The Mind's Ability to Change the Brain.
"A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of his thoughts." -As a Man Thinketh, James Allen, 1902
In order to fully appreciate how you will be able to prevail over substance use, depression and self-defeating behaviors, it is important to understand the science of change. Change is a simple word, but for a person in deep depression or with self-destructive personal habits, change can seem impossible...
... Change happens as a function of will, discipline, and desire. To start the change process you must be motivated; and you must gain an understanding of what motivates or drives you. Ask yourself, what do I value in life? Who is the person I want to be? Who is the person I want to present to others? These very questions will be asked and analyzed in detail throughout this program, giving you a much more accurate and healthier self-awareness and a heightened sense of clarity in your new life's mission. As you journey through the Saint Jude Program you will learn how and what needs to be changed for you to achieve your life's mission.
The Plastic Brain
Neurology is the branch of medicine that deals with the structure and function of the nervous system and the treatment of the diseases and disorders that affect it. Television ads, talk shows, scientific journals and websites relentlessly claim that the human brain is permanently affected, altered or even re-wired by substance use. Some treatment providers and scientists take this concept even further by stating that the disease of addiction changes the very structure of the brain forever rendering the addicted person in perpetual need of support and rehabilitation.
This type of misinformation is based on three main components: neuroplasticity, a brain function recently studied within the discipline of neuroscience; localizationism, a form of neuroscience that dates back centuries and learned helplessness as taught through a variety of religiously based 12-step models. What is interesting about this mix is that each component contradicts the other two. To get around this the industry cherry picked only those aspects of each discipline that made the current treatment model, at least, appear plausible...
... Numerous studies conclusively report that substance users most frequently quit by virtue of their own neuroplastic power - they think their way to new goals and values that do not include substance use. (Schwartz & Begley, 2002) The substance use treatment industry ignores this.
The brain being malleable explains many things. It explains why we are so adaptable as a species, and just as important, how and why humans can get "stuck" and feel as if we are victims of an inexplicable fate. Neuroplasticity cuts both ways; our physical brains can become a slave to positive thought or a slave to negative thought; but we get to choose...
... People, too, were thought to be reactive beings, constantly shoved here and there by life's ever changing circumstances. People were victims of their environments. But this narrow theory could not explain the complexity of living life, the mystery of the contents and depth of emotions, the excitement of desire and joy, the remarkable ability to overcome great physical damage and adversities in life, or the ability to build goals in the mind's eye for the future. It could not explain a person's creative nature and abilities.
Neuroscience and, specifically, neuroplasticity, the science of an ever-malleable brain, has changed all that. Your thoughts and emotions do guide you and they can change everything about you, including changing and remapping the once believed unchangeable organ, the brain. This is fantastic news for those who desire a better life. Not only can you change your present circumstances, but science proves that your choice to change can force your brain to adapt and further support the decision to change.
It is now time to make some decisions. The next chapters begin the process of personal change, the first aspect of which is dealing with the actual activity of substance use. Your journey is just beginning.