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Deutsch, J.W. Deutsch, J.R. (2007). The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science Norman Doidge New York: Viking, 2007, 427 pp. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 15(2):350-353.
(2007). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 15(2):350-353
The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science Norman Doidge New York: Viking, 2007, 427 pp
Review by: James W. Deutsch
Judith R. Deutsch
Contrast the slow, effortful process of helping an analysand to make difficult and painful connections among experiences, feelings, thoughts, and worries, with the following: “I can connect anything to anything.” Paul Bach-y-Rita, a revolutionary and dogma-defying, versatile, and creative neuroscientist, who, along with his psychiatrist brother, helped their stroke-incapacitated 65-year-old father to get back on his feet by first crawling like a baby, was clearly motivated to try anything that might work. In the process, he discovered what psychoanalysts and mothers have known for decades: the human being achieves developmental goals via a complicated and layered process of maturation, retaining access to earlier stages if required.
Academic psychology and neuroscience have, until recently, neglected the fact that healthy development and change are extremely individual, built up gradually through integration of body and mind, requiring the support of an invested “mothering person.” The brain is not a fixed “black box,” but an ever-changing organ that, as part of the nervous system, subserves, in addition to other vital functions, what we call the mind.
This book, addressed to a wide readership, gives us a first-hand view of the scientists and subjects involved in key advances in knowledge, in fascinating and exquisite detail, boosted by the burgeoning arsenal of neuroscience techniques. We learn that body and brain, intimately interconnected by sensory and motor pathways, ideally develop and function in register, employing modules and circuits, evolved over eons, and recruited in an improvised, accelerated fashion with the recent acquisition of complex social structures and language. Out of register (for example, in situations where there have been limb amputations, a severe impairment in sight or hearing, or in brain injury), one's human integrity can be devastated.
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