The Mind and the Brain (Google eBook)

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HarperCollins, Aug 4, 2009 - Science - 432 pages
83 Reviews

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 brain.

Conventional 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 own.Dr 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 neuroscientists.

Through 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 more positive ones, Schwartz's patients were using their minds to reshape their brains–and discovering a thrilling new dimension to the concept of neuroplasticity.

The Mind and the Brain follows Schwartz as he investigates this newly discovered power, which he calls self–directed neuroplasticity or, more 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 more 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.


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Extremely interesting premise. - Goodreads
The material is fascinating, and the writing eloquent. - Goodreads
Great introduction to neuroscience too! - Goodreads
Also good explanations of Brain development. - Goodreads
Well documented research and experimental study. - Goodreads

Review: The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force

User Review  - Dave Schey - Goodreads

I thought the authors went a bit woo-woo in suggesting the mind is something outside the brain, and that it can be used to produce change in the real world. My feeling is that the mind is a product of our brain and can only change our perception of the real world. Read full review

Review: The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force

User Review  - Luke Ballenger - Goodreads

My dad's been a geriatric psychiatrist for over three decades... HAD to pick this up and read it! Read full review


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Page 32 - That gravity should be innate, inherent and essential to matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum, without the mediation of anything else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an absurdity, that I believe no man who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it.
Page 165 - ... Plasticity, then, in the wide sense of the word, means the possession of a structure weak enough to yield to an influence, but strong enough not to yield all at once. Each relatively stable phase of equilibrium in such a structure is marked by what we may call a new set of habits. Organic matter, especially nervous tissue, seems endowed with a very extraordinary degree of plasticity of this sort ; so that we may without hesitation lay down as our first proposition the following, that the phenomena...
Page 13 - The first is the spectator whose sentiments with regard to my own conduct I endeavour to enter into, by placing myself in his situation and by considering how it would appear to me when seen from that particular point of view. The second is the agent, the person whom I properly call myself, and of whose conduct, under the character of a spectator, I was endeavouring to form some opinion.
Page 33 - It rather shows that they have no reason at all, and that it is nature which acts in them according to the disposition of their organs, just as a clock, which is only composed of wheels and weights is able to tell the hours and measure the time more correctly than we can do with all our wisdom.
Page 166 - Swiftly the head-mass becomes an enchanted loom where millions of flashing shuttles weave a dissolving pattern, always a meaningful pattern though never an abiding one; a shifting harmony of subpatterns.
Page 22 - The spiritualistic reader may nevertheless believe in the soul if he will; whilst the positivistic one who wishes to give a tinge of mystery to the expression of his positivism can continue to say that nature in her unfathomable designs has mixed us of clay and flame, of brain and mind, that the two things hang indubitably together and determine each other's being, but how or why, no mortal may ever know.
Page 325 - The delay thus gained might not be more than a second in duration — but that second might be critical ; for in the constant rising and falling of considerations in the mind, where two associated systems of them are nearly in equilibrium it is often a matter of but a second more or less of attention at the outset, whether one system shall gain force to occupy the field and develop itself, and exclude the other, or be excluded itself by the other. When developed, it may make us act ; and that act...
Page 256 - Science no longer is in the position of observer of nature, but rather recognizes itself as part of the interplay between man and nature. The scientific method of separating, explaining, and arranging becomes conscious of its limits, set by the fact that the employment of this procedure changes and transforms its object; the procedure can no longer keep its distance from the object. The world view of natural science thus ceases to be a view of "natural...
Page 23 - Spare me. Okay, maybe they're only part meat. You know, like the weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside." "Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads, like the weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They're meat all the way through.

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About the author (2009)

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.

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