Norman Doidge, M.D., is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, researcher, author, essayist and poet. He is on faculty at the University of Toronto’s Department of Psychiatry, and Research Faculty at Columbia University’s Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, in New York. He is the author of two New York Times Bestsellers. He lives in Toronto.
After winning the E.J. Pratt Prize for Poetry at age 19, Doidge won early recognition from the literary critic Northrop Frye, who wrote that his work was “really remarkable… haunting and memorable.” At the University of Toronto, he studied classics and philosophy, and graduated with high distinction, then earned his medical degree. In New York, he simultaneously completed psychiatric and psychoanalytic training at the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, followed by two years as a Columbia-National Institute of Mental Health Research Fellow, studying research techniques, and another year as a Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry at Columbia.
Early writing accomplishments
In 1994, Doidge won The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Saturday Night Literary Award, the most important award for an unpublished work in Canada, for his personal memoir, “The Suit.” He became editor-in-chief of Books in Canada—The Canadian Review of Books from 1995 to 1998 and, from 1998 to 2001, a newspaper columnist, writing “On Human Nature” in the National Post. His series of literary portraits of exceptional people at moments of transformation appeared in Saturday Night magazine and won four Canadian National Magazine Gold Awards, including the National Magazine Award President’s Medal, for the best article published in Canada in the year 2000. That account of his intimate conversation with the Nobel laureate Saul Bellow, called “Love, Friendship and the Art of Dying,” was “brilliantly sustained from beginning to end,” said the judges, who continued, “This multi-leveled piece about writing, friendship, life and death opens a door into the complex lives of two extraordinary literary figures.”
It was out of these kinds of portraits—and Doidge’s conviction that neuroplasticity represents the single most important new idea in our understanding of the human brain in hundreds of years, with immense consequences for our understanding of human nature, human and therapeutic possibilities, and human culture— that The Brain That Changes Itself emerged.