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TUCoPS :: Wetware Hacking :: Others :: ochs.txt

New Light on lights, sounds, and the brain




FROM: MEGABRAIN REPORT, VOL. 2 NO. 3
Edited by Michael Hutchison



                    BRAINWAVE DISENTRAINMENT:


           NEW LIGHT ON LIGHTS, SOUNDS, AND THE BRAIN

                      by Len Ochs,  Ph.D. 

Light and sound machines--devices that combine rhythmic photic
and auditory stimulation and seem to alter or "entrain" brain
wave activity--have been available as consumer products for years
now.  These devices have been used to explore consciousness,
relax, enhance performance and learning, explore altered states,
and enhance sleep and energy, to name but a small selection of
goals.  

I am not aware of any reasonable scientific studies, much less
controlled studies, of the therapeutic effectiveness of light and
sound stimulation devices. However, if there's fire where there's
smoke, formal studies or no, these devices must be doing enough
to warrant their sharply increasing sales over the past few
years. Reliable reports of significant benefit are few, but they
are clearly frequent enough to sell increasing numbers of these
devices in the context of enhanced functioning, as well as
widespread desires to stay away from both drugs and the
relatively poor efficacy of medical treatment for some chronic
conditions. I have, on occasion, heard second hand stories of
these devices producing effects that seem nothing less than
miraculous. 

My negative bias and disposition toward these devices showed
clearly, even in the face of Marion Diamond's and W. Grey
Walter's pioneering work on stimulation.  So it is with a
distinct sense of embarrassment that I must report my own
observations of a light and sound device that produces reliable
and important results within certain domains of problems.

In the process of working on one technical problem, I designed a
sound and light system that would customize itself to the user's
brain waves on a moment to moment basis. By using the
individual's EEG to set and reset the stimulation frequency, the
stimulation would always, then, be customized to the user's brain
wave states. This system, which I called EEG Entrainment Feedback
(EEF) would, I thought, constitute a non-directive
psychotechnology whose course would be set by the person's brain,
but which in turn would be influenced by the stimulation.

I had the biofeedback J&J I-330 EEG and the Synergizer
light/sound device from Synetic Systems.  EEG software was
designed to link these two devices allowing the person's EEG to
change the frequency of the lights and sounds, and the
stimulation, in turn, to change the EEG.  That covers the
electronics and computer side of the system.

The clinical effects of this system were entirely unpredictable
to me.  This link had not been attempted before to my knowledge. 
There was certainly nothing in the literature which described the
EEG-stimulation link, what the effects of it might be, what
problems might be encountered, and how it might be used.

I tried out the EEF system and found it a much more visually
beautiful than I found the traditional sound and light
stimulation.  It seemed more alive and responsive to my brain
waves than was the fixed-frequency or pre-programmed slowly
ramping stimulation I had previously tried.  Although only red
LEDs were used at that time, the visible patterns and rich colors
varied closely with the measured EEG frequencies.

Interested, but not especially aware of any unusual ability of
the system, I introduced it to some patients who had a great deal
of psychotherapy, biofeedback, and even EEG brainwave
biofeedback, but who needed results that were clearer, faster,
and more meaningful than brought about by these procedures.   One
man had 20 years of rages, many of which lasted two weeks at a
time.  The family was threatened with divorce because of the
unacceptability of his explosiveness.  He was unable to work
because of his temper.  Another patient was a woman who worked
for a major retail chain as an upper-level manager and had been
exposed to increasing work pressure over the past few years,
capped by threats of bodily harm to her and her family by ex-
employees.  She had been unable to go to work and was extremely
depressed and anxious.  Both of these individuals were very
highly motivated, and very bright.  Both wanted to work again;
and both felt the shame of being out of work.  The man highly
valued his family and wanted to continue in it.  What follows are
lessons I learned using EEF to work with these two individuals
and others.

LESSON ONE:  People can be hypersensitive to their own brain
waves.  Within two minutes of feeding back EEG-driven sound and
lights the woman began to complain of back, neck, and head pain. 
I had set the system to lower her EEG by flashing the lights a
little slower than her dominant frequency.  Increasingly in the
biofeedback field, brain wave biofeedback was being used to teach
people with post-traumatic stress disorders to voluntarily lower
their average brain wave frequencies.  But this woman clearly
experienced tension and muscle contraction pain when her brain
wave frequencies lowered.  If lowering her EEG produced pain, I
wondered if increasing her EEG by flashing the lights slightly
faster than her dominant frequency would keep her from pain. Cont
rary to the wisdom of conventional EEG biofeedback, it did.  

Her responses suggested to me that she was hypersensitive to
lower frequencies.  So the strategy I next adopted was to
gradually re-expose her to her lower frequencies, but to do it so
gradually that she would desensitize to them and be able to be
comfortable with them.  So I alternately reduced and sped up the
stimulation by changing the polarity of the difference between
her dominant frequency and the stimulation.  The lights
alternately flashed at slightly faster than her dominant
frequency (thus entraining her brainwaves upward) for one minute,
then slightly slower for the next minute, and so on, reversing
the polarity or direction over the course of a five minute
session, at first, and gradually lengthening the session to 30
minutes.

As I continued exploring this non-directive psychotechnology,
psychologist Jon Cowan's objection to the name EEF began to
stimulate me to fit a new model to the phenomenon I was
witnessing.  EEG Entrainment Feedback still made sense in that
the brain was indeed being entrained by the stimulation (as James
Gleick writes in Chaos: Making of a New Science, "This
phenomenon, in which one regular cycle locks into another, is now
clled entrainment, or mode locking.")  However, in the larger
sense this entrainment was being used to disentrain the brain
from being stuck in a destructive reaction pattern.

Disentrainment refers to the disruption of entrained patterns,
patterns which have become in some way locked.  Disentrainment is
more a p[rocess which leads to the re-establishment of biological
systems flexibility.  As critical as the ability of a system in
its ability to withstand shocks is, in Gleick's words, "how well
a system caqn function over a range of frequencies.  A locking-in
to a single mode can be enslavement, preventing a system from
adapting to change. . . . No heartbeat or respiratory rhythmn can
be locked into the strict periodicities of the simplest physical
models, and the same is true of the subtler rhythms of the rest
of the body" [italics mine].

The linked EEG and LS system I had developed had the effect of
making more flexible a range of neurological and neurochemical
systems from the largest to the scale, and consequently improve
conditions of patients once thought to be largely hopeless.  The
success of this system rests on the integrity and ingenuity of
the research toward this end.  Thus I changed the original name
EEG Entrainment Feedback to the more accurate EEG Disentrainment
Feedback (EDF).

The previously mentioned man afflicted with uncontrollable rages,
a Viet Nam veteran, had suffered these explosive episodes since
his tour of duty.  His temper had decreased ever so slightly over
the course of 40 EEG biofeedback sessions, but clearly not enough
to change his wife's mind about divorcing him.  His sixteen year-
old son was giving the parents increasing problems with temper,
manipulativeness, and mixing with the "wrong crowd" at school. 
The mother was especially concerned that the son was beginning to
imitate "big time" the father's temper, which was too much for
her to handle, and which added to her sense of urgency.  Over a
span of two weeks of daily EEG-driven LS stimulation sessions,
tears would show over the man's cheeks; he felt thermal
hallucinations ("It's as hot as Nam...whoops, it's gone"); he
experienced auditory hallucinations ("I hear the choppers").  In
each of these instances, and in others like them, my only verbal
intervention was a non-technical acknowledgment of what he said:
"Uh-huh,"  or "Yup."  In each of these instances he reassured me
that he was all right.

The protocol I used with this patient was the same that I used
with the woman: if the patient looked uncomfortable or sounded
uncomfortable, I reversed the polarity of the leading frequency,
i.e., alternating between slightly faster and slightly slower
than the dominant brain wave frequency. 

Over the course of two weeks not only did the father's temper
recede, but the son could no longer trigger the father's temper
outbursts (which dazed and confused the son the first times it
happened). In addition, the father became a stable aid to the
mother in the son's management, and exercised good judgment in
the management of his own time so that the mother could at last
depend on the father to show up for appointments, for example,
even when things didn't go his way, or when traffic was
especially bad.

With the progressively lengthening exposures to specific
frequencies that made these individuals uncomfortable, their
comfort with the presence of these frequencies in their spectrum
increased, and their symptomatology decreased.

LESSON TWO: Those with psychological and physical trauma are much
more frequently hypersensitive than normals are to stimulation. 
According to Robert Austin, the president of Synetic Systems of
Seattle--a manufacturer of consumer sound and light stimulation
devices--approximately 5% of their customers have complained
about the brightness of the lights and the loudness of the sounds
(even though the stimulation could be lowered to non-visible and
non-audible levels). However, my continuing work with a
heterogeneous head-injury and mixed psychopathology patient
sample has shown over 80% to be hypersensitive to the light
stimulation to significant degrees.  "Hypersensitive" to
stimulation means that the patients showed or expressed some
degree of discomfort when the stimulation was present.  Often the
sensitivity was so great that the lowest levels of illumination
of the lights were too bright.  Non-verbal signs of over
stimulation were tightening of the chest, restriction of chest
motility, lifting or rounding of the shoulders, flexion of the
neck, or tightening of the jaw.  There were verbal expressions as
well, ranging from "too bright" to "too much flicker" to "too
much red" to cries and grunts of discomfort.  In some cases I
needed to mask the red LEDs embedded on the inside of the glasses
with a sheet or two of manila file folder material in order to
decrease the brightness of the lights low enough so that the
patients could be comfortable with the stimulation.

One woman was so sensitive that she found too bright the lights
when they were shielded with file folder material and placed on
her lap.  Individuals may not even be able to see the lights when
they are so dim; some can, however, feel that the lights are on,
and feel this as apparent changes in blood flow inside their
head, in their scalp, or in their eye lids.  If they are
sensitive to vascular pain, stimulation at the lowest levels may
begin to elicit vascular pain as a fraction of that which they
usually experience--and rarely pain of their usual full
intensity, although full intensity pain has been known to occur
and the patient should be prepared medically to manage it with
the cooperation of his or her physician.

LESSON THREE: The people with the worst symptoms are the most
hypersensitive to LS stimulation.  It is astonishing to link
sound and light sensitivity to symptom intensity.  It is
astonishing because we are not used to documenting central
nervous system status with peripheral problems, or brain
irritability with consciousness, motivation, mood and energy
problems.  It is much more typical to think of psychological
reasons for these problems. Examples of those with extreme
hypersensitivity problems are people unable to tolerate the
flashing at all, even with the lights taped over with black
electrical tape; they may object to the brightness, the flicker
or the color. These people may not beging to respond for 20
sessions, while most of those with less sensitivity can begin to
respond with symptom relief after the first session.


LESSON FOUR: The people who desensitize get better. Not all
patients show hypersensitivity.  However, of those that do show
hypersensitivity, 100% of the over 50 patients I have worked with
showed a decrease in symptoms as they desensitized.  Examples of
this hypersensitivity are someone saying that the lights, colors,
or flicking are making them uncomfortable.  Several kinds of
symptoms reliably improve for those that have suffered
psychological, or mechanical head trauma:  lack of clarity, lack
of energy during the day, sleeping problems at night, depression,
irritability, temper, and explosive episodes, inability to absorb
information auditorily or visually, difficulty prioritizing, poor
short-term memory, difficulty making decisions related to focused
and directed activity, and obsessive thinking.

A 24-year old man with a pre-birth family history of alcohol
abuse and physical violence, multiple head injuries as a young
child and a long history of psychotherapy (along with continued
family addictions, violence, and parental psychiatric
hospitalizations), came in to me for treatment on the referral of
his therapist. He complained of a life-long history of
depression, suicidality (thoughts and attempts), obsessive
thinking, sleeping problems, and the shooting of a family member. 
His skepticism about the possibility of change was immense, as
was his distrust of me as a psychologist and therapist.  Within
the first 10 daily half-hour treatments (given in 1 hour
sessions) he noticed a decrease obsessions and suicidiality.  At
his 22nd session he was in his own words "90%" free of
depression, irritability, temper, and obsession.  He declared
himself to be reliably not suicidal, and was focused on how he
might mobilize himself vocationally to move out of social
security disability. At this time he has completed 45 daily
sessions and his work, energy, productivity and attention have
stabilized.  He will begin once weekly sessions for about six
weeks to taper from treatment.

There was a clear direct relation between the amount of light
stimulation he could comfortably tolerate and his sense of well
being.  It took him twenty sessions to be able to comfortably
tolerate full light intensity.  To someone hypersensitive to
stimulation it seems impossible that they will ever be able to be
comfortable with strongly bright lights.  However if the
desensitization is managed carefully, skillfully, and with
patience, patients are able to be comfortable with brightness
levels they once thought impossible.


LESSON FIVE: After desensitization, the lower the intensity of
the stimulation, the more reliable the improvement.  After a
woman who had been doing well suffered another trauma she
relapsed.  And after the trauma she appeared to be making no
progress toward recovering the gains she had made, although she
did not appear to be uncomfortable with bright stimulation. 
Since she was showing large amounts of very low frequency
activity, I wondered if the strong stimulation was itself
mimicking the effects of trauma and perpetuating her problems.
I decided to lower the lights to levels barely visible to her,
and once I did, she began making progress again.  Others using
EDF have found the same improvement effects in work with stroke
victims: those who appeared to have plateaued once again made
progress once the stimulation levels were lowered.

The advisability of lowering the stimulation levels also flies in
the face of the way many use commercial sound and light devices. 
People seem hungry for experience and sensation, and often speak
of blasting themselves with light and sound stimulation. In fact,
patients frequently ask me to raise the brightness of the lights
in the belief that more is better; if they can just "take" a
little more, they may get through the treatment faster. 
Unfortunately this may provoke a relapse and overdose, and
lengthen their treatment. At best, it can lead to no improvement.

It may be that gradually raising the lights in intensity serves
to reorganize the brain in some way. However while many of the
symptoms do decrease as this happens, as noted above, some
others, typically the finer thinking, organizing, memory, and
sequencing skills seem to need something else.  It may also be
that lowering the intensity of the stimulation produces a much
milder local stimulation at the site of the EEG electrode without
the global brain reorganizaiton.  Keeping the stimulus intensity
high may interfere with the return of function by overloading the
cortex, an effect seen by large amounts of low frequency activity
and a failure of the cortex to inhibit that activity and
integrate it so that the person can function at "higher" levels. 
This cortical overload may serve as a model by which trauma can
be studied. (This also suggests that there may be two phases to
EDF treatment: global and local.  Global reorganization appears
to require desensitization to bright stimulation, while local
reorganization, responsible for the recovery of specific skills,
seems to require dim light.)


LESSON SIX: There is more than one kind of hypersensitivity. 
Although the woman I mentioned above appeared comfortable with
brighter lights she did not resume making progress until their
brightness was lowered significantly.  This implies that she was
still hypersensitive to the lights even though she felt no need
to complain.  The loss of the sense of hypersensitivity in the
midst of continued impairment suggests that the brain is capable
of reacting differentially.

Because her sense of hypersensitivity was lost, there has been a
need to develop other objective ways to alert the clinician that
the patient is hypersensitive.  This remains a problem today, and
one that is receiving top attention.


LESSON SEVEN: There appears to be such a thing as optimization of
one's EEG.  As a patient becomes progressively more functional--
that is mood, energy, motivation, memory, attention, sequencing,
prioritizing, etc., become more present and reliable--there are
predictable changes that appear in the patient's EEG patterns. 
As the patient learns to "cruise the frequencies" and do
"nothing" under the stimulation of the lights and/or sounds,
i.e., gets better at not directing or processing consciousness
but instead lets go and permits it be pulled however it goes, the
activity observed in each of the bands becomes minimized,
equalized, and reduced in variability.  While there initially
appears relatively enormous amounts of high amplitude EEG in the
lower frequency bands, this activity is minimized and stabilized
in response to properly applied stimulation.

I have seen no instance in which symptoms were worsened or even
fixed at high levels as these patterns became more prominent. 
The opposite is true, in fact: I have only seen improvement as
the "idling" EEG was minimized and stabilized when measured from
the front of the head.

As these EEG patterns become increasingly prominent, the EEG will
increasingly follow (or be entrained by) the stimulation if it is
deliberately varied.  EEG following has not be evident early in
the treatment when the EEG appears disorganized.  In addition,
movement artifact, often a consideration in EEG measurement,
becomes much less prominent as the treatment progresses, and may
almost be another indication of discomfort which improves with
treatment.


LESSON EIGHT: We appear to have subcortical as well as cortical
intelligence, fortunately.  Once our functioning begins to
deteriorate, our ability to be ourselves also deteriorates.  We
begin to experience the frustration that we can no longer do the
things we used to do.  We have trouble reading, following
conversations, following (understanding), remembering and
executing sequences of instructions; remembering what we need to
do, what belongs to whom, and what still needs to be done
(whether it was already done, or whether we or someone else
needed to do it).  We often have problems driving or riding in
the car, fuming at apparent slights and stupidities of others and
the impossibility of arriving at the intended destination on time
(especially if we are having troubles admitting we can't remember
where we are going or how to get there).  The frustration and
shame of not being who we were in our former competence is
pervasive in nearly everything we do, and nobody can really
understand why we can't "snap out of it" and "grow up."  We fake
normalcy the best we can.

If we try to use regular EEG biofeedback, which follows a
conscious learning model, our incompetencies interfere with our
ability to learn brain wave discrimination, association, and
control. EEG biofeedback, that is, sometimes places us in a Catch
22 situation in which the very skills we have lost are those
which are required to expeditiously learn brain wave control.

Fortunately EDF does not require conscious learning--except for
the need to learn to "idle" and drift with the stimulation
patterns, as we both influence and are influenced by the lights. 
In fact, any attempts to "help" the stimulation, engage in
constructive thinking, meditate, and so on, usually lengthen the
treatment process, at least in its initial stages.

We are used to thinking of our intelligence as an attribute
associated with focused attention, discrimination, associative
linking, memory, sorting, and discerning our way through
sequences of possibilities and problems.  The application of
intellectual skills is often associated with effort.  Those
receiving EDF treatment, however, are asked to do as little
effortful focusing as they are able.  They are asked to drift, or
let their minds wander as much as possible without direction. 
Patients often spontaneously report at the end of the treatment
that they no longer resist the stimulation, that they just watch
the colors and patterns and let them take them wherever they go--
which is largely a reflection of what their brain activity is
inclined to do.

Those who were brightest consciously before their trauma often do
the best, as if their intelligence is a quality that permeates
the brain subcortically as well as cortically.  While they often
feel stupid in the conscious world of complex tasks,
instructions, and cues, watching and listening to the stimulation
seems to allow it to work without the need to overcome what are
apparently useless efforts to direct their consciousness.  

It has been apparent that more than just the visual or auditory
parts of the brain are involved in this treatment process. 
Reports of "a golden globe slowly rotating before my eyes,"
"strange smells that I can't place," "smelling the horses on
screen at the movie," or "my God it's hot! as if I'm back in
Nam," are not uncommon.  These appear to be signs of the brain's
interconnectedness, intelligence that is at work to automatically
heal the individual.

It is important to say that except for the skills involved in
desensitizing the individual and remaining comfortingly present
and yet unobtrusive, it is the interaction between the EDF system
and the individual's brain that is most intelligent.  That is,
the therapist does not need to pick out helpful frequency
stimulation strategies: the floating relationship between
stimulation and brain activity becomes the program.


LESSON NINE:  High functioning people who are truly injured and
handicapped will do almost anything to get better if there is a
reasonable chance that they will show relatively rapid
significant improvement.  People who are used to high functioning
are intolerant of impaired functioning, even if there is
secondary gain to be had from their impairment.  They will travel
hours each way each day; they will pay cash regardless of whether
insurance will pay; they will keep their appointments except in
unusually difficult circumstances at which times they will call
to keep the connection; they will ask questions about their
experience; they will ask for reading material if there is some
reasonable assurance that what is being offered to them will make
a real difference in their lives.   Formerly high functioning
individuals who have been financially impoverished, who are
living on disability and welfare, will stop at nothing to obtain
and accept free treatment and will get well if possible, and go
back to work or back to school.  These people hate their lives.


LESSON TEN:  Research, Research, Research.  It is sometimes
difficult to tell the difference between wishes for dramatic
breakthroughs in medicine and knowledge of the mind, and actual
discoveries that change our knowledge and our lives.  Research
starts with observation and moves on to controlled testing of
hypotheses with increasing degrees of stringency, all to make
sure we are not fooling ourselves and each other. In case the
reader thinks I am advocating stodgy academic publishing to
enhance a knowledge of basic science, the reader is only partly
correct.  I am as well concerned with marketing and being able to
make the grandest justifiable claims.  However, these claims
should acknowledge the product's limitations as well as its areas
of applicability.  The makers of the claims need to recognize the
desperation of those afflicted with head injuries, strokes,
spinal cord problems, depression, obsessions, rages, enormous
fatigue, emotional and environmental hypersensitivity.  Only
research can define a product's limitations and capabilities.

It has taken us three years to study how EDF might be studied,
and to begin to develop tools so that neuroscientists can begin
to evaluate its safety, efficacy and mechanism.  Research is the
only way to ascertain the system's assets and liabilities.

Furthermore, there is no reason not to subject even the standard
light and sound technologies to controlled studies.  They lend
themselves perfectly to such investigations.  The programs may be
changed inside them without the knowledge of either the study
personnel or the subjects under some conditions, and then changed
again to be sure that each subject receives the real and placebo
programs at specific times during the study.  Fully informing
both staff and subjects that such switching will be taking place,
and reassuring them that each will receive the best treatment
know at the time will safeguard the interests of all.  I believe
that the extent to which the manufacturers of these devices have
confidence that they are useful will be seen in their willingness
to conduct good research on them.  Again, this is not just
research, but potentially superb marketing.

Many questions remain to be answered, such as:  

Is the inclusion of the EEG really necessary?  I suspect so,
otherwise there would have been much more frequently reported
successes from the already existing LS stimulation devices. 
However this really needs to be tested methodically.  

Is the desensitization to the stimulation all that is necessary?

Are there particular protocols which are much more effective than
others?

Only research will advance our knowledge of the potential here.


LESSON ELEVEN: Move to other sites to monitor the EEG.  One site
most probably won't be enough. An individual's EEG may be
optimized at one site and problems still remain.  It is possible
that the job may not be completed satisfactorily until the EEG
from the entire scalp is examined for high signal levels and
great variability. the therapist may proceed systematically
around the head following the standard 10-20 electrode site
system, or look for electrode sites on the basis of
neuropsychological research. One patient was doing rather well
throughout the sites on the left side of his head.  However when
electrodes were place toward the back of the scalp on the left,
and working around the back of the scalp from left to right, and
again across sites on the right side of his scale, he began to
have emotional reactions, powerful dreams, and changed from not
feeling bad to feeling occasional clear happiness.  His inner
life has become unstable, but extremely intriguing and satisfying
in its diversity.


LESSON TWELVE: Trauma, both psychological and physical, may be a
lot more treatable than formerly thought.  A great deal of pain
has been endured by the traumatized; a great deal of human
resource has been lost as well.  Trauma's impact on someone's
life can convert it from exciting, satisfying, and productive, to
one that is empty of hope, or financial and social independence
in a second.  


LESSON THIRTEEN: Dead may not be so dead. The traditional wisdom
is that head injury symptoms are the result of dead or destroyed
brain tissue. While there is undoubtedly structural and tissue
damage in head injury, including stroke and spinal cord injury,
the inevitable linking of that damage with the subsequent loss of
function may be premature and largely based on the treatment
resistance of the subsequent problems using conventional methods. 
EDF has most certainly had its treatment failures.  However in
each case these failures are characterized by the patients being
disappointed that the particular functions they wanted did not
return, while other functions did.  The functions that did
return, such as the ability to remember without making notes all
the time, or clarity of consciousness, were each devalued.  One
patient did not recover from her post-traumatic headache of five
years when I was just beginning to understand the phenomenon of
photic and auditory hypersensitivity.  Her treatment may have
been terminated prematurely.  

Another, who suffered both a massive stroke and an attempt to
surgically repair his cerebral circulation during a cardiac
bypass operation had major portions of dead tissue removed from
his brain.  The clarity EDF brought him drove home to him even
more the significance of his losses, which intensified his
frustration.  However the range of problems that were helped,
from mild traumatic closed head injury, to limbs paralyzed by
stroke, to loss of emotional control, to depression, to loss of
balance and equilibrium, to loss of sight, to fatigue in chronic
fatigue, to arthritis, to allergic cracking of the skin (post
head injury), etc., implies that finding a structural anomaly
does not necessarily mean that the person won't recover.  In
fact, I have been increasingly dissatisfied with the medical
(EEG, radiographic, nuclear medicine) ability to predict capacity
for recovery once EDF is applied to problems, especially since
most of the patients I have worked with have been better than two
years since their injuries.  

LESSON FOURTEEN: We ain't seen nothin' yet. Once more it appears
that we really don't know what we thought we knew: former truths
about human limitations to recovery from terrible trauma are
beginning to show themselves as inadequate pictures of reality. 
There may be a good deal of institutional, personal, and
professional resistance to the recognition that commercial LS
stimulation technologies may have a valued place in the hallowed
halls of medicine and psychology.  Here are some of examples of
resistance I have already encountered.

1. Congratulations from some medical and psychological
professionals, followed by quickly walking away. 
2. Accusations of cruel fraud and deception, offering false hope
to the truly hopeless. 
3. The attribution of success to either the personality of the
therapist or the placebo response of the patient. 
4. Expressed fears that therapists will lose their jobs due to
the success of EDF. 
5. Statements that the patients really didn't have the previously
diagnosed problems, but psychological ones that were much more
easily curable.

None of these forms of resistance are unusual.  Certainly
controlled studies, even double-blind studies, are required to
offer the highest level of commonly-accepted evidence of efficacy
and safety.

I have not speculated about how EDF works. It may be premature to
do so.  There is a great deal of research to do which will answer
questions as it is conducted.

There is no telling what electronic miniaturization will bring,
ranging from the possibility of widespread and rapid improvement
to many "hopeless" patients, to performance enhancement to many
less severely afflicated. Procedures need to be developed to
automatically adjust the intensity of the lights so that those
who believe in macho treatment don't make themselves or their
patients too spacy to operate a motor vehicle or other heavy or
potentially machinery.  Of one thing I am certain, and I
underscore it for those who think that everything has been
discovered: as long as people are alive creation has a chance of
being a continuous process.  Just as this EDF process couldn't
have been anticipated; and just as the beneficial consequences of
this process couldn't have been concretely forecast (disregarding
the slogans about the brain being only 10% used, and therefore
capable of anything), openness to surprise has helped many who
were condemned to a hopeless life.

_________________________________

Len Ochs, Ph.D. has applied the principles of simplicity,
directness and obviousness to such diverse endeavors as the
design and development of the Orion biofeedback system and its
Apple II-based predecessor, psychiatric aftercare facility
merger, psychotherapy issues and techniques, and behavioral
medicine.  He has worked extensively with the physically injured,
teaching them to rapidly and purposefully direct their blood flow
for pain control, and with the chemnically dependent, to alter
their brain rhythms to relieve addiction.  He is a past president
of the Biofeedback Society of New York, and was recognized by the
AAPB for his pioneering contributions to biofeedback
instrumentation.  He has a private practice in northern
California. Phone 510 6897-3203.



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