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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Part Three: The uses of non-materialist neuroscience

There is such a thing as "mind over matter." We do have will power, consciousness, and emotions, and combined with a sense of purpose and meaning, we can effect change.


But other challenges to materialism exist, other evidence. Materialists must believe that their minds are simply an illusion created by the workings of the brain, and therefore that free will does not really exist and could have no influence in controlling any disorder. But non-materialist approaches have clearly demonstrated mental health benefits. Here are a few examples discussed in this book:

Jeffrey Schwartz, a non-materialist UCLA neuropsychiatrist, treats obsessive-compulsive disorder — a neuropsychiatric disease marked by distressing, intrusive, and unwanted thoughts—by getting patients to reprogram their brains—their minds change their brains.

Similarly, some of my neuroscientist colleagues at the Université de Montréal and I have demonstrated, via brain imaging techniques, that

– women and young girls can voluntarily control their level of response to sad thoughts, though young girls found it more difficult to do so.

– men who view erotic films are quite able to control their responses to them, when asked to do so.

– people who suffer from phobias such as spider phobia can reorganize their brains so that they lose the fear.

Evidence of the mind's control over the brain is actually captured in these studies. There is such a thing as "mind over matter." We do have will power, consciousness, and emotions, and combined with a sense of purpose and meaning, we can effect change.

Next: Part Four: Materialism is running on empty

(From The Spiritual Brain)

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