For much of modern history, humans have thought of the brain as the chief orchestrator of our thoughts and actions, a role cemented over centuries of evolution.
But according to neuropsychiatrist Dan Siegel, the mind actually has the power to change the way the brain functions. "The perspective of the mind as a product of the brain alone," he adds, "leads us to an isolating sense of inhabiting a 'separate self,' which desensitizes us to our impact on each other and the planet."
In this video clip, Siegel shares a personal experience that exemplifies why now, more than ever, therapists need to be flag-bearers for the transformative power of the mind.
Daniel Siegel, MD, is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, founding codirector of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, and the executive director of the Mindsight Institute. His latest book is Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human.
As Siegel notes, our biologically based, hardwired tendency to sort people into groups can be extremely destructive. However, he continues, our forefathers, like Jefferson, knew that humans have the capacity to change the way we think and act—to override our instincts in favor of a world that's more productive, tolerant, and caring.
The mental health field, Siegel concludes, "is in a crucial position in modern society to facilitate the positive growth of the human mind through evolution. We can make cultural evolution happen intentionally. Now, we have an opportunity to identify the human brain's vulnerabilities in making ingroup-outgroup distinctions, for individuals, for families, for communities. The mind can rise above the brain."
Stay tuned for more of Siegel's clinical wisdom in our upcoming video blogs!
Did you enjoy this video? You might also want to check out Dan's article, "Neuroscience and Therapy: The Craft of Rewiring the Brain," in which he reflects on the origins of neuroscience in our field and makes the case for the mind as a path to kindness and compassion toward ourselves and others.
Tags: 2017 | body and mind | brain | brain development | brain functions | brain plasticity | brain research | brain science | Dan Siegel | Daniel Siegel | mind | Mind/Body | mindful | mindful brain | mindsight | Networker Symposium | Symposium