“Sane New World”: Ruby Wax Says We Can Change Our Brains

Wax says that human beings are simply not equipped to deal with the crushing demands of 21st-century living, with its deluded update on Descartes: “I’m busy therefore I am.” Allison Pearson, The Telegraph, regarding Sane New World

Comedian Ruby Wax has been speaking out about her own mental health issues for years. (See my previous post about her.)

In her new book Sane New World Wax now shares what she’s learned about mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, an area in which she’s gotten her Master’s degree. Her publisher: “…(S)he explains how our busy, chattering, self-critical thoughts drive us to anxiety and stress. If we are to break the cycle, we need to understand how our brains work, rewire our thinking and find calm in a frenetic world.”

Although she dedicates the book “to my mind, which at one point left town,” she directs it to both the “mad-mad” (those who identify with having mental illness) and the “normal-mad” (everyone else).

Wax opens the book with information about her episodes of depression. She believes, she tells Antonia Macaro and Julian Baggini, FT.com, that depression is biological, not “situation-appropriate.” Furthermore, whether about her own life or that of others, “’Failure or success has nothing to do with the disease, nothing,’ she insists. ‘Think of it as every other disease. Depression is like cancer, shingles or diabetes, there is no link.’”

It’s her explanation of the role of the brain in our emotional lives that’s been the better reviewed section of Sane New World. Bella BathurstThe Guardian, calls it “the clearest I’ve seen” on this topic.

When in the midst of one’s illness, medication is the way to go, says Wax. However, when not in the midst of it, the mindfulness techniques she advocates can be preventive and/or helpful.

By using mindfulness techniques, we can observe emotions, decide whether they’re rational, and make appropriate changes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *