Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mindsight by Dr. Dan Siegel - book review

The book does not exaggerate when it says it offers ‘The new science of personal transformation’

Review by | Urmi Chanda-Vaz

Even before I got around to understanding the idea of mindsight, I was reminded of the vast and inexhaustible powers that our minds and brains have. Reading this book by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel was like revisiting all those postgraduate psychology classes from years ago. I thought I had forgotten them, but with page after page, recollections of all the major concepts came tumbling out. I could pick up on the trail where I had left it. We truly never forget anything entirely. Our entire pasts and tremendous capacities for our futures lie within our minds. Mindsight is about channeling the vastness of the treasure of the mind.

One of the first things about this book is that it can be understood, enjoyed and applied equally by a mental health professional, a wellness expert, and a layperson, who wants to live an enriched  life. Mindsight, as Dr. Siegel defines it, is ‘a process that enables us to monitor and modify the flow of energy and information within the Triangle of Wel-Being’. One can learn to observe one’s own thought processes, the motivation behind actions, the formation of reactions, and thus guide one’s behaviour in fruitful ways. In simpler terms, mindsight is cultivating heightened mindfulness.

The book is written in two sections. The first section explains the basics of the brain - its anatomy, structure and functions, and is meant for those who either have no background in psychology or who, like me, would like to brush up on their fundamentals. It is in this section that the author introduces the readers to the common hand model of the brain, which he uses repeatedly in his therapy chapters later on in the book.
The second section is about Mindsight. Professionals may jump straight to this section, and begin to delve into this innovative therapeutic process formulated by Dr. Siegel. In every chapter in this section, the author begins with a case study from his own practice, which focuses on one issue. Non-clinical and common issues like those of relationships, self image, self confidence, phobias, and psychosomatic pains are highlighted in these case studies. Dr. Siegel then demonstrates, how with the help of mindsight, he helps his patients integrate their pasts and presents,  find and rectify problem patterns in their relationships, and open up channels of communication.

Dr. Siegel explains that the points of the relationships-mind-brain Triangle (of Well-being) are interconnected, and how one cannot do without the other. Through a simplistic model of the brain, he explains how our brains are wired, how mindsight can help form new neural circuits, and consequently ‘grow’ our brains and our ability to form nurturing relationships with ourselves and those surrounding us.
Apart from the application of mindsight in a professional setting, it is a great tool for everyday living. Mindsight empowers us with empathy, positivity, and clear reasoning, and can be applied to fix many problems in life. It is, as the book proclaims, a powerful new tool for personal transformation. Moreover, the book is easy to grasp with concepts so lucid, that anyone will be able to understand and apply its simple yet powerful principles. Mindsight helps cultivate wellness in our minds, which then extends to our bodies, and finally our entire lives. It is a good book to read and keep at home, in spas and wellness centres, offices, or any place where people matter. 

About the author
Dr. Daniel J. Siegel is a psychiatrist with nearly two decades of experience and is currently the clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine. Apart from that he is the executive director of the Mindsight Institute and the author of several groundbreaking books on the same subject.


The article appeared in the May-June 2012 issue of Spa Mantra and can be read on the website as well.

No comments: