Millions of Americans suffer from chronic illnesses and conditions that doctors can’t seem to help them overcome. Sometimes there’s a clear cause, such as with Lyme disease. In other cases, mysterious symptoms begin to build up and accumulate until the body is badly compromised. Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome can ruin daily life — careers, marriages, families. Electric Hypersensitivity Syndrome, and food, chemical, sound and light sensitivities can make a walk outside or a trip to a store turn into a nightmare. But according to Annie Hopper, there’s no mystery as to how this happens. It has to do with how the brain reacts to trauma.
Hopper is an expert in health and a journalist who cured herself of a years-long debilitating condition. She’s since become a go-to resource for those with chronic pain and ailments. Her new book, Wired for Healing: Remapping the Brain to Recover from Chronic an Mysterious Illnesses is based on the remarkable discovery that the brain itself can trap us in dysfunction. Hit with physical, emotional or chemical trauma, it gets caught in a state of alarm that can’t shut off. And the body is swept into this state of perpetual siege, turning on itself, malfunctioning, and stuck.
The connection between the brain and the body is of course far more complex than a book review can elucidate, and the best way to learn about it is to read this terrific book. The bottom line is that the brain is far more capable of short-circuiting the body than we understood, but also far more able to remap its own neural pathways. This quality, known as neuroplasticity, is a revelation that has changed how we approach many chronic conditions.
Hopper created a program that teaches people how to rewire their own brain, in effect, and countless participants have reclaimed their lives. Hopper writes about this all with warmth, clarity and skill, explaining complicated physiological topics in language that’s easy to understand yet isn’t dumbed down. And along with a wellspring of information are real-life accounts by people who used Hopper’s method to heal. They talk about the hardships they faced when overwhelmed with symptoms, the dead ends as they sought treatments, and finally, that incredible sense of relief as they embarked on a road back to health. It’s impossible to be unmoved.
The book is part personal journey and part guidebook, and for readers who find it useful, there’s a whole system, with workshops, seminars, coaching, DVDs and workbooks: the Dynamic Neural Retraining System. This is a completely non-invasive, drug-free method of retraining the brain that is clearly transforming lives. It’s exciting to witness. Wired for Healing will undoubtedly fill readers with new hope, whether for themselves or for their loved ones.
Lee Sanford is a writer, books editor and long time book reviewer based on the East Coast.