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

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  2,129 ratings  ·  102 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 Sch...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published 2002)
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"Sitting somewhere between purely mental events and purely sensory ones is this vast sea of life called experience." (p. 250) And somewhere between the worst of bad popular science writing and New Age pseudo-philosophy lies this horrendous mess. Where to begin?

I have so many problems with this book that it's a challenge to put them together in a meaningful and organized fashion. Here's my best shot.

First, this book is supposedly intended to be a science book. However, there is not a single foo...more
Jul 03, 2010 Ella rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: nobody -- run away from it!
Shelves: ellalib-old
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 "f...more
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 pr...more
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 flexib...more
Dec 29, 2012 Audra rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
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 more technical than the former book and delves deeper into brain structure.

I wish that the author had dwelled more on how meditation and buddhism can help in overcoming men...more
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 introdu...more
If you would like to know more about the human brain, I highly recommend this book. I read it a number of years ago after hearing the author interviewed and I have remembered it ever since. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, MD, is a research psychiatrist at UCLA. His descriptions of how the brain is formed will astound you! The stories of how nerves are reclaimed and reused (in the event of a limb amputation, for example) are amazing. Did you know that violinists have a much larger portion of their brain dev...more
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 desensitiza...more
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...more
I'm not a fan of the writing style; the author could have said the same thing in half the space. It is congested with round about details, and unnecessary words, that make it all very long-winded, and very INDIRECT! It's like reading run-on poetry about neuroscience (you must overlook the whole sentence in favor of the feeling), which takes more energy (and patience). It helps if you already have an understanding of neurobiology. That said, this book is interesting, it first explores OCD (obsess...more
First of all, neuroplasticity is just fun to say. It makes you sound all educated when you drop it in a conversation. But the truth of the matter is that Jeffrey Schwartz is able to explain a complicated subject to the common folk and teach us to utilize the benefits of science. So, where is your mind???? Find that out and you hold the keys to the kingdom. The answer is actually quite simple.
Jason Shawartz does an amazing job at walking the reader through what is happening in the brain when we are paying attention and apply focus to something. He details the Neuroscience behind what takes place as we create new habits in how we think and shows what free will really is. Controlling what we choose to think about and focus on. ... Its the proof behind James Allen's classic As a Man Thinketh.
This book explains the ability of the mind, or the will, to influence the brain. This has application for language learning. We can and do influence the ability of our brains to develop new neural circuits to cope with new languages. Language learning is more a matter of attitude than aptitude, I have always felt. This book supports this view.
I was really excited to get into this book, expecting to learn a bit about how the brain, quantum mechanics, and Buddhist philosophy works. It turned out that the book wouldn't get much deeper than the working knowledge I already have of the later two, and the discussions of the former are so technical as to be difficult to grasp even after several re-listens.

This might not be a great book to listen to in Audiobook form, and it's also important to note that I'm very much a novice when it comes t...more
John Martindale
This book was really interesting, he makes the case that the mind is not merely an illusion, but it can have a causative force on the brain, which is quite a controversial stance to take in the scientific community. Personally it was quite a pleasure to hear Schwartz opposing the materialistic, deterministic and behaviorist view point which are still orthodoxy in the cult of scientific naturalism. But yeah, a lot of the book is the history of brain science and how a couple of folks accidentally...more
Michael Johnston
I was fascinated by this book. From neurology to quantum physics to existential philosophy, the author covers enormous territory in pursuit of an interesting idea - that the mind exists as a force of nature independent of the the brain. Scientific determinists have long argued that the chemical and synapitic make-up of the brain determines who we are. That all of our behaviors and beliefs are essentially pre-determined by the chemical and synaptic make-up of the brain.

Schwartz rebels against th...more
Mark Derderian
Contains a good introductory overview of the history of the philosophy of mind and some related contemporary issues in philosophy as well as some interesting speculative explorations of the relationship of theoretical physics to consciousness to brain structure. Since it is written by a psychiatrist with an obvious interest in the actual functioning of human beings and a knowledge of brain anatomy and physiology that adds to its scope beyond the more theoretical issues involved. However, I think...more
The flaws in this book are many. The primary author, Schwartz, is self-obsessed, whether describing his own research or simply describing his Mercedes and land holdings. He also wanders off topic for most of a chapter, recounting the controversy with PETA about the treatment of lab monkeys (not the point of the book, but it is an interesting chapter). He makes up misleading new terminology (like “mental force”), and summarizes decades of physics far less effectively than many who have popularize...more
This book delivers new ideas about the independence of the mind, neuroplasticity of the adult brain, and cogently lays out the efficacy of quantum mechanics at the root of the mind/brain relationship. Also, the author writes some of the best descriptions of quantum mechanical effects and the brain research tales that empower the concepts. Very good book. Highly recommend.

Amazon review:

A groundbreaking work of science that confirms, for the first time, the independent existence of the mind–and de...more
Stephanie Dinnen-Reini
I would like to give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars if I could. A lot of very interesting information from a bevy of scientific sources is provided in this book detailing the history of expirements on neuroplasticity in animal and human populations. It is written in such a way that assumes a basic understanding of neuroscience/scientific language and some familiarity with scientific study design and thus, I found it less "pop-science" than some of the other neuro books out there.

The topic is highl...more
Oct 17, 2008 Landin rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Anyone who believes in the idea of mind over matter
Recommended to Landin by: self-discovery
Great book. Didnt give it 5 stars for 2 reasons 1. it is unnecessarily cerebral and difficult to get through. Author is too wordy and wont connect to most people and even some with a general understanding of psychology or science. It's that nerdy. 2. It lacked wholeness. For something with such a scientific tone it ended up as being nearly stream of conciousness. The original argument and original study never came full circle. Despite these things, it was right up MY alley. Simply, I am PERSONAL...more
Tim Jin
While interesting and fascinating, "The Mind and the Brain" was just hard to digest because it was written in a way to be very technical and you need the necessary vocabulary to understand the authors. It's almost too technical for someone to pickup from the coffee table and read.

You might take a glance and put it down because it might not interest you unless you are a brain surgeon or want to know more about OCD and how it affects the brain.

I just wished that the authors would had gone more i...more
I found this book very interesting. It discuses, neuroplasticity, most specifically the use of directed thinking to change the chemical structure of the brain. Dr. Schwartz goes into detail his Four Steps method for treatment of OCD, which pulls heavily from Buddhist meditation.

This book was very informational, with a strong emphasis on the specific science involved, but was not jargon-heavy, and could be followed by an interested reader. It gives great background on the history and development...more
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This book is just PACKED with serious implications about a number of topics. Let's just say that, if this guy is on the right track with his ideas about how paying conscious attention to specific thoughts, stimuli, etc., can actually affect the physical structure and circuitry of the brain, there are some tremendously important conclusions to be drawn about how the mind, consciousness, and the brain (and even the physical world outside the body) are related. Not to mention the conclusions that c...more
Fon Kongmuang
I read this book back in Junior year in college and it made me pursue neuroscience in graduate school. As a scientist, I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the brain (the the mind), because it is full with neuroscience and neuroplasticity historical evidence and scientific studies. This book is very informative and full of knowledge - a great source to feed my hunger :) The story was written with great transition and the author made neuroscience and science more interesti...more
This is a book about plasticity in the brain. Schwartz treated OCD patients in a way that was entirely novel at the time and now has become the standard. Although most of his examples are about OCD, the neuroscience base that he writes about is applicable across many disorders or poorly organized orders. For instance, in one section he talks about getting something stuck in your mind; the example is of someone needing to wash her hands until they bled, but his solutions were equally useful if yo...more
Jul 31, 2010 Jeremy added it
How pliable our minds - or brain I should say - are is the whole point of this book. It's great for proving that point. We can actually change our neural pathways and brains faster than anyone expected I think.

However - there's quite a bit about the benefits of animal-based research and stories about it. While I don't support animal based research, I understand the points of the author. I just don't think it was necessary to go down this path for the purposes of this book. It also overly written...more
Phebe Idol
Dr. Schwartz gives a well-written account of the struggle neuroplasticity has had coming into acceptance. The explanation of his research on OCD and how he has helped his patients overcome their OCD with mental force or "mindfulness" is inspiring! The chapters where he discusses the quantum physics of the mind/brain relationship get a little hairy and scary and he tends to belabor the differences between Mentalistic and Emergent Materialism, Epiphenomenalism, agnostic physicalism, and dualistic...more
Interesting to see the scientific evidence that we can permanently rewire our brain through self-directed thought. The opoosite view has been a sacred cow for many years. Opens many new forms of mental health treatment from OCD to depression for those who may have lost hope in become unshackled. Interesting threads on how experimental data and quantum physics support a view of the reality of consciousness. Also good explanations of Brain development.

But the book doesn't flow well and seems too...more
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Research Psychiatrist,
Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences,
University of California, Los Angeles
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