum of its mere physical parts. He seems to be unable to accept the idea that our mental lives are reducible entirely to physical processes. Many of Schwartz's conclusions in this book are based on his a priori assumption that the mind is more than the brain.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Neuroplasticity: Changing the physical brain by using the mind itself. Rewiring the brain by conscious activity. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Elwood D. Baas
I found the science in this book to be accessible and clearly explained. I especially appreciate the restoration of the moral dimension of human action through the understanding of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jack B. Hughes
I really hated this book. Couldn't finish it. It's written in a very atheistic, unenlightened, cold, ignorant scientific manner.Published 4 months ago by A Friendly Voice
The book 'THE MIND AND THE BRAIN' (2002) by Jeffrey M. Schwartz MD of UCLA College of Medicine and Sharon Begley, Science Columnist of Wall Street Journal, describes the duality of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Joseph Ponnoly
Meh. I think that this book is too author-centric. Too much about his travels, who he knows, and what he has done. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Nyasha
Excellent insight on OCD and schizophrenia and can directed will improve outcome for people with these disorders.Published 6 months ago by J. Ippolito
Some part were very interesting to me and others parts seemed to drag and be overload with technical jargon.Published 12 months ago by Kenneth W.