Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sara Rosenquist - Changing Brain Chemistry, Changing Paradigms

This is a brief but good article from GoodTherapy.org - Sara Rosenquist takes a look at how our understanding of the brain has been changing in recent years, specifically in terms of how experience (therapy, mindfulness, etc.) can rewire the brain in helpful ways that are lasting and powerful. This is, in her opinion, a paradigm shift away from the magic bullet mentality of psychopharmacology.

Changing Brain Chemistry, Changing Paradigms



Here is an excerpt (follow the link above to read the whole article):
For several decades now, the field of mental health has been dominated by a dichotomous paradigm—a binary worldview where “mental” experiences and emotions are considered different than “physical” problems and experiences. In this view, the brain is likened to a motherboard and biochemistry is like the circuits that communicate between motherboard and software. But data is accumulating that contradicts this worldview and strains our use of the computer metaphor. New research shows, for example, that unlike motherboard and software, the physical structure of the brain actually changes in response to changes in thought and behavior. Habits of thought are behaviors, and our habits of thought make a very big difference in how we experience life. Science is just beginning to document that, in fact, changing habits of thought—such as with psychotherapy or mindfulness training, for example—actually changes the physical structure and chemistry of the brain. Currently, there is no software that I am aware of that is capable of changing the physical structure of the motherboard by changing the data that is input.

We are beginning to emerge from a dark age when the dominant paradigm explained everything, from difficulty paying attention to emotional pain, as a medical disease necessitating pharmaceutical intervention.
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