Sunday, April 15, 2012

Seek support from people who are encouraging you, not those who are trying to decrease your enthusiasm

Today, neurologists understand that the brain is an unbelievably plastic thing, capable of learning a new language or healing from injury well past adolescence. But Barry's experience taught her a deeper, more essential lesson: every person possesses the ability to be a participant in her own rehabilitation. Patients are not merely subjects to be acted upon. Barry is confident that observation of your own habits and ailments can be a powerful tool in changing them -- but only if you surround yourself with people who are willing to listen.

"Seek support from other people," she advises. "If your doctor, if your therapist, if your friends are saying, 'There’s no way you’re going to change,' then guess what? There isn’t any way that you’re going to change. Seek [out only those] who are encouraging to you, not those who are going to try to decrease your enthusiasm." She's not advocating for a pseudo-scientific ignorance of facts, but she sees healing as a constant dialogue between doctor and patient, rather than something that is imposed. It's a reminder that science is so often more about revision than certainty: the process of arriving at an understanding of exactly how much you don't know, and all that you have yet to learn.

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