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

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  5,838 ratings  ·  159 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
Paperback, 432 pages
Published October 14th 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2001)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  5,838 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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Dec 01, 2008 rated it did not like it
"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
Jul 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody -- run away from it!
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
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
The Angry Lawn Gnome
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
Dec 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Artur Olczyk
Apr 07, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Truthfully, I didn't have intention of writing a review of this book but considering there's something that might safely be called a debate between the book's apologists on the one side and its adversaries on the other side, I thought I might as well write the review. What follows, however, is just a simple advantages/disadvantages recapitulation of the book's claims and its internal structure.


(1) With all due respect to Schwartz's treating of OCD patients and to the patients
Mohammed Al-Humaikani
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully written by a highly experienced researcher. Revolutionary thoughts on neuroplasticity that are yet to be fully accepted by the scientific community. The wonderful blend of buddhist philosophy with deep knowledge of neuroscience is what has been established here. The pragmatic four step concept with the critical idea of mental force is highly applicable and strongly scientific to overcome habits that one is willing to change.
A beautiful chapter on Free Will and Free Won't that
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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).
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was fascinating and hopeful. I read the author's other book "You are Not Your Brain" and found the tone too cheesy and pop-self-helpish. It also left me with a question about the difference between the mind and the brain. When I found this title, it seemed it would answer my question--and it did.

The tone of this book is much more academic, though still intended for lay people. It wanders through the history of experiments that have led neuroscientists to their current understanding of
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Schwartz achieves tremendous success in detailing the concept of neuroplasticity and how the mind can act as a "force" to effect lasting neurological changes. This empowers the reader as much (and probably more) than any self-help book out there, since he extensively backs his ideas with research article after research article. The brain has the capacity to change itself via attention and conscious effort, effectively challenging the reader to, at the risking of sounding trite, be the change she ...more
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It kept my attention, introduced me to new ways of thinking (at least for me) and pulled together disciplines in ways I would not have considered, e.g., psychiatry, philosophy and quantum physics.
He even relates quantum physics to OCD disorders.

I plan to read the book again and am recommending to my more scientifically oriented friends.
Marc Dorval
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, neuroscience
I really enjoyed this book as an additional introduction to neuroplasticity. Throw in some philosophy, quantum physics, and some fascinating history and you have a book that's educational and interesting at the same time.
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
The Mind and The Brain is a book that discusses how those two are separate. It talks how The Mind is more then chemical reactions in The Brain, and how the science grew to the the understanding of this.
Neuroplasticity is defined as an ability of neurons to create new links between nerves, which can happen with the use of mental force. Author places a substantial importance on attention, for without it, our successes would be much smaller.
Dr. Schwartz talks about his technique for treating people
Čavle Margarin
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
a really weirdly written book. on the one hand it tries so hard to present itself as a serious scientific work, but the New Agey zealous and anecdotal tone doesn't really help in taking it seriously. also, it could have really used some editing, I mean I UNDERSTOOD YOUR ACHIEVEMENT IN OCD THERAPY THE FIRST TIME YOU EXPLAINED IT, YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO REPEAT IT ON EVERY SECOND PAGE OF THE DAMN BOOK. still, the quantum mechanics introduction is alright, as well as the summary of different schools of ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
At first, I was like:

Agreement gif

And then I got to the second half of the book and I was like:

Mind is blown.


And then I ended up with a little bit of this:

Yes, yes.

So, yes. Super interesting read if you'd like to understand why and how attention or the "mental force" of your mind can actually change the brain's structure.
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Probably more like 3.5 stars but I'd give this book the benefit of the doubt. A seemingly 'easy' philosophical issue: is there a duality between mind and brain doesn't seem so simple to neuroscientist. Do mental forces affect the brain by altering wave functions causing us to act differently? The authors exhaustively explore this and other issues as it pertains to amputees, individuals with brain traumas as well as OCD patients. There also is a rather interesting chapter on the infamous ...more
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
The author develops a 4 part mental therapy to help individuals with Obsessive Compulsive disorder resist their obsessive and compulsive behaviors. His therapy involves being attentive to what you are feeling and then refocusing your behavior on a productive tasks. He believes that one can change the pathways in the brain that facilitate this behavior.

He describes different studies where human and animals have changed behaviors thus demonstrating the neuroplasticity of the brain. This book
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Outstanding! Schwartz while working with OCD patients and developing a therapeutic intervention for them discovered what he calls "self-directed neuroplasticity" (mental force). He works with the physicist Henry Stapp to establish the mechanics of self-directed neuroplasticity in quantum physics and connects this with the Buddhist practice of mindfulness.In all of this, he makes a case for the human mind and human will having impact on the human brain: in other words, the mind can change the ...more
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Erno Berezvay
May 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Wow, where do I begin?

I have mixed feelings with this book, as it started off as one of those which has potential to be a good book, but ended up being the one which I had to stop before the last chapter.

The science what the authors present is questionable, and the counterarguments what they line up are weak. One example:
"...this intervening thing called 'the feeling of mental effort', they might argue, is mere side effect with no casual power of its own. But this sort of reasoning is
Adrian Mora
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rating 4.4

I love Brain Books!

Dr. Jefferey Schwartz is a Neuropsychiatrist (I was unaware there was such a thing) whose main expertise is helping OCD patients. He seems like a bit of a hippy and believes mindfulness from the Buddha doctrine offered a radically new approach to OCD treatment. This led to a regimen called the "Four Steps". Relabel, Reattribute, Refocus and Revalue. Basically a way to distract your brain with focusing your attention on better behaviors. At the time (late 80's) the
D Finch
This was a great book. I don't think Schwartz has proved the existence of a new force, put any nails in the coffin of materialism, or demonstrated the existence of free will, but to be fair to Schwartz I don't think that's possible.

All mental acts have physical correlates (as his own evidence demonstrates) so it's always going to be logically tenable to be a determinist and a materialist. What makes the book great is the depth to which he pushes the argument, the evidence he assembles to support
Kenzie Brenna
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I really really wanted to like this book and there were certain neuro psych chapters that had me turning each page as fast as I could but alas I couldn’t figure out how such a steep jump into quantum mechanics was made.

I reread and tried over and over again, perhaps I will come back to those chapters at a later time. It just seemed so odd, being a science communicator is difficult so maybe if the information was communicated in a different way I would have understood it better.

I definitely
P.S. Winn
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great what is possible book. Looking at the human mind and what it is possible of is fascinating. The author offers a great scenario that the mind, so powerful, is capable of many things. How we use it is up to you. I have long believed we could use our minds to do many things, including healing ourselves and more extraordinary things. We have great minds, why not use them?
Lou Sills
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Clear and compelling articulation underkying the science of will and attention and one's ability to change behaviors by and because of altered neutal pathways...indeed the brain is plastic if only you are willing...if only you attend
I know a masterful book when I am compelled to read owing to excitenent and wonder!
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Research Psychiatrist,
Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences,
University of California, Los Angeles
“we cannot know what really happens, but only what we observe to happen.” 2 likes
“[T]here is no stronger influence on human values than man's belief about his relationship to the power that shapes the universe. When medieval science connected man directly to his Creator, man saw himself as a child of the divine imbued with a will free to choose between the good and evil. When the scientific revolution converted human beings from the sparks of divine creation into not particularly special cogs in a giant impersonal machine, it eroded any rational basis for the notion of responsibility for one's actions.” 2 likes
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