VT and the Brain’s Way of Healing

I’ve blogged before about Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist who has almost single-handedly popularized the concept of neuroplasticity through his hugely best-selling book, The Brain That Changes Itself which has sold over a million copies around the world.  I just read Dr. Doidge’s new book, The Brain’s Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity, which elaborates on many of the topics covered in his previous work.


In the opening of his lovely talk from Melbourne Conversations, Dr. Doidge points out that the concept of “Neurons That Fire Together Wire Together” was actually introduced by Sigmund Freud through his “Law of Association by Simultaneity”.

I would highly recommend that you read The Brain’s Way of Healing cover-to-cover, but want to highlight one paragraph on page 222:

“Related to natural vision therapy is the relatively unknown field of behavioral optometry, which for almost one hundred years has understood that vision is a group of skills that can be trained.  The field relies on neuroplasticity.  The neurobiologist Susan Barry, Ph.D., spent fifty years with two-dimensional vision because she had strabismus – her eyes were misaligned … With neuroplasticity-based training from her behavioral optometrist, Barry reawakened and rebalanced her visual cortex and finally experienced 3-D at the age of fifty, as she compellingly described in her book Fixing My Gaze.”

Doidge New Book


This passage struck me because I’m often asked by parents and professionals during seminars, case conferences in our practice, and through email inquiries, whether optometric vision therapy is something new.  On the one hand it’s tempting to say that this is a new field, and that’s why other professionals haven’t heard about it, or frankly misunderstand it.  On the other hand it’s tempting to say that this field has been around for many years, and therefore has a track record of predictable success and not investigational or experimental in nature.  As Doidge rightfully points out, the truth resides in between.  Optometric vision therapy is a 100 year-old field that has become new again through the prism of neuroplasticity.  Part, yet only part of the reason that Western Medicine has difficulty relating to vision therapy, is highlighted by Doidge in his new book as a reticence to discard old rigidities.

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