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This book is all over the place The ideas are very intriguing and worth thinking about, but the execution is very uneven in quality Some chapters such as the one on Schwartz own OCD research are to the point and interesting, others like the last few bring up fascinating ideas, but do not manage to convince me on either their grounds, workings or implications, while yet others are tangential to the subject at best and very distracting such as the Silver Spring monkeys chapter.The introduction of quantum mechanics into the neurosciences was cool and has a lot of potential, but the author was not well versed enough in the topic to truly take me in with his arguments And while I am generally not averse to first person narration in academic settings, I found it not at all well done in this book Most of it was either unnecessary or greatly annoying I think I would have rather read this book in the form of a couple of 30 page, well edited articles instead of a padded 400 page book. Jeffrey Schwartz has written an impassioned argument for the neuroplasticity of the brain, based on his work with OCD patients and his practice of Buddhism I have enormous admiration for anyone who brings together Eastern and Western ideas with skill and thoughtfulness, as Schwartz has done here, but when the work creates a genuine breakthrough in treating mental illness, then the originator deserves the highest possible praise Millions of people suffer tragically from OCD, and the desensitization work of behavioral therapists often borders on the cruel and it s only partly effective Drugs have huge limitations and of course side effects So Schwartz has given humanity a gift by figuring out how to use the Buddhist concept of mindfulness to help people recognize and ultimately reject OCD thoughts, while at the same time making a larger argument about the plasticity of the brain, and the connection between mind and brain A path breaking work. FREE PDF ⚖ The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force ♡ A Groundbreaking Work Of Science That Confirms, For The First Time, The Independent Existence Of The Mind And Demonstrates The Possibilities For Human Control Over The Workings Of The BrainConventional Science Has Long Held The Position That The Mind Is Merely An Illusion, A Side Effect Of Electrochemical Activity In The Physical Brain Now In Paperback, Dr Jeffrey Schwartz And Sharon Begley S Groundbreaking Work, The Mind And The Brain, Argues Exactly The Opposite That The Mind Has A Life Of Its OwnDr Schwartz, A Leading Researcher In Brain Dysfunctions, And Wall Street Journal Science Columnist Sharon Begley Demonstrate That The Human Mind Is An Independent Entity That Can Shape And Control The Functioning Of The Physical Brain Their Work Has Its Basis In Our Emerging Understanding Of Adult Neuroplasticity The Brain S Ability To Be Rewired Not Just In Childhood, But Throughout Life, A Trait Only Recently Established By NeuroscientistsThrough Decades Of Work Treating Patients With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD , Schwartz Made An Extraordinary Finding While Following The Therapy He Developed, His Patients Were Effecting Significant And Lasting Changes In Their Own Neural Pathways It Was A Scientific First By Actively Focusing Their Attention Away From Negative Behaviors And Toward Positive Ones, Schwartz S Patients Were Using Their Minds To Reshape Their Brains And Discovering A Thrilling New Dimension To The Concept Of NeuroplasticityThe Mind And The Brain Follows Schwartz As He Investigates This Newly Discovered Power, Which He Calls Self Directed Neuroplasticity Or, Simply, Mental Force It Describes His Work With Noted Physicist Henry Stapp And Connects The Concept Of Mental Force With The Ancient Practice Of Mindfulness In Buddhist Tradition And It Points To Potential New Applications That Could Transform The Treatment Of Almost Every Variety Of Neurological Dysfunction, From Dyslexia To Stroke And Could Lead To New Strategies To Help Us Harness Our Mental Powers Yet As Wondrous As These Implications Are, Perhaps Even Important Is The Philosophical Dimension Of Schwartz S Work For The Existence Of Mental Force Offers Convincing Scientific Evidence Of Human Free Will, And Thus Of Man S Inherent Capacity For Moral Choice Take one good, or even very good book Stick it in a blender with an awful one and set to puree Well, okay, I m speaking metaphorically here, so don t do that But that at least gives an idea of what I thought of this one The sections of the book related to the author s work with OCD sufferers, his descriptions of similar work on those with Tourette s Syndrome and major depression and his basic narrative of discoveries related to the brain and what has come to be believed related to its flexibility were all superb The man knows his stuff, knows lots of people who know their stuff and knows how to communicate it all to a general audience, though I must admit I he did lose me for a time in his section on Quantum Mechanics Unfortunately, that ain t all there is here And that other stuff is a train wreck, mostl flowing from what I can only call a mission of some sort to disprove Materialism, both scientific and philosophical First, makes no bones about the fact that what he has learned from Swami Dorito Guacamolejam or whoever is at least part of the reason behind this, revealing a rather unfortunate bias Second, there s even a villain of the piece Behaviorism Not that I m any fan of it, but, eh, he ain t Galileo and they ain t the Inquisition, so his over the top stuff here is just silly And as best I can tell, his conclusions don t follow from his facts in other words, Materialism is not disproven Perhaps in need of modification, but not disproven.I was also than a tad irritated at his unwillingness to give a straightforward definition of the term Mind It is in the title, after all But while there are lengthy discussions of brain physiology and function, the Mind seems to pop in and out of the book, usually only after some experiment or other is described that appears to debunk the commonly held materialist theory of XYZ He also switches to the term Will for a while, which is either the same as the mind, a part of the mind or something else that falls outside materialist theory and has little or nothing to do with the mind or brain , it really isn t clear. Truthfully, I didn t have intention of writing a review of this book but considering there s something that might safely be called a debate between the book s apologists on the one side and its adversaries on the other side, I thought I might as well write the review What follows, however, is just a simple advantages disadvantages recapitulation of the book s claims and its internal structure.Disadvantages 1 With all due respect to Schwartz s treating of OCD patients and to the patients themselves, it s a rather mild mental condition in terms of its dangerousness to the patient and his environment, and the social impact on the patient Seligman et al., 2002 , as compared to other mental conditions, such as psychopathy with its instrumental and reactive aggression Blair, 2006 , Autism Spectrum Disorder with its non understanding of emphatical emotions and severe social apprehension Baron Cohen, 1995, 2004, 2013 , or schizophrenia with its plausible delusions and mental disintegration Liberman, 2008 The author extrapolates his treatment of the OCD patients and their improvement, and proclaims that the power of attention, and thus the power of mind, reshapes neural circuitry and cortical maps There are two things fundamentally wrong with his claim First, it doesn t take the said reshaping how would it even look like to mitigate the OCD symptoms Through repetitive exercises, the brain can start functioning adequately but it doesn t change its internal structure Churchland P.S., 1986 Dam sio, 1995 Second, extrapolating data and drawing conclusions from it is something any scientist should be cautious about due to each mental condition s different causes, epidemiology and management, not to mention healthy population s yet another, individual case 2a Mind body mind brain dualism is a concept that deserves a very careful scrutiny If true, that is, if the mind and body were distinct and separable entities, any damage to the brain wouldn t affect the mind which, needless to say, is non physical The reality is quite the opposite Take these two cases as points of reference and further interest Famously described Dam sio, 2005 Blair, 2006 Stanovich, 2009 Baron Cohen, 2011 Phineas Gage, who suffered an accident in which an iron rod punctured through his head and damaged much of his brain s left frontal lobe, exhibited mental changes in his behavior after the accident Another example is of a man, who, due to growing tumors in his brain, exhibited paedophilic tendencies, which vanished after the surgical removal of the tumors Eagleman, 2015 If the mind body dualism was true, such physical conditions wouldn t transcend the non physical nature of the mind 2b Another case against the proposed dualism derives from a biological instance of human development Considering that we begin our existence as purely physical entities and since nothing outside of the physical domain is added later on in the course of our development, then, all in all, we must end up being fully developed physical beings 2c Logic and Occam s razor dictates that if a phenomenon can be explained by existing referential categories, then adding other categories can be considered superfluous 3 Repetitive mentions of quantum physics doesn t make a book scientific It s been shown that making references to physics or mathematics in reality, superficially or needlessly gives a semblance of scholarship Sokal and Bricmont, 1999 but the same quantum physics produces arguments against Schwartz s claims any manifestation of a non physical mind on the brain would entail the violation of physical laws, such as the conservation of energy, since some external source of energy would be responsible for the interaction between the non physical and the physical 4 The Mind and the Brain doesn t observe established methodological standards for writing a book an article That a scientist considers himself a maverick and tries to unravel some mysteries and semi revelatory truths before our eyes, doesn t mean he doesn t have to follow certain creeds of scientific research, especially taking into account that he draws from and writes about multiple fields of human knowledge, such as psychology, sensu largo neuroscience, philosophy, ethics and so forth There are, to be perfectly fair to Schwartz, endnotes at the end of the book, but the phrases there only vaguely refer to certain articles books he draws his assertions from If I were to be mean, I d say Schwartz s blunt references are exactly meant to cause confusion and create ambiguity Insofar as proper references, which are nowhere to be found in the book, psychology books, for instance, follow methodological standards of putting their sources in brackets right behind a sentence they refer to, e.g Schwartz, 2002 Other books legal, for example, which I m most familiar with contain footnotes that make a reference to a particular page of a particular book article In this regard, Schwartz s standards are unique, to say the least There s also an oddity of writing in singular form, which, normally, isn t necessarily desirable, but I ll just blame it on Bagley s apparent minute input that s also why I refer to the book as Schwartz s only in this, I just follow his steps.Advantages 1 There are other books out there. This is an excellent book I learned how people with severe conditions can sometimes overcome the debilitating effects of stroke, OCD, and so on.Toward the end of the book, the author describes how quantum mechanics may be a key component to volition and free will But, I am not completely convinced of the connection with quantum mechanics I understand how the act of observation of an atom can resolve its previously probabilistic state And the analogy between observation and attention is striking But doesn t this just beg the question, what is the mechanism for the mind brain to show attention to something Wonderfully written by a highly experienced researcher Revolutionary thoughts on neuroplasticity that are yet to be fully accepted by the scientific community The wonderful blend of buddhist philosophy with deep knowledge of neuroscience is what has been established here The pragmatic four step concept with the critical idea of mental force is highly applicable and strongly scientific to overcome habits that one is willing to change A beautiful chapter on Free Will and Free Won t that presents wonderful ideas that were highly convincing His great collaboration with Henry Stapp, the quantum physicist, and their reflections on the ideas of William James is spectacular A book I highly recommend. I quite enjoyed this book and its exploration of the relationship between mind, brain and quantum mechanics It highlights the importance of attention and concentration in, for instance, acquiring a new skill or remapping faulty brain patterns I would recommend this book as a sequel to The Brain that Changes Itself it is technical than the former book and delves deeper into brain structure I wish that the author had dwelled on how meditation and buddhism can help in overcoming mental health issues and how it can help rewire our plastic brains Though in the beginning it sounded as though it would focus on meditation, there was only a brief overview of this near the end At times, I also found the book to be a little long winded and repetitive the author, obviously trying to revolutionize a field and make his argument as strong as possible, quotes supporting data and findings at great length As a reader, this can get a little tedious What I did enjoy was the history the author provides of past scientific discoveries and the worldview of materialism that has dominated science until now, that is, when mind brain discoveries are shifting our understanding of the world.For anyone interested in the brain, and particularly in mind brain issues, this is a great read. Horrible, pseudo science, pathetic, psychobabble, nonsensical, just plain wrong and really badly written If you would like some junk science nonsense to spout whilst downing canapes at a dinner party, then this book is for you But I m warning you that someone will overhear you and think, a la Woody Allen in Annie Hall, Jesus, make this person shut up He doesn t know what he s talking about To the author mental force some of you may have heard this same idea called soul or mind or free will or countless other things people create when we haven t figured it out just yet is bigger than the possibilities created by the plasticity of our wonderful brains He is a fool.I m back My friend says I have to say why all of the above Mostly b c the entire book is based on a faulty and unsupported premise Also because the authors ignore the very plasticity they mention in their title in favor of their magical thinking The reality is that we do not know how our minds actually relate to our brains, but there is some power in exercising those brains When we think positively or negatively, when we act purposefully or automatically, when we USE our brains, they do in fact change a bit Ask anyone who has ever had any sort of brain injury Do it repeatedly and you can even learn things You can feel differently by thinking differently ask your favorite cognitive psychologist This is nothing new It s wrapped up in a bow w nonsense filling the package, but it s just plain wrong I believe that the actual process works, but I don t believe for a minute that the authors explain why. This book is extremely informative in many aspects of the physical and mental processes of the brain and mind Although Dr Schwartz emphasized that the intent of his experiments, understandings and knowledge was to understand obsessive compulsive disorder in the brain, he includes examples of experiments and findings that reach other scopes of psychology and neurology Dr Schwartz devotes a chapter to the basic explanation of the literal topography of the brain itself, touching on different processes of various areas This was helpful to understand what exactly, can be changed and how it is changed through neuroplasticity And through neuroplasticity and the power of mental force, the mind, or attention, or awareness can literally CHANGE the physiology of the brain structure itself In his words, mental force is directed, willed mental activity can clearly and systematically alter brain function that the exertion of willful effort generates a physical force that has the power to change how the brain works and even its physical structure Meditation is quickly becoming popular in today s society In my own life, I have been encouraged to learn mindful meditation to guide me through the stress of life When Dr Schwartz touches on the Buddhist bare awareness concept of meditation, I found an increased understanding to how I may learn to acknowledge feelings, sensations, sounds, perceptions, etc without letting them affect me I observe them as an outsider, one standing on the sidelines looking upon my own thoughts and feelings without engaging in them In the chapter Network Remodeling, Dr Schwartz asks a question that particularly piqued my interest How, then, to apply mindfulness to depression This is one state to which I fall victim too easily depression He explains three ways to address this, but the third option impressed me the most Speaking of mindful experience being in this way of thinking about your emotions, you sense feelings, sensations, and thoughts from the perspective of the Impartial Spectator You regard your thoughts and feelings as passing, ephemeral mental events rather than as accurate reflections of reality Instead of reacting to negative thoughts and feelings as these are me, you come to regard them as events in the mind that can be considered and examined You recognize that thoughts are not factsbut are instead events that come and go through the mind pg 248The chapter on The Quantum Brain was difficult for me to grasp in that it was almost completely quantum physics I was not particularly proficient at classic physics to say the least Briefly, he explains that if we utilize only classic physics, or materialism, to define the brain mind, it comes up short It basically negates the existence of mind or will altogether One problem with this, is if we don t actually have a will, then we can t take responsibility for our actions because they are only resulting from the neurological processes of the brain We can see that this would have grave judicial implications There is no right and wrong i.e I can steal my neighbor s car because my brain made me do it Again, in the words of Dr Schwartz I began lamenting the terrible social consequences of materialismthe moral condition of Americacould be laid at the feet of nearly three centuries of materialist ascendance The reigning belief that the thoughts we think and the choices we make reflect the deterministic workings of neurons and, ultimately subatomic particles seemed to me to have subverted mankind s sense of morality The view that people are mere machines and that the mind is just another not particularly special manifestation of a clockwork physical universe had infiltrated all our thinking whether or not someone knew a synapse from an axon pg 257 258Quantum mechanics is based on observation Integral to quantum physics is the fundamental role played by the observer in choosing which of the plenitude of possible realities will leave the realm of the possible and become actual there is no is until an observer makes an observation pg 263 He describes the double slit experiment and the collapse of the wave function in observation Before the observation, the system had a range of possibilities, afterward, it has a single actuality This is the infamous collapse of the wave function pg 269I won t dwell much on the actual physics explained in this chapter, though Dr Schwartz does a fabulous job of helping a lay person like me attempt and partially succeed in understanding My main interest was how all of this physics relates to the mind and brain His last two chapters are dedicated to free will and to attention We actually have the will, and ability to experience our own thoughts These thoughts can be turned into actions, whether it be sensations, reactions to an event, etc This is completely up to our choices Before we act, there is a wave of possibilitieswe can be angry, we can be hurt, we may cryif we choose to We can focus our attention on what we choose to experience Once we continually choose to think a certain way, it becomes easier and with continual willful attention paid to the chosen thought or experience, the actual physiology of our brain will change I have heard people say that I can choose to be happy Well, this is actually true Although in isolated instances it can be extremely difficult, overall with practice in choosing happiness it will become almost second nature After reading this book and learning so much about how the brain and the mind works for me, I will choose to practice mindfulness, I will choose to acknowledge then release the negative thoughts that result in depression, I will choose to be happier I feel in control of my life, in myself Note Dr Jeffrey M Schwartz will be visiting my city as a guest speaker at the Surgical Medical Society Conference in May 2014 and I have been honored with this opportunity to hear his wisdom once again.