This book was a longer book, it is about 15hours of listening on Audible. I read it at 2x speed and finished it in about 2weeks. I really liked the book as a whole even though there were some boring parts in it. If you read the Psycho-Cybernetics before then you can think of this book as an expansion and update of that. This book expands on the topic. In a scientific way. I would have liked if this book mentioned Psycho-Cybernetics, it would have been nice if it paid tribute to it. Even the science of cybernetics is mentioned but not the book. I recognized the same advice multiple time in this book that Psycho-cybernetics already talked about. However, this book grounded everything in reality while that one didn’t exactly. Unlike Psycho-Cybernetics, this book didn’t compare the brain to computers. It disassociated from it even though it mentioned how important association in the brain is. I’m not saying that any of this is bad, I’m just comparing this book to that one because there are so many similarities.
Topics discussed in the book
This book started out by hypothesizing about quantum possibilities and how our brain is the measuring tool that collapses the quantum possibility wave and our thoughts become matter. This idea immediately struck a chord with me. This would explain why some people believe that there is a shared intelligence between humans and it is possible to get ideas out of this shared intellect. This theory is also in line with the workings of Quantum computing, something that is dear to my heart.
The book tells the story of how the author broke his back and healed himself without modern medicine and human intervention. Then the author tells us about patients who survived or healed from medical condition disregarding the doctors’ advice. There are 4 common things among these people and you can elevate your mind to this level too:
- There is a higher intelligence/ power
Every patient believed that they can draw power from a higher intelligence within them
- Thoughts have a profound effect on our body
They believed that their taught can control every aspect of their bodies, it has the power to make and break
- People can reinvent themselves
People are dynamic and are capable of massive change
- Humans can concentrate like nothing else
Humans have the ability to rule out every brain function and to focus solely on the task at hand. This way we can lose the sense of time and space, that no other living creature can achieve.
This book isn’t purely practical and pragmatic. There is a complete chapter in the book that goes through brain imaging machines and technical terms like synapses, lobes, cortex and much more. I found these chapters boring at the beginning but looking back now, I think it was useful. The information really isn’t overwhelming and it can add a lot to your general literacy and understanding of your brain. What is really useful, is that the author gives definitions for the brain, mind and consciousness.
The evolution of our nervous system is also discussed. The author goes to great lengths to compare our nervous system to those of jellyfish and other species. He looks at a difference between male and female brains for humans. Spoiler alert, he concludes that it is negligible.
Some myth busting is sprinkled throughout the book. Every time a function of the brain is at hand, the author mentions old misconceptions. One such example that it is believed that the brain is a blank slate at birth. This isn’t exactly true. We already have genetic predispositions to out species and more importantly, out parents’ DNA. However, as we learn, we make new cells and connections and so we can create our own personalities.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but it can roll away.
Our brain evolves in accordance with how we utilize it so everybody’s brain is deferent based on education, occupation and surroundings. The brain adapts to whatever we expose it to. The motto of the book that gets repeated in almost every chapter is
What fires together wires together.
This way if a person is blind the brain can still utilize the unused part of the brain to enhance some other function. This is how blind people learn to read braille writing. The body creates finer receptors that are processed in the visual cortex.
The process of learning on a neurological level gets explained, which is the most practical part of the book:
- By learning new information (semantic memories) and having new experiences (episodic memories) we make new synaptic connections and evolve out brain’s hardware.
- We learn by association
We use what we already know to understand the unknowns we encounter. When we fire neurological networks that are already developed from our knowledge and experience that part of the brain is now receptive to making new synaptic connections for greater understanding. This is Hebb’s Fire together wire together model of learning.
- We remember by repetition
When we put our full attention on what we are learning and practice it repeatedly, firing these synaptic connections time and time again neurotrophic chemicals are released that cause the synapses between neurons to form long-term relationships. Neurons that repeatedly fire together, wire together more strongly.
- We have hardware in our brain
that enables us to learn, to make the unknown know on both the Hebbian level of neurons (microscopic) and on the level of dual-brain (macroscopic) processing.
There is a dedicated chapter in the book that demystifies stress. The author explores stress, how it comes to be, what its original purpose was and how it got turned inside-out in the modern world. The book also goes on to talk about addiction to the routine. How our brains are addicted to our comfort zone, to routine and the chemistry of our thoughts. This is slowing us down. We don’t get the chance to get better, to evolve our brain.
Personal favourite – Frontal Lobe
My favourite chapter of the book talked about the unique part of our brain, the frontal lobe. In the whole animal kingdom, the ratio of the frontal lobe to the rest of the brain is the highest for humans. The frontal lobe is what allows us to deny the built-in processes of the brain and the outside stimulus so that we can act on our free will. This part of the brain is what can break our habits and allow us to concentrate. Buddhist monks have mastered this part of their brains. Their activity reading in this part of the brain is off the charts. The frontal lobe can be exercised like a muscle.
Furthermore, the book talks about the mental reversal, feedback to our brain, priming amongst others. Another process that I found interesting in the book is the process to mastery:
- Unconsciously unskilled
- Consciously unskilled
- Consciously skilled
- Unconsciously skilled
I recommend this book to everyone regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. This book repeats and builds on top of Psycho-Cybernetics, which is another book I can only recommend.
You can buy this book on Amazon (with my affiliate link)