• Steve Derenge

Switch on Your Brain Ch. 1 Reflections


At this point, a friend and I decided to go through the book Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf so that we may discuss each chapter, apply its truths to our lives, share what we are learning with yet somebody else, and challenge them to do the same. Having read through the Introduction and Chapter 1 about a week ago, here are some take of my personal takeaways.

Dr. Caroline Leaf is a neuroscientist who has studied the brain for the past 25+ years. She even pioneered research in the field by conducting research studies on patients with “incurable” conditions due to brain damage. At that time, the prevailing scientific view held that the brain was static rather than neuroplastic. That is, scientists believed that the brain could not change, rewire, or repair itself, so that if a person had brain damage, that person was doomed to their poor neurological and physiological state for the rest of their lives.

However, despite what the previous conventional science and culture believed about the brain, Dr. Leaf was convinced what God, who created and designed the brain, said in His book:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 ESV (1)

“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” Romans 12:2 TPT

In other words, Dr. Leaf was convinced that the mind can change the structure of the brain. We are not relegated to live with negative thinking patterns, bad habits, or physiological disorders for life, but in most cases we can choose a different reality via a process of changing the way we think. We don't have to live filled with self-hatred, self-rejection, fear, anxiety, stress, rage, uncontrollable lust, and other negative thinking patterns and emotions (from which 75-98% of diseases--many “incurable”--emanate). (2) We can choose life (Greek: zoe) by replacing those toxic thinking patterns with positive ones as we are filled with love, courage, and a sound mind. C.f. Deuteronomy 30:19; 2 Timothy 1:7.

As Dr. Leaf has explained, science is finally catching up with the Bible. Nowadays, the prevailing scientific view is that the brain is neuroplastic, that the brain (neurology) and even DNA (epigenetics) are able to change, and that this change occurs according to the way we choose to think. I look forward to learning more of Dr. Leaf's incredible insight from the perspective of a world-renowned neuroscientist as I continue to read her book with friends.

In my own life, I have experienced a journey with some similarities to Dr. Leaf's. Although I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as a young child, my knowledge of God's word in Romans 12:2 and throughout the Bible led me to conclude that I should not relegate myself to a permanent state of a shameful mental disorder. I knew instinctively that God wouldn't give commands in the Bible related to acting with emotional and social maturity if God did not also provide the empowerment and resources to do so. For example, in high school, I came across and meditated on Ephesians 5:3:

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” Ephesians 5:3‭ NIV

I knew that since God wouldn't have commanded His children to do something without also giving them the ability to do it (by the power of His Spirit of holiness), then no matter what the culture says, it is possible and necessary to live without even a hint of lust in one's life. Because I meditated on this truth day and night, changing the way I thought, I could live a pure and holy life throughout high school, treating young women with respect as sisters and challenging young men to treat them in the same way. C.f. 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Joshua 1:8, Romans 12:2; Hebrews 12:14; Matthew 5:8,27-30; etc.

For the past few years, I have continued to learn the truth that “God don't make no junk.” In other words, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

“For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 TPT

In other words, if we are overly shy or timid to the point of unnecessary isolation, shame, loneliness, reclusion, etc., then that attitude did not come from God. That toxic thinking pattern came from hell rather than from heaven. Thus, it stood to reason that if Asperger's Syndrome contained any symptoms or characteristics that didn't correspond to the promises of God's word for those in a relationship with Him through Jesus the Messiah, then I don't have to accept any label or identity that contradicts the promises of God's word insofar as I meet the conditions for those promises.

In this case, I didn't have to claim Asperger's Syndrome for myself, because over a process of years of being transfigured by the renewing of my mind with truth, which consequently has rewired my brain and changed my DNA by the same power that rose Jesus from there dead, my behavior increasingly reflected the sound mind I was created to have as I continue to change the way I think and up-root any negative influence in my life. To paraphrase Dr. Bill Bright, the trustworthiness and promises of God’s word, not our feelings [nor prevailing cultural or medical views that contradict what God’s Word says], is our authority. (2) Therefore, I pattern and change the way I think (repent) according to the trustworthiness of the promises of God’s word, not the opinions and views of a culture that lacks experiential knowledge of those promises. See Romans 8:11; 12:2,9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Ephesians 3:16ff; 2 Timothy 1:7.

For more information about entering into a personal relationship with God, after which His Spirit can transform you from the inside-out, here are a few other blog posts:

Crushing Pride

God Can Change Your DNA and Desires

How to Quit Smoking in 3 Difficult Steps

  1. Leaf, Caroline. Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health. p. 19-21. Kindle.

  2. For more in-depth study, see also this 771 page .pdf here for your reference: Healing Begins with Sanctification of the Heart: “No Disease is Incurable.” by Dr. M.K. Strydom.

  3. From Would You Like to Know God Personally? A version of the Four Spiritual Laws, written by Bill Bright. [brackets mine]



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