Topics: Mind, Human brain, Phantom limb Pages: 5 (1746 words) Published: October 8, 2014
Zuleika Rodriguez
Professor Alan Schlechter/ Daniel Lerner (Nick Jensen)
The Science of Happiness
October 1, 2014
The Moment of Change
Faith, courage and willpower are some values that have shaped me into the character that I am today. Following upon the numerous and impacting conflicts I had throughout my life, I can recall my family reunion last summer. In a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, he states, “Be an opener of doors for such as come after thee, and do not try to make the universe a blind alley”. Who would know that those words would somehow apply to me in a rolling whirlwind of uncontrollable events? As I peruse The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, I noted that the chapters of Pain, Imagination, and, Turning out Ghosts into Ancestors somehow retold my story of my family reunion last summer.

As the hot summer day had started, I felt the warmth and love from my family that I had not seen for such a long time.  We prepared for a big trip to go to a beach resort.  At first, I was full of excitement when I heard the great amenities that the resort provided.  However, my fear of drowning in the vast ocean had become an overwhelming fear that had developed throughout my life. It was a taunting constant reminder of how afraid I was to lose control, trust myself, and rely on others for help. Nevertheless, even if I learned how to swim, would I still be in this never-ending fear? With many years of struggle, this is what I wanted to change. Moreover, I thought of this arduous path to change very significant. Not only because it is vital for my overall wellbeing, but because I will gain confidence, strength, and most importantly happiness.

As I would sunbathe, I enjoyed looking at the crystal clear blue waters with all its beauty and intensity. Around others, staying at close proximity to the beach without going in for a swim, proved to be a great challenge. I kept saying to myself that I should not be afraid and that as an intellectual being, I should be able to conquer my fears and try something new. I was imagining myself as the greatest swimmer. All of a sudden, we were approaching the beach. I could see my family rushing in as they swim away really fast without care. I was alone! I was too far in to turn back and too far away to be heard.  As I took another step forward, I lost my ground and all control, as a sudden under current pushed me even deeper into the ocean.  I was drowning, screaming, and crying simultaneously. With great despair and pain, I also had twisted my ankle. As I was drowning, I kept thinking how ironic it was that I was surrounded by my entire family, my support system and yet, they could not hear me. Finally, I thought to myself that this is how it must feel to get so close to achieving something and falling short.  All of a sudden, I felt a hand pushing me away from the ocean and the current. At that precise instant, I held on tight and took a deep breath. I was rescued by a stranger! I could not believe that I was alive! It took several months to overcome my fear, but even so it still comes again whenever I go for a swim. At that moment, I needed to access whether letting go of the past was a good advice. Nevertheless, conquering my fear of swimming served to me as a metaphor when I read about other similar experiences in The Brain that Changes Itself. In the chapter of Pain, Norman Doidge invites us to “Think how remarkable this is—for a most excruciating, chronic pain, a whole new treatment that uses imagination and illusion to restructure brain maps plastically without medication, needles, or electricity” (Doidge, 194). In rare cases, after people have lost their limbs, they still report the feeling or even seeing it. This happens because of the signals in the brain indicating where pain is present. Since the brain keeps detecting pain, it sends signals to feel the no longer present pain. Dr. Ramachandran experimented with amputee Phillip, and was able to cure his...
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