July 23, 2012

The brain that changes



I started The Brain That Changes Itself, which is basically a love letter to optimism with an ISBN number. It summarises the findings of case studies and research into how our brains get around brain injuries and other damage by rewiring so that a part of the brain set up for one thing can do doubletime taking over for another broken bit. There's more to it, but the whole point is that things aren't set in stone.

Reading this gives me such huge relief. It's hope-giving. I suffer from (don't you hate sentences starting like that?) some nasty anxiety following a couple of car accidents, a head-on collision and a T-bone. In both cases, someone foolishly turned left without noticing that my car was in the way. It left me terribly nervous around cars. Hey, if two people can engage you in completely unavoidable accidents by their own negligence, why can't a third?

My happy little post-trauma involves dreaming up the worst accidents you can imagine and playing them out every time I'm around cars. Including parked ones. It is frightening, tiring, and boring!

But apparently, despite the fact that I've got these mini-horrorshows nicely down pat, and despite the failure of my personal form of aversion therapy of continuing to drive and walk down busy roads, I actually *can* think my way out of this. By doing something that makes me happy, like listening to music, every time I feel the anxiety. They call it "use it or lose it." If you don't feed the anxiety, it dies. You just have to build new pathways in your mind instead. Let's roll!

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