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Sep 2014 by PCI College

Bite-Sized Book Review: The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge

For this week's book review is by PCI College Lecturer Louise Brennan-Moroni, who reviews 'The Brain that Changes Itself' by Norman Doidge

'The Brain That Changes Itself - Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science' was written by Canadian born psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr Norman Doidge. The book was first published in 2007 and was the bestselling science book in 2008. So far it has already been translated into 18 different languages.

In his book Doidge, an eminent researcher and psychiatrist presents examples and case studies of patients who have made remarkable recoveries from brain injuries. Doidge travelled far and wide to meet with the scientists who were working on the cutting edge of what he refers to as ‘neuroplasticity’ as well as also meeting those whose lives have been transformed by it.

This idea of Neuroplasticity calls into question the classical scientific concept of the brain as being a hardwired system of pathways which are fixed and so ‘ought’ not to be curable. Doidge presents many cases such as that of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itsself in such a way that it functioned as a whole brain; children born with cerebral palsy who learn to move with more grace; depression and anxiety disorders successfully treated, and lifelong character traits changed. All of these transformations are made possible by the brains plasticity or ability to change and reorganise itself. Reading this from a psychotherapeutic perspective it gives great depth to and understanding of the cognitive behavioural approaches to counselling and psychotherapy and its effectiveness not just as a ‘quick fix’ approach to working with maladaptive behaviours.

In a New York Times report it was stated that this book straddles the gap between ‘the science and self-help aisle’ in bookstores.

Louise Brennan-Moroni MIAHIP (September 2014)
PCI College Lecturer & PCI Counselling Service Coordinator

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