Jeff Schwartz lectures in Ireland on changing the troubled brain by changing the mind
THE FANCIFUL notion of "mind over matter", where the mind can exert influence over the body, is not so fanciful after all. It is possible for the mind to impose lasting physiological changes on the brain to overcome psychiatric problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder.
So argues Prof Jeffrey M Schwartz, one of the world's leading proponents of mind over matter in a psychiatric sense, who was in Dublin yesterday to deliver a lecture at St Patrick's Hospital.
Non-materialist neuroscientists like Schwartz and Beauregard are not trying to have a faculty common-room fight with materialist neuroscientists over abstract issues that begin and end in "ism." How would that help anyone?
Non-materialists see the brain as the organ that connects our minds to life. Like any organ, it can have problems. Our minds can have problems too - we can have attitudes that are wrong and destructive.
The non-materialist works with the patient whose behaviour is creating a problem, such as obsessive compulsions, to help change their mind. Then the mind changes the brain in the process, and thus the person's life changes slowly over time. Neuroscientists like Mario and Jeff have imaged this very process.
As Mario and I show in Chapter Six of The Spiritual Brain, non-materialist treatments work - and that is what keeps the non-materialist neuroscientist at work, despite much misunderstanding and occasional misrepresentation.