- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Updated edition (January 26, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 014312837X
- ISBN-13: 978-0143128373
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 566 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity Updated Edition
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#1 Globe and Mail Nonfiction Bestseller
#1 Toronto Star Nonfiction Bestseller
Praise for The Brain’s Way of Healing
“Brilliant and highly original. Neurology used to be considered a depressing discipline with patients often displaying fascinating but essentially untreatable symptoms and disabilities. Drawing on the last three decades of research, Doidge challenges this view, using vivid portraits of patients and their physicians. The book is a treasure trove of the author’s own deep insights and a clear bright light of optimism shines through every page.”
—V. S. Ramachandran, MD, PhD, neurologist, neuroscientist, and author of The Tell-Tale Brain (W. W. Norton, 2011), Director, UCSD Center for Brain and Cognition
“A tour de force. In one of the most riveting books on the human brain and its mystery powers ever written, Doidge addresses the role of alternative medical therapies to reset and re-sync the dynamic patterns of ‘energy in our brain, whit the ability to restore relatively normal health to those whose fate seems hopeless. . . . These are people that traditional medicine all but abandoned as . . . untreatable. But they were rescued. . . . It’s possible to start anywhere in the book and be mesmerized.”
“An exciting overview of powerful new neuroscience theories that connect mind, body, and soul . . . In this age of distraction and unnatural environments and actions—like staring at screens all day—brain science offers all kinds of useful techniques to care for our infinitely complex selves. Norman Doidge’s work is a Michelin Guide to this hopeful new trove of knowledge and insight.”
—Boston Globe, USA
“Stunning . . . The Brain’s Way of Healing is another groundbreaking book by Norman Doidge. His style keeps you going into the deep dark secrets of how the brain works. . . . [H]is reframing of remarkable treatments that I had categorized as gimmicky left me fascinated and humbled. He brings a whole new level of insight into the body, brain, mind connection that will impact any reader.”
— John J. Ratey, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and author of Driven to Distraction
“Bold, remarkable . . . paradigm challenging. The Brain’s Way of Healing is brilliantly organized, scientifically documented, and a beautifully written narrative that captivates the reader, who is left with the profound message that the brain, similar to other organs, can heal.”
—Stephen W. Porges, PhD, Indiana University Bloomington and author of The Polyvagal Theory
“Doidge’s book is filled with compelling stories about the power of ingenious technologies and disciplined awareness methods generated by innovators who transcended their own brain challenges, and who now use them to help others make radical improvements in conditions often deemed hopeless. It points to a future of remarkable and unprecedented brain healing.”
—Martha Herbert, MD, PhD, Neurologist, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital, author of The Autism Revolution
“The Brain’s way of Healing is a stunner—the sort of book you want to read several times, not because it is difficult to understand, but because it opens up so many novel and startling avenues into our potential to heal. Norman Doidge enthralls us with a rich combination of lucidly explained brain research and pioneering new (and some not so new, but not widely known) approaches to recovery. With an eloquence reminiscent of Oliver Sacks, Doidge bolsters the latest advances in brain science with a series of extraordinary case histories of people for whom all hope seemed to be lost, but who healed as a result of great personal courage, and by changing the ways their bodies and brains processed sensations and movement. This hopeful book demonstrates that a variety of sensory inputs—light, sound, electricity, vibration, movement, and thought—can awaken the brain’s attention processors, and thereby allow even the most afflicted to (re)gain ownership of their lives.
—Bessel van der Kolk MD, Medical Director, the Trauma Center, Brookline MA; Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine; Author of The Body keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the healing of Trauma
“The book offers real hope to individuals suffering from diverse chronic conditions. It shows in terms of graphic personal stories that we truly do not yet know the limits of what is possible in rehabilitation. The book also has a number of creative integrations of the data that will be of interest to neuroscientists.”
—Edward Taub, Ph.D., Behavioral Neuroscientist, University Professor,University of Alabama at Birmingham, Director, UAB CI Therapy Research Group and Taub Training Clinic
“Everyone who has a brain could benefit from reading Doidge’s book.”
—The Columbus Dispatch
“A vivid, robust and optimistic read . . . an essential addition to our growing understanding of the mind-brain-body connection. Doidge argues quite convincingly that when the brain is damaged or incompletely formed, whether from stroke, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, autism, ADHD or a host of other conditions, it’s entirely possible to “rewire” the circuits by training a different part of the brain to take over the task. . . . He's positively elegant in his crystalline explanations of brain science for a lay audience.”
—Toronto Star, Canada
“This is a book of miracles: an absorbing compendium of unlikely recoveries from physical and mental ailments offers evidence that the brain can heal. Fascinating . . . brings to mind Oliver Sacks.”
“Dazzling . . . In friendly vignettes reminiscent of Oliver Sacks’s case studies, Doidge chronicles the heroic efforts of patients with a wide variety of apparently intractable ailments, from chronic pain to multiple sclerosis. . . . Each of Doidge’s examples suggests tangible treatment ideas for patients who may have thought they were out of options. Doidge’s penchant for considering unconventional approaches to healing offers hope for all.”
“Beautifully written . . . inspiring . . . merging scientific information into timeless and fascinating personal stories . . . The Brain's Way of Healing grabs onto the reader at once and compels them to keep reading. This is an important and encouraging book.”
—The Vancouver Sun, Canada
“Exhilarating science . . . In an era of ever-increasing medicalisation of the human mind, and the medication of it, the appeal of neuroplasticity outlined by Doidge is addictive. It is inspiring, page-turning stuff.”
—Sunday Times, London
“A fascinating study on brain science that shows the way to major therapeutic discoveries.”
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Norman Doidge, M.D., is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He is on the research faculty at Columbia University’s Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research in New York City and on the faculty of the University of Toronto’s department of psychiatry. His last book, The Brain that Changes Itself, was a New York Times bestseller with more than a million copies sold. He lives in Toronto.
Top customer reviews
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My life is an example of neuroplasticity. I was 40 when I found out about the Tomatis Method, described in Chapter 8 of Dr. Doidge's book. I had never graduated college. I was born with a cleft palate, had speech therapy, and was developmentally slow. I was a traumatized child based on my childhood experiences. In my early 20s, I had cancer and was treated with chemotherapy and radiation at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In my mid-30s, I married a wonderful woman from the Philippines whom I met in the States. She was a doctor, and she did not care that I was less accomplished career-wise. It was her sudden death via car accident that plunged me into a phase that I could not pull out of. I was like an old fashioned record player where the needle got stuck in a groove. I traveled to the Listening Centre in Toronto, Canada in 2003. This is the same centre that Dr. Doidge talks about in his book. After doing Tomatis, the needle lifted, I wanted to live again, and I returned to college and finished a degree program within three years after completing my initial treatment. It's important that I share that none of this happened overnight, and mine was not a one-time, cure all treatment. I have received Tomatis sound boosts over the years. The point remains, I went from a phase where I was not functioning to one where I was renewed and not only got back on my feet, but accomplished a task - finishing a 4-year university program - that I had been unable to do at an earlier age.
I'd recommend Dr. Doidge's book to anyone. It's well researched and well written, and I feel for those in pain who might think his tone is too positive and optimistic. In the beginning, we have to allow a crack of optimism to break through. We are fortunate to live in an age where alternative therapies are already established and neuroplasticity is acknowledged. Mine is among the many stories of people getting help where they previously felt helpless. We know what we know, and what's difficult to acknowlege is our ignorance. I'd hope that readers of Dr. Doidge's book consider if any of the therapies he describes so well might help themselves or others. Norman Doidge's book is a welcome sign of the times, a beacon of light and hope that gives these alternative therapies the respect and consideration that they deserve.
Doidge artfully draws us in with people's stories, including the experiences of Dr. Michael Moskowitz, a chronic pain specialist who figured out a way to cure his own increasingly debilitating chronic pain after 13 years (chapter 1). He has also successfully taught the technique to some of his patients. In chapter 2, Doidge walks with John Pepper, a World War II survivor with Parkinson's disease who devised a program that enabled him to recover lost mobility and other functions. Pepper uses his approach not only to keep many of his symptoms at bay decades after diagnosis, he has also taught it to others with Parkinson's, who have also improved. More amazing stories and treatment approaches follow in each chapter and the case studies highlight this new paradigm. The research starts to explain the ever-elusive, until now, "why."
In easy-to-read connecting language Doidge gives us a framework for understanding what is happening during these transformations. He, and the studies he cites throughout, take us beyond our current understanding of the brain.
The principles of brain plasticity presented by Doidge can be summarized as follows (chapter 3):
Events such as strokes, infections, head injuries, radiation, toxins and degenerative processes cause brain injury and affect our neurons. While some neurons die following such events, the new science is showing us that some neurons start to signal in irregular ways following injury, which can make the brain "noisy" and confused. Other neurons become dormant (referred to as "non-use"). Improvement is based on the extent to which these neurons can heal, rewire, and recover from changes in function.
Doidge presents 4 stages of neuroplastic healing, which gives us new ways of understanding how recovery occurs. Neurostimulation (1) is commonly needed and can occur through attention to internal processes (such as mindful attention to sensations and movement, and intentional focusing of the mind on specific tasks) as well as through external input (such as from sound, light, and vibration). The energy provided by neurostimulation enables the brain to repair communication pathways and regain its innate capacity to regulate or "modulate" itself. The modulated brain (2) regains its ability to cycle, alternating from periods of activity to periods of rest and repair. Modulation allows the brain to relax, rest and heal (3). A rested brain is able to learn and rewire (4). Learning new skills allows a person to restore old functions or develop new ones and is a process referred to as neurodifferentiation.
The process of healing, and the extent to which recovery is possible, differs for everyone. Each person, as well as the events leading to symptoms, is unique. Not everyone needs to address all 4 stages of neuroplastic healing for improvement or recovery to occur. Some people experience significant or even full recovery after strokes and brain injuries. Others, such as people described who have Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis, can use tools to regain function and manage their diseases even though they do not achieve a cure or reversal of the underlying disease process. Some people presented have recovered fully from autoimmune-induced blindness, dyslexia, sensory integration problems, and serious debilitating developmental delays (each detailed through case studies in later book chapters). With some symptoms and chronic diseases, people need to keep using their tools to maintain their gains but can also recover again after periods of discontinuation. With other symptoms, such as Dr. Moskowitz's work with chronic pain, the techniques can be discontinued once symptoms resolve.
The amount of time and effort involved in using these techniques varies. Recovery from strokes, when new neuronal pathways need to be developed, can take months or years. At the other extreme, recovery from chronic symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) began for two women within hours of initial treatment. In this setting, neurostimulation energized neurons to better modulate, allowing them to begin to communicate more effectively almost immediately. In these two cases, functions that had been interrupted rather than destroyed were restored.
We are at the frontier of a paradigm shift. The seemingly miraculous changes described here are beginning to reveal their secrets and Doidge does a masterful job of giving us the tools to begin to explore these new dimensions to whatever extent we may want. (Doidge's website has a FAQ with links to resources).
He addresses the lay reader without pretension and with great enthusiasm for the people and treatments he describes.
I fell in love with Feldenkrais again after reading about it in The Brain's Way of Healing, learning new things about a modality that I thought I was familiar with.
I teach religion classes and love bringing ideas from the treatments in this book into the discussion.
The Brain's Way of Healing deserves a better review than mine (it's late and I'm too tired to do this review justice) but I want to post this before I forget. If you have an interest in medicine, healing, psychology, psychiatry, spirituality, sound, light, movement, physics, disabilities, TBI, or compelling personal stories, get this book. It is impossible to put down.
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