The Mind and The Brain - Jeffrey M. Schwartz & Sharon Begley

Mike

The Living Force
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Laura said:
So does about everybody. And it is in comparing the cognitive science to the work of Gurdjieff, Mouravieff, Castaneda, etc, that we are able to really grasp what these people were trying to say without the necessary technical/scientific language.

For example, Martha Stout's book "The Myth of Sanity" addresses the "many Is" of Gurdjieff and Mouravieff (who was just taking off on G). This is again brought forward in "Strangers to Ourselves" and the work of Kahneman.

The principles of self-observation and the necessity for a network of observers/mirrors is emphasized by Timothy Wilson and Daniel Kahnemann also.

Then, of course, the dietary relationship to optimum physiological and psychological functioning seems to be something that we have contributed ourselves, though the pieces of this puzzle have been out there for awhile, just never collected and really analyzed as we have done here.

So it seems that, overall, as a network, we have been putting together a True Way Forward for the spiritually evolving human. It may not be THE way for everyone, but I guess that depends on the individual's AIMS and capacities. And Aims may depend on capacities for their formulation.

Prior to the advent of the development of the field of psychology a person not satisfied with organized religion that dominated would seem to have had limited options on how to work on themselves, etc if they were experiencing problems and not satisfied with the answers and guidance given by religion. With how religion has been used in the past for control of the masses in a more in your face way, but still prevalent today, and the terror methods used to stamp out opposing views I think we can see why groups that did teach a way to go beyond religion, such as maybe alchemists, were driven from the public view and remained hidden. I think it is amazing how material such as this book gives scientific validity to teachings and methods that we know about such as what Gurdjieff taught. It is no wonder that this work is attacked so often. It really does provide out in the open, maybe for the first time in a long time if ever, for anyone that searches it out or stumbles on it a comprehensive way to go beyond normal life, work on themselves, and be something more.
 

luke wilson

The Living Force
Someone correct me if I am wrong as I am not well versed with the various circuitry of the brain and how they work/what they are responsible for etc..

Could the technique of Relabeling, Reattributing, Refocusing and Revaluing help with overcoming addiction? In this sense I am looking at addiction as a sort of OCD type thing in that you can have a compulsive thought that intrudes into your awareness "Play video games, play video games..." so if I was to relabel and reattribute it as a defective thought due to a defective functioning of the brain, then refocus into something more productive and revalue the original thought just as the author says in the except Ailen posted, is it possible to essentially re-wire the brain?

The whole point being you need to put addictive thoughts into there proper context i.e. a manifestation of improper functioning of the brain and thus have a practical way of engaging with the thought in a way that will hopefully eventually disable it as a more healthy pathway in the brain takes over due to the refocusing and willfully acting something else that is productive and not self-damaging?

I also like the idea of the 15 minute time-lag plus that you can't banish the thought but rather you can essentially re-direct it and eventually make it mean something else e.g. wash your hands for the 20th time means it is time to go for a walk etc...
 

Chu

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luke wilson said:
Could the technique of Relabeling, Reattributing, Refocusing and Revaluing help with overcoming addiction? In this sense I am looking at addiction as a sort of OCD type thing in that you can have a compulsive thought that intrudes into your awareness "Play video games, play video games..." so if I was to relabel and reattribute it as a defective thought due to a defective functioning of the brain, then refocus into something more productive and revalue the original thought just as the author says in the except Ailen posted, is it possible to essentially re-wire the brain?

I would think that it's not only possible, but also very likely that this would work in the case of addictions. In fact, if you read the rest of the book, you can relate it to lots of addictive behaviors, be it drugs and alcohol, or video games, porn, or even simply any mechanical reaction learned from conditionning and coping earlier in life.

Applied together with dietary changes (which help to balance things at the neurochemical level too), it would be a very good step-by-step program to try, IMO. At the beginning, and as Schwartz explains, it's never easy to modify the behavior. But just realizing it's an addiction, a false "desire", and then thinking about ways to change it, does something to the brain, and the person as a whole. Then, with will and attention, performing this healthier habit becomes easier. Until hopefully, one doesn't need the "addiction" anymore, or at least can control it and stop being dominated by it.

The whole point being you need to put addictive thoughts into there proper context i.e. a manifestation of improper functioning of the brain and thus have a practical way of engaging with the thought in a way that will hopefully eventually disable it as a more healthy pathway in the brain takes over due to the refocusing and willfully acting something else that is productive and not self-damaging?

Indeed. Instead of the addiction being the most familiar action to take, and therefore, the priviledged one, you can train yourself to create new habits, while understanding the addictive ones, and then, taking action.
 

luke wilson

The Living Force
Ailen said:
Applied together with dietary changes (which help to balance things at the neurochemical level too), it would be a very good step-by-step program to try, IMO. At the beginning, and as Schwartz explains, it's never easy to modify the behavior. But just realizing it's an addiction, a false "desire", and then thinking about ways to change it, does something to the brain, and the person as a whole. Then, with will and attention, performing this healthier habit becomes easier. Until hopefully, one doesn't need the "addiction" anymore, or at least can control it and stop being dominated by it.

Yes, after my original post, I was thinking about it some more and realized with addiction there is a sort of 'reward' mechanism in the brain that I don't think is there for people suffering from OCD. To explain, I don't think an OCD person with a compulsive thought gains any chemical satisfaction by washing their hands for the 20th time for example. Also addiction is also a form of 'coping' as far as my experience goes which is somewhat linked to 'comfort' which can be linked to some chemicals gone haywire in the brain.

So maybe addiction has other additional components to it but like OCD it starts from that compulsive thought which then leads to the action which then leads to the temporary artificially induced chemical high. It's just that in this case, that thought can be triggered by the need to cope in a stressful situation, or by chemical imbalance i.e. brain needs a chemical high etc... So anyways that is why I think the technique described by the author could have a role to play in overcoming addiction but maybe with other added components on top such as dietary changes etc as just by itself it might fall short of the mark..

Anyways, What I most like about what the author says, is that you can still function normally with the 'thought' still there. All you have to do is find a way to create enough distance between you and it. And if you think about it, even though lets say at the wrong end of addiction your brain is really kicking and screaming due to the need for that fix at the end of the day, the thought can't physically manifest itself and make you do anything without your agreeing to do so. This in itself is a sort of power you as an individual has that you can employ in your fight against it. But you don't want to go toe to toe with it as you will no doubt lose, you want to bring healthy pathways into play thus the 4 R's technique. OSIT.
 

Alana

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Thank you for the review and the excerpts. It sounds like a very helpful book, and seems to explain in more detail the practical "hows" of rewiring the brain than a similar book I read a while back did, The Brain that Changes Itself. It's going in my order list for sure :)
 

Mike

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I’ve been reading the book and about a quarter of the way done. The quote below stood out to me in that it can be describing the neurobiological description of programs. If you substitute ‘program’ where it says ‘habit’ I think it is interesting to consider (I’ve put program in { } where it says habit), because what is a program but a repeated pattern of thinking and emotional response to a specific stimuli or situation or a habitual response. OSIT

Thanks to its TAN cells, then, the striatum is able to associate rewarded behavior with particular cues. Because TANs can quickly signal a switch in behavioral response depending on the meaning of a stimulus (“That light means juice!”), they may serve as a sort of gating mechanism, redirecting information flow through the striatum during learning. As noted earlier, the entire striatum acts as an automatic transmission: the putamen shifts between motor activities, and the caudate nucleus shifts between thoughts and emotions. Different gating patterns in the striatum my thus play a critical role in establishing patterns of motor as well as cognitive and emotional responses to the environment. Such patterned responses are nothing more than habits {programs}. Indeed, Graybiel has shown that the striatum can play a fundamental role in the development of habits {programs}. Our best guess is that the tonically active neurons underpin the gating of information through the striatum and thus its role in the formation of habits {programs}. What seems to happen is that distinct environmental cues, associated with differing emotional meanings, elicit different behavioral and cognitive responses as TANs shift the output flow of the striatum. In this way TANs may serve as the foundation for the development of new patterns of activity in the striatum.

Most important, TANs could be crucial to the acquisition of new behavioral skills in cognitive-behavioral therapy. In neurological terms, we could say that cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches people purposefully to alter the response contingencies of their own TANs. This is a crucial point. Such therapy teaches people to alter, by force of will, the response habits wired into their brains through TANs. In the case of OCD, therapy teaches patients to reinterpret their environment and apply their will to alter what had been an automatic behavioral response to disturbing feelings. If that happens often enough, then the new response – the new behavioral output – should itself become habitual. The key to a successful behavioral intervention in OCD, it seems to me, would be to teach the striatum new gating patterns.

So in the second paragraph in place of CB therapy we might say through self-observation, being cognizant of our programs and not letting programs overcome us then we could be teaching the striatum new gating patterns.
 

Chu

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Thanks for the quote, Bear!

And you could say that, although he doesn't mention it specifically, the outside observers (the network in our case) are a crucial part of recognizing what a program is. Because, as opposed to OCD, without knowledge of the self, it's not always possible to tell between a program and who we really are, so identified we are with the programmed "habits".

I've been applying the 4 steps on a regular basis to some programs that never seem to go away, like certain messages from "the introject". And so far, it has been very useful. It's like a constant reminder to doubt the automatic way of thinking, finding alternatives, and not getting stuck in the "I'll never be able to change/do X or Y" cycle. It gives some concrete purpose for not falling into self-pity and actually acting toward a better understanding, and fighting certain "strong dragons". Gurdjiefff and others had already explained it all, but I guess you could say that, described in this other way, the exercises can give you extra strength and clues to actually work on rewiring your brain. At least it's worth a try, to take it as an experiment and see what happens in the long run!

It also seems to be applicable to what Ark once wrote:

So, I suggest, forget all your "I should" [The introject, on which one can practice Relabelling and Reattributing], and replace it by "I ALWAYS WANTED...". It may take
a while for you to specify what it is that you "always wanted", but, on the other hand, perhaps you
know it right away. [searching for the healthy alternative - the beginning of Refocusing and Revaluing]

FORGET "I should", forget it all. Replace it by "I LOVE TO DO ...." and skip completely the TIME issue.

If you need five lives to accomplish what you WANT, let this be the first of those five. And then, without any "time obligation"
or "should stressing" - start it. [Taking action, Refocusing, paying attention and applying will power]

First step first. And ENJOY it. And LOVE yourself - take care of yourself.

This is the only thing that the Universe (God?) wants from you, I think. [The final result, the actual rewiring?]
 

Possibility of Being

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A powerful speech given by Jeffrey Schwartz at a UN conference in 2008:

Mind-Brain Interaction and the Breakdown of the Materialist Paradigm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff2cnQ69LK8

The United Nations, New York - September 11, 2008
Beyond the Mind-Body Problem: New Paradigms in the Science of Consciousness

An excerpt of Jeffrey Schwartz, MD from the panel discussion "Mind-Body Connections: How Does Consciousness Shape the Brain?", speaking about his work with focused attention as a method of treating obsessive compulsive disorder, and the resistance from the scientific establishment.

He talks about addiction in another video, which is an interview with Schwartz by Ed Bernstein on Schwartz's previous book, "You are not your brain". Schwartz believes you can use your mind to change the chemical imbalance of your brain that contributes to addiction; you are free to make a choice of how you focus your attention and those choices do affect the way the chemicals in your brain work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gu8zwubpbys
 

Mountain Crown

The Living Force
The Mind & The Brain, Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force

The Mind & The Brain, Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey Schwartz

Amazon description:


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.

Another example of scientific verification of some 4th Way processes.

The author expounds on the history of the influence of Materialism on neurological science as well as the latest breakthroughs in understanding plasticity.

Schwartz often returned to certain things from previous chapters in order to keep a focus needed to understand fully what he writes in the last chapters about what he coined as “Mental Force.” Repetition often annoys me a little because I tend to want to get to what’s coming next, but I’m glad I resisted skimming this time.

I highly recommend this Book.
 

987baz

The Living Force
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Re: The Mind & The Brain, Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force

Sound similar to Dr Joe Dispenza's work, I'm just finishing reading his Breaking the Habit of Being yourself, will add this to my list, thanks Jerry.
 

Mike

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Re: The Mind & The Brain, Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force

Hi Jerry,
FYI, there is already a thread on the book: https://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=32001.0
 

Temperance

Jedi Council Member
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Re: The Mind & The Brain, Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force

Thanks for the link to amazon, Jerry! I'm going to add it to my cart.

And thanks for the link to the other thread, Bear. I've been looking through it and it's convincing me that i need to get my hands on this book sooner rather than later
 

Mountain Crown

The Living Force
Re: The Mind & The Brain, Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force

Bear said:
Hi Jerry,
FYI, there is already a thread on the book: https://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=32001.0

Thanks Bear, I should have searched the board beforehand.
 

3DStudent

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I finished this a few weeks ago. The biggest take home for me I think was that you can create new circuits with focused attention. And it was interesting that other areas of the brain can take over for the body's actions. Which neurotransmitter gets released is a Quantum effect, and the Quantum Zeno effect is like a narrowing down of possibilities. So from there it scales up towards our macro-actions.

I have a theory that if your OCD evolves at least partly into OCPD, then that is kind of the brain's way of changing and adapting to it so it is not so harsh, and you reach a better equilibrium. But you lose out because it dampens other emotions. So you end up just thinking yourself a clean orderly perfectionist and compulsions don't bother you as much because you take pride in them. So that's an example of brain rewiring. I kind of wonder how to unwire it down to the core OCD and what you would get or become when/if that happens.

On page 222 he mentions a therapy for reducing tinnitus symptoms. It's called Notch Therapy. Basically it creates a noise audio file that has frequencies all except for your tinnitus frequency. You listen it for an hour or so and it's supposed to help your brain not hear the tinnitus frequency.

On page 363 the example of refocusing is given to garden instead of washing your hands. This is a bad example and maybe I'm nitpicking. But one: if you're germaphobic, you'll have to wash your hands after gardening. And two it takes far less time to wash your hands than to 'garden'. So it's a matter of practicality or productivity. I think if you have a compulsion, it's easy to just do it simply due to it taking less time and wanting to get over with it.

Page 129:
... "Teens have the power to determine their own brain development, to determine which connections survive and which don't, [by] whether the do art, or music , or sports, or videogames."

Around that age I was playing videogames a lot, and a little bit of guitar. I hope those neurons haven't pruned much. It seems a waste as I don't know what pressing buttons and computer keys would translate into useful endeavors. But I guess it can translate into music via guitar or piano.

It was a pretty good book. But I thought there may have been more techniques. He really just restates the 4 steps method that is introduced in his book Brain Lock . But there are interesting things to ponder and consider regarding how our brains can shape their selves.
 

Chu

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I have a theory that if your OCD evolves at least partly into OCPD, then that is kind of the brain's way of changing and adapting to it so it is not so harsh, and you reach a better equilibrium. But you lose out because it dampens other emotions. So you end up just thinking yourself a clean orderly perfectionist and compulsions don't bother you as much because you take pride in them. So that's an example of brain rewiring. I kind of wonder how to unwire it down to the core OCD and what you would get or become when/if that happens.

I think that for that, just doing a few exercises isn't enough, and a therapy like NARM would be needed. Because it may be related to attachment issues, or a deep need to create order out of emotional end environmental chaos while growing up. What would you get? Well, probably a person who is more balanced, and starts living in the present a bit more, not needing that "order" so much anymore, because they have found that a healthy amount of disorder is okay and doesn't define them. That other things matter more to them now, because they feel more at peace with themselves and the surroundings.
 
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