Norman Doidge, FRCP(C), is a Canadian-born psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and author of The Brain That Changes Itself (2007) and The Brain's Way of Healing (2015). The Brain That Changes Itself describes some of the latest developments in neuroscience, and became a New York Times and international bestseller.
Doidge studied literary classics and philosophy at the University of Toronto. He obtained his medical degree at the University of Toronto, then moved to New York, where he had a residency in psychiatry and obtained a degree in psychoanalysis at Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, and the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. This was followed by a two-year Columbia University/National Institute of Mental Health Research Fellowship, training in empirical science techniques.
Returning to his native Toronto, Doidge served as Head of the Psychotherapy Centre and the Assessment Clinic at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry (now part of CAMH). He is currently on Faculty at the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry, and Research Faculty at the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, Columbia University, New York.
In the 1990s, Doidge authored empirically based standards and guidelines for the practice of intensive psychotherapy that have been used in Canada and Australia. These were published in the "Standards and Guidelines for the Psychotherapies" edited by Cameron, Deadman and Ennis. In 1993 he presented research into the effectiveness of intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy and the patients who undergo it at the White House in Washington, D.C.. His research from that time, including studies of clinicians and their patients in intensive psychoanalytic psychotherapy in Canada, US, and Australia has been credited with helping to keep intensive psychotherapy as part of the health care systems in Canada and Australia. In the late 1990s, he increasingly turned his attention to how to integrate discoveries in neuroscience with existing psychiatric, psychological and psychoanalytic knowledge. He has been cited as an expert in neuroplasticity, psychiatry and developments in neuroscience in Melbourne Age, New York Times, Washington Post, The Times, Telegraph, Scientific American Mind, Newsweek, and Psychology Today.
Doidge has written over 170 articles, a combination of academic, scientific and popular pieces. Early in his career he published poetry. Doidge has been sole author of academic papers on neuroplasticity, human limitations and notions of perfectibility, psychotherapy treatment outcomes, dreams about animals, Schizoid personality disorder and trauma, psychoanalysis and neuroscience, e.g., a popular article he wrote for Maclean's magazine in which he argues, using empirical studies, that understanding unconscious thought is relevant in modern-day psychiatry and psychology.
Doidge was editor of Books in Canada: The Canadian Review of Books from 1995-8, and editor at large for several years after that. From 1998-2001, he wrote a column, “On Human Nature,” in the National Post. His series of literary portraits of exceptional people at moments of transformation appeared in Saturday Night Magazine, and he won four National Magazine Awards, including the President’s Medal for the best article published in Canada in the year 2000. The judges described his account of an intimate conversation with Saul Bellow, called “Love, Friendship and the Art of Dying,” as “brilliantly sustained from beginning to end…[a] multi-levelled piece about writing, friendship, life and death [that] opens a door into the complex lives of two extraordinary literary figures.”
The Brain That Changes Itself
Reviews have been positive from academics in the neuroplasticity field, with frequent praise of Doidge's writing style. Neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp stated it is "A rich banquet of brain-mind plasticity, communicated in a brilliantly clear writing style." The Brain That Changes Itself has been translated into 18 languages so far. It was the #1 bestseller in both Canada and Australia. In 2008, it was one of the Amazon US top ten science books of 2008, as well as being listed under "top books" by Amazon Canada, Globe and Mail (Canada), and Slate. The book became the all-time bestseller at both the Sydney Writers' Festival, and the Brisbane Writers Festival.
The Brain's Way of Healing
Doidge's book, The Brain's Way of Healing (January 2015), focuses on treating brain injury and illness through neuroplastic healing. Doidge discusses cases where patients recovered from conditions including long-term chronic pain, strokes, autism, and other "near-miracle recoveries."
Film and television
In July 2009, Doidge co-wrote and appeared in a documentary television program for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in which he traveled across North America observing case studies and demonstrating examples of neuroplasticity in The Brain That Changes Itself. The film was directed by Mike Sheerin and produced by 90th Parallel Productions. And in 2010, he participated in a follow-up documentary by the same production company called "Changing Your Mind". This documentary looked at how neuroplasticity and the changing brain is used to treat mental disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress, and schizophrenia. "Changing Your Mind" aired on CBC's The Nature of Things. A longer version of both films has been co-produced by Arte for distribution in Europe. His work was also featured in, and used as part of the narrative basis for, the PBS special, "The Brain Fitness Program," which became PBS's most successful fundraising program of all time. Doidge's work has been the subject of a number of full length TV programs in the English speaking world. Doidge hosted the 25-hour TVO television series, Mysteries of the Mind: From Brilliant to Broken on TVO. He appears on radio and television programs, and has been on PBS, NPR, CBS, CNN, ABC, TVO, CTV, CBC among others.