Written by Norman Doidge, M.D.
“Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science”.
Over the years I have been interested in the science of brain plasticity and the ability of the human brain, at any age, to learn and grow new neural.
We meet many people in this book who have found brain plasticity the breakthrough for learning to help with physical and psychological disabilities.
The books goes on to cover children with learning physical and learning disabilities, people with phantom limb syndrome and those with psychological issues, it shows that with time and effort they can learn to rewire neural networks and overcome or manage their disabilities. I find this really helpful as a person living with ME/CFS/FM who has a damaged stress response. Pre-ME/CFS/FM I thrived on stress and really enjoyed living and working in stressful environments and after I found even small amounts of stress would trigger a full-blown fight, flight, or freeze response. Over the years I have learnt that I can overcome this by retraining my brain when it comes to stress. I have made a conscious effort to stop or slow down when I feel stress coming into my body and over time have increased my resilience to stress.
Also, like many with an overactive stress response, I developed anxiety. My brain would rush to patterns of thinking that made me jump to the worst outcome and to low self-esteem. None of this helped me on my recovery as I would often think that it was all my fault, you cannot find “home” and flexibility when your brain is in that pattern of thinking. Using the practice of meditation, I have re-trained my brain to stop running down those well-worn pathways and have instead created a higher level of self-awareness and self-esteem.
None of this has been easy or fast but it has happened because of books like this and others in the area of brain plasticity, mindfulness, and meditation. I find it fascinating that we can help to grow and improve our brains over time, no matter what. “Neurons that fire together, wire together” this means that the more often we try new physical patterns, the higher chance we have of creating new pathways in our brain.
With the research outlined in this book, it has been proven that if we lose a physical or mental process we can, with the right training, rewire a new pathway and use another part of the brain or body to perform a task. This opens the door for so much possibility for our ongoing development as humans and lets us know that we have not even scraped the surface to the capacity of the human brain and body.