Brain Talk offers what you need to know about mind mapping and the emerging brain science of interpersonal neurobiology (how interacting with other people affects your brain). Brain Talk is written for the general public in an easy-to-read style and establishes a personal relationship with you. It creates vivid pictures in your mind with attention-grabbing examples, and walks you into powerful new understandings of yourself and the people who populate your life. Reading Brain Talk can be a life-changing experience!
From the Introduction:
People who seek therapy frequently want a magic bullet that wipes away all their ills after just one visit. Psychotherapy doesn’t work that way, of course. But I’ve discovered some things that can vastly improve your functioning with a single exposure. Over the past twelve years I’ve developed Crucible® Neurobiological Therapy, which I’ve observed to be truly life–changing and transformative. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say this book has the power to greatly improve your life.
This revolutionary therapy emerged from troubled origins. During my four–decade–long career helping couples with sex, intimacy and relationship problems, many went on to have happier marriages, healthier families and more functional lives. Of particular interest to me, however, were those who didn’t thrive. What you’ll read here comes from studying my clients who did the worst.
It’s not like I was dealing with large sample sizes. From time to time I’d have a couple that didn’t do well. Sometimes I would even have two. But on one occasion I got incredibly lucky. I had three couples that weren’t making progress! I say “lucky” because, as many scientists attest, groundbreaking discoveries often emerge from disappointing failures.
But to tell the truth, I wasn’t feeling very scientific or fortunate at the time. Having three fail–to–thrive couples at once bothered me. I was frustrated. However, this also allowed me to do something having just one failing couple didn’t. “What do they have in common?” I asked myself. “Do couples who don’t do well in therapy share a common factor? How can I help these people?”
Around the same time I started studying my treatment failures, the nascent field of interpersonal neurobiology emerged. Modern brain science was in full swing, especially Theory of Mind, the study of humankind’s ability to recognize other people’s mental states as well as our own. I found this language too abstract and unwieldy, so I devised my own take on the subject: Mind mapping, the brain’s ability to make a mental map of another person’s mind, was born. You’ll get a nuanced and elaborate explanation of mind mapping in the first part of this book. Pretty quickly I think you’ll see why mind mapping completely captivated me.
To make a long story short, it turned out that the missing link among my fail–to–thrive couples had everything to do with mind mapping. (I’ll tell you what I discovered in Part Two.) Applying what I learned about mind mapping proved to be a game changer. Mind mapping exponentially advanced my prior decades of work. This helped me identify root problems facing my fail–to–thrive couples, and allowed me to develop new treatments to help them. This eventually evolved into Crucible Neurobiological Therapy. (We’ll cover this in Part Three.)
By looking at their lives through the lens of mind mapping, my clients began to see themselves, their partners, and their relationships in entirely new ways. Long–avoided difficult truths not only came to the surface, my hard–core couples were more willing and able to deal with them. Even highly troubled couples from very difficult backgrounds revitalized their marriages and developed better relationships, healthier families, and more productive lives.
Two things really caught my attention: The first was how learning about mind mapping really helped couples thrive. Partners weren’t just happier with themselves and each other. They reported being better able to handle all the important relationships in their lives. Many said their typical thoughts and feelings—their general state of mind—changed for the better. I also noticed definite changes in their appearance and demeanor. They looked better, their eyes were more alive, and their faces were more appealing. Some women reported girlfriends asking if they’d had Botox treatments!
The other astonishing thing was how quickly this happened. For the last three decades, my practice has consisted of people from around the world who fly to Evergreen Colorado for four days of three–hour intensive therapy sessions. My no–nonsense direct–talking therapy is well known for being fast–paced. So trust me, I’m used to fast and intense. But applying mind mapping to Crucible Therapy was like igniting a booster rocket. It’s been an integral component of my therapy ever since.
Although I’ve been developing my methodology over the last twelve years, I haven’t shared it with the general public until now. Only recently have I started teaching this to other therapists. I’m a natural skeptic, especially of my own work. It’s taken me this long to study mind mapping’s effects on the brain, package my methods into a teachable protocol, and convince myself of its effectiveness.
After I gave a lecture in Germany in 2015, I knew it was time to share this with a broader audience. It was scheduled for two hours (I was working with a translator), but it actually lasted three. There were seven hundred people in attendance, and, although I talked an hour longer than I was supposed to, virtually no one got up and walked out. You would think after two hours of fairly heavy material most would leave, but everyone stayed. People were riveted.
Afterwards I was blown away by the audience’s response. One person told me, “My life has opened up. Mind mapping creates an entirely new reality for me. It makes me view my past and present completely differently, and I see a whole new future for me.” That’s the sort of impact mind mapping can have on you. It radically changes your view of your life and everyone in it.
The same thing happens when therapists learn about mind mapping. I discovered this when I conducted the initial professional training workshops in Europe and America. The jaws of therapists dropped in shock. Because many had spent lots of time and money in their own personal therapies, they were stunned by the new personal insights and revised life histories they developed during the workshops. They also understood their own patients so very differently, their prior therapeutic methods looked naive. This showed me how one exposure to this information can have tremendous impact.
I think one reason for this powerful effect is that it enters your brain so quickly and easily. Your brain just eats up this information. Then it starts generating new understandings of the important people and past and current experiences in your life. This happens so fast, it’s almost like mind mapping speaks the brain’s language. This prompted me to coin the phrase “brain talk.” It’s the best way to describe mind mapping’s incredible accessibility and potency.
In Brain Talk, you’ll read a lot about the brain. As you learn about mind mapping, your brain gains knowledge of itself. For instance, there can be undetected gaps in your mind–mapping radar. Did you know your mind mapping shuts down under certain conditions? Once your brain knows this, it starts to take this into account. Without this knowledge, you probably underestimate other people’s mind–mapping ability.
Did you know that you can also be blind to what’s going on in your own mind, at the very moment you’re insisting you’re the master of it? Once you learn about mind mapping, your brain reorganizes the autobiographical story of your life, and the meaning of events that populate it. Your picture of who you are and how you got this way changes, as does your view of all the people in your life.
This transformation brings forth moments of profound insight. Sometimes it’s an “aha!” moment. Other times it’s more like, “Oh no!” Pleasing or not, most people find this new awareness helps them function better in daily life. (Parts Two and Three show you how to trigger this process.) That’s why learning about mind mapping is so rewarding. It applies to every aspect of your life: sex, intimacy, money, fractious children, elderly parents, touchy in–laws, difficult bosses, petulant coworkers, and on and on.
Pretty quickly, you’ll see mind mapping everywhere you look. Trips to the supermarket or department store will never be the same. As you walk down the aisles, other people’s interactions turn into dramatic vignettes. You recognize a husband trying to tell his wife she doesn’t look good in a dress she’s tried on without explicitly saying so. You watch a teenage daughter trying to manipulate her mother into buying her a provocative outfit by implanting the false belief all her girlfriends dress this way. Elsewhere, a mother tells her screaming three–year–old she’s going to leave him in the store if he doesn’t take her hand and walk out with her. You realize the cashier at the checkout counter is being overly solicitous to the attractive shopper standing in front of you. Then you go home and use mind mapping to convince your husband you really need something you bought! All the dramas surrounding you are suddenly illuminated.
Mind mapping isn’t some abstract theory. It’s a tangible process that’s clearly observable. It’s been analyzed with sophisticated brain scanners in hundreds of research studies. Mind mapping occurs constantly in interpersonal relations. It never stops. You can’t help but be profoundly influenced by it. Mind mapping lies at the core of the best interpersonal experiences you can have (including sex). Unfortunately, however, it’s also part of the worst ones (sex too).
For better and worse, humans are natural-born mind mappers. It’s an important innate ability that can be further developed and has many practical applications. Learning about the negative brain impacts of traumatic mind mapping takes away your complacency about dealing with highly troubled relationships. It lights a fire under you. It makes you get off your butt and do what’s necessary to improve your life and the lives of everyone around you.
A large part of Crucible Neurobiological Therapy can be self–administered. You don’t need a therapist to guide you through it. (I recommend discussing this with your therapist if you have one. Moreover, this book is not a substitute for therapy you may be needing.) However, therapists are unavailable in many places in the world. Brain Talk is my response to this obstacle. The pragmatic step–by–step things I’ll describe can help people who might otherwise not have access to a therapist.
In order to give you something that might really help you, what I’ll describe may be troubling at times. This can also trigger disturbing memories. Part Two focuses on traumatic mind mapping, the damage done when mapping out someone’s mind negatively impacts your brain and mind. There I’ll describe troubling things that often occur in marriage and parenting, including dark secrets the general public refuses to acknowledge. This no–nonsense view of human nature might disturb folks who’d rather see the world through rose–colored glasses.
When I describe unfortunate life experiences in Part Two, take comfort that Part Three provides effective solutions for problems caused by these experiences. You’ll find detailed information about how to resolve traumatic mind mapping. I’ll also teach you how to handle difficult people who are capable of frying your brain. To conclude, I’ll show how to use mind mapping to create really lovely experiences, like increasing intimacy in your marriage, enhancing relationships with your children and aging parents, improving the atmosphere at your workplace, and deepening your friendships.
Doing therapy for over thirty years has made me a realistic optimist. Make no mistake, Brain Talk appeals to the best of human nature, rather than the worst. I’ve certainly seen the worst in people, yet I’ve always been more impressed by just how good the best in people can be. I constantly work with people from truly deplorable backgrounds, harmed by the most severe traumatic mind mapping. But I haven’t developed a negative worldview. That’s because I’ve learned how to help these folks turn their lives around. Most times I get to watch people from highly dysfunctional families dramatically improve their lives. I hope reading Brain Talk infuses you with a similar positive attitude.
Ultimately, I hope Brain Talk helps you appreciate how much we are all inextricably interconnected, how we impact each other’s brains with our minds and not simply our behavior. You can make the world around you a better place, simply by cleaning up your inner mental world. Legislation and law enforcement will never, by themselves, end sexual and emotional abuse, racism, terrorism, and other forms of discrimination, persecution, and exploitation. For this, we must look into our own minds and hearts. That’s where the world we all want to live in starts.
Dr. David Schnarch
June 26, 2017