Dr. Norman Doidge

Avalon Hills has benefitted from ongoing consultation with Dr. Norman Doidge in Canada in the areas of program development, innovation, implementation and continuous refinement. Dr. Doidge is recognized as a pioneer in the field of neuroplasticity, the area of neuroscience focussed on brain change (and its relationship to undoing blocks to mental and emotional flexibility). He is the author of the New York Times best-selling books The Brain that Changes Itself and The Brain's Way of Healing.

The discovery of neuroplasticity—that thought and mental experience can change brain structure and function—is the most important change in our understanding of the brain in 400 years. Our brains are not hardwired, or hardware, or computers, or machines. What we do changes our brains, for the better or the worse.

While eating disorder behaviors and attitudes may be rigid, this does not mean that the brains of patients with those disorders are rigid or lack plasticity; the illness is in part a product of how they use their plasticity, which is a product of their development. Avalon Hills consults with Dr. Doidge to better understand the common developmental inhibitions, conflicts and psychodynamics, self-fragmentation, trauma, borderline personality organization and pathological defenses in the therapy of eating disorder patients.

We implement this guidance to combine a thought and emotion-based, neuroplastically-informed, hemisphere-balancing psychotherapy, with neurofeedback and other modalities, to help our patients access their full neuroplastic potential, stimulate dormant brain functions, improve self-regulation and neuromodulation, and develop a more integrated, differentiated view of themselves. When this occurs, patients can develop more life- affirming goals that make eating disorder behaviors less necessary or attractive to them, so that they can grow out of a reliance on them, and mature psychologically at the same time.

Clinical and Research Experience

Dr. Doidge served as Head of the Psychotherapy Centre and the Assessment Clinic at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, and taught in the departments of Philosophy, Political Science, Law and Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He has published on trauma, problems in love, psychiatric diagnoses and intensive psychotherapies, and is the author of standards and guidelines for the practice of intensive psychotherapy that are widely used in Canada.

In 1993 he presented his early research at the White House in Washington, D.C., and is credited with helping preserve these treatments as part of the Canadian and Australian health care systems. He is also a Training Analyst (a trainer of psychoanalysts) in the Canadian Institute of Psychoanalysis. Dr. Doidge has won a number of scientific awards, including the U.S. National Psychiatric Endowment Award in Psychiatry; the American Psychoanalytic Association’s CORST Prize in Psychoanalysis and Culture; the Canadian Psychoanalytic Association’s M. Prados Prize; and election to the American College of Psychoanalysts for “many outstanding achievements in psychiatry and psychoanalysis… and national leadership in psychiatry.” He won awarded the Mary S. Sigourney Prize, the highest award in international psychoanalysis, and the National Association of Mental Illness Ken Book Award.

Scientific and Popular Writing

He has written over 170 articles, both scientific and popular. His popular writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, U.S. News and World Report, the back-page essay for Time Magazine, Reader’s Digest, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, L’Unita, UPI, Saturday Night, National Post, The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, Books in Canada, Gravitas, The Medical Post, The Melbourne Age, The Weekly Standard and the Chicago Sun-Times, and his work has been frequently anthologized in college texts as examples of how to write well. He has been a reviewer for the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.



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