“The Brain That Changes Itself” is a nonfiction book written by psychiatrist Dr. Norman Doidge. The book is focused around the topic of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to rewire itself in order to adapt to changing situations. Doidge writes largely in a biographical style, providing rich detail about the lives and careers of some of the field’s most prominent researchers, many of whom were initially rejected by their peers for their controversial research. As Doidge describes, it took nearly a century for neuroscience to transition from believing the brain was static after birth to the now-accepted knowledge that the adult brain continues to reform its neural connections every day. In addition to humanizing the field’s researchers, Doidge also chronicles the stories of patients who have used the power of neuroplasticity to improve their neurological conditions, including stroke, learning disorders, phantom limb syndrome, and more.
The informal and personable style of Doidge’s writing makes the book very pleasant to read. The book has an unusual mix of clinical case studies, scientific research, and personal biography. All information is given at a level that the average reader could easily understand and even apply to their own life. I don’t entirely buy into Doidge’s very Freudian views on psychoanalysis, but this didn’t distract me too much from the main thread of the book. After reading “The Brain That Changes Itself,” I felt more empowered than ever in my ability to control my brain through daily actions. This would be a great read for anyone who is affected by a neurological condition, as it demonstrates the amazing power of neuroplastic therapy to improve neurological symptoms.
Overall rating: 4.5 stars