Is brain plasticity the key to healing?

516YMtFHLFL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve written on this many times, but also feel, no matter how many times we talk about Neuroplasticity, and the brain’s ability to change and heal itself, it will never be enough as not everyone is yet listening. I am a firm believe, and have been for a very long time. I have also believed in the power of belief.

Norman Doidge and Bruce Lipton’s books for me, are all the proof others should need, although I know many in the medical and scientific community still refuse to believe, let alone even read books like these.

I was talking to a young general practitioner this week, who was ‘surprised’ I am doing so well, seeming to be vaguely unbelieving I had a diagnosis at all. I gently reminded her that with the support of a naturopath, she had healed or at least learned to manage her own Chronic Fatigue year ago when still a school student, with holistic and nutritional support, and not through western medicine.

She also knows well, through her own experience that many in her own profession do not even believe chronic fatigue exists. Her attitude changed to one of interest in what I’ve been up to to manage living beyond dementia…

Anyway as usual, I seem to have digressed; I really started out here to share an interview with Dr Norman Swan, and Dr Norman Doidge at the recent Sydney Writer’s Festival. You can read the full transcript, watch the video and listen to the audio here…

Alzheimer’s NSW Library blog brought it to my attention, introducing it like this:

“The brain has far more restorative capacity than neuroscientists used to give it credit for. 

The now uncontroversial but still remarkable Dr Norman Doidge 

is a Canadian psychiatrist and psychotherapist and his books The brain that changes itself and The brain’s way of healing both tap into the growing interest in this type of therapy.
He spoke with Dr Norman Swan at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity”

It really is worth reading, if you have any type of cognitive disabilities, including dementia, and also if you are living with chronic pain.

For me, this section of the interview transcript has been a timely reminder, as I have a friend who also has younger onset dementia, who has been recommending I add Feldenkrais work into my regime!

“Norman Swan: It’s almost what you call these days neuromuscular training, which they do in sport.

Norman Doidge: With an emphasis on the role of consciousness as part of the system. But Feldenkrais has remarkable breakthroughs with children with strokes and cerebral palsy et cetera, using these same techniques to teach differentiation. And even during the course of writing this book my editor had a stroke, alas, and we got him doing Feldenkrais work and other things, and he was able to walk by the end of the book actually.

Feldenkrais was very, very good at decreasing what he called muscle tonus and rigidity, not by getting people to stretch but by, again, these gentle movements, getting the brain to turn off the muscles. And in that state, Webber started to notice that his vision was beginning to awaken, in the very relaxed Feldenkrais state.”


Doidge, N. (2012) The Brain That Changes Itself, Melbourne, Vic: Scribe Publications.

Doidge, N. (2015) The Brains way of healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity, Victoria: Scribe Publications

Lipton, B. (2005) The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles. London: Hay House Inc.

10 thoughts on “Is brain plasticity the key to healing?

  1. Hi Kate thought I would share a snippet from one of my Lecturers interesting finds. This is in an article that generally speaks about the brains ability to either hinder or heal itself. I love the fact that my teacher has enough common sense to look at the ‘whole’ picture and not just the pathology, she is an inspiration you just don’t come across every day.

    “We believe it is the stress generated by the negative beliefs about aging that individuals sometimes internalize from society that can result in pathological brain changes.”


  2. Agree re Feldenkrais. I found doing that, and rehab Pilates (where the brain “relearns”), made for a nice balance. Feldenkrais forced me to put my brain aside, Pilates makes it refocus. Both work with what is, rather than aiming for a “standard” (which is how I see Iyengar yoga).

    I just don’t get the resistance to the concept of neuroplasticity in dementia. We have longstanding rehab evidence in ABI. It’s a mainstay of the work of most allied health professionals, educators, cognitive psychologists, etc. We know which parts of the brain need to be compensated after injury. We know about learning styles & psychophysiology.
    The only reasons for not having postDx rehab plans in place is that PWD aren’t seen to be worth the effort & that careworkers aren’t educated to do it.


  3. I also believe in belief! I believe that Gregory was able to continue to do so well for as long as he did because we both were able to support his brain’s ability to change and heal itself. We read, we traveled, we talked, we went to opera and musicals, we entertained, we engaged family and friends, we enjoyed our pets, we planned, we walked, we communed with nature, we kept out expectations high, we enjoyed life to its fullest.

    In the end we all must die. We have known this from when we were first born. Perhaps facing this also helps the brain do its best until it is ready to go back home.


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