Research in Clinical Trials Led By Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz

The medical field merges with philosophical studies in clinical trials performed by Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz. Dr. Schwartz is a UCLA psychiatrist that is highly trained in neuroplasticity and the treatment of the obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). His studies have proven cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on mindfulness can reshape and transform our minds. The ability of humans to practice mindfulness that changes the brain’s function supposes the existence of free will.

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Much of the research Dr. Schwartz participates in involves the diagnosis and treatment of OCD.

OCD is a mental disorder in which a person experiences irrational obsessions and compulsions that interfere with daily living. OCD patients are often go undiagnosed and untreated within the medical realm.

Dr. Schwartz saw his OCD patients as prime examples of how the power of the mind can prevail over the physical components of the brain. Dr. Schwartz was effectively able to treat OCD patients using a four step CBT approach. The four steps in this method involve first relabeling obsessive thoughts and urges as intrusive and artificial messages.

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Then reattributing these obsessive thoughts and urges to their original cause, the result of a pathological condition. After refocusing is used to shift the brains attention from the obsessive thoughts and urges to something positive. Once these steps are completed one can revalue the obsessive thoughts and urges. The patient will in effect realize obsessions and compulsions hold no true value in their everyday life. Adhering to these four steps requires tremendous willpower which is a major component of free will. The ability to participate in this process will in effect change the OCD subject’s brain chemistry.

The chemical changes in the brain following CBT is scientifically proven using positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Dr. Schwartz studies PET imaging prior to CBT and following CBT treatment. In patients with OCD prior to treatment their brains show an increase in glucose metabolism and an overly active orbitofrontal cortex. With the use of CBT there was a shift in metabolic activity and the brain was effectively remodeled. The discovery of chemical changes in the brain after utilizing CBT proves epiphenomenalism is an unreliable theory. Epiphenomenalism is the idea that physical components exclusively result in human consciousness.

This theory also states that all physical mechanisms determine mental functions but not vice versa. The PET scans Dr. Schwartz produced in his trials refute epiphenomenalism since the images provide scientific evidence that mental awareness (mindfulness) can alter physical components within the brain. Mental effort is a key component in Dr. Schwartz’s studies. This notion is taken a step further when Dr. Schwartz describes the mind as a mental force in is book The Mind and The Brain. Dr. Schwartz describes mental force as “a physical force generated by mental effort”.  In other words, mindfulness cannot be viewed as predetermined thought or action it is something every human has control over.

It shows that OCD patients are conscious beings that can alter the chemical makeup of their own brains by modifying the way they think. The work of Dr. Schwartz has benefited both the fields of health and philosophy. Dr. Schwartz has completed clinical trials on OCD patients that support not only treatment of the condition, through CBT, but actual physical changes that are likely to occur during the process. The insight he provides reinforces the argument that human beings possess the ability to consciously make choices that are not governed by the physical components of our brains. Dr. Schwartz and his PET images in effect have proven free will is possible and should not be dismissed.

Updated: Jan 08, 2022
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Research in Clinical Trials Led By Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz. (2022, Jan 08). Retrieved from

Research in Clinical Trials Led By Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz essay
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