A century ago psychology began trying to help people change their thoughts, feelings, behavior and performance through a series of theories of the mind. At that time—and for decades after—very little was known about the brain, so psychology focused on diagnosing disorders and trying to change people’s minds from the outside by talking.
More recently there has been growing recognition that mind and body are not two separate things. The mind is our inner experience of the way our brain processes information. From behaviorism and beyond, new techniques have focused more on the brain, but psychology remains grounded in its core concept of mental disorders and diagnoses.
More than a decade of research, however, has made it increasingly clear that our thoughts, feelings, behaviors and performance are natural outgrowths of stable patterns of activation in our brains. What’s more, they can be changed by changing those brain “habits” in ways that are just as permanent as our “problems” have been. And for many of us this can be done without diagnoses, without medications.