Sunday, October 12, 2014

No. 92 – April 10, 2014 – A Symphony in the Brain

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

How does your brain work? Understanding came only over time and through multiple disciplines.

Inquiries included a yogi sealed in an air tight box with air enough for 90 minutes. After 8 hours the ancient yogi asked to be released, providing a flash of insight on how much we do not know.

Sometimes a story based in science reads like a novel. This was the case with Jim Robbin's “A Symphony in the Brain,” published in 2000. Symphony tells the saga of Neurofeedback's origins and growing success against a medical establishment viewing it with both skepticism and hostility. Skeptic because the results are so much better than is being delivered with drugs. Hostility from the lower cost for treatment, which is, in many cases, life changing.

After my interview of Dr. Granoff on his practice as a clinical psychologist who has integrated NeurOptimal into his practice, I ordered the book he had recommended online.

Author Jim Robbins writes regularly for the science section of the New York Times and his work has also appeared in Smithsonian, Audubon, and Discover, among others.

The book tells the stories of people, skeptical professionals, parents, desperate for solutions, and people who understand the problems of alcoholism and drug addiction because they have, themselves, escaped.

Bill Scott craved alcohol after a childhood of trauma. An alcoholic at age 14, his older brother died, smashed in an auto accident, when Scott was 19. A choice confronted him. Accept the daily panic attacks which drove his drinking or change his choices. He did, enduring these every day.

As a professional overseeing a program for alcoholism for Native Americans in Minnesota he referred one severe case for Neurofeedback. At a visit after two weeks the change was stunning. Alcoholism was rampant on the reservation, 60% of residents being so categorized.

Next, Bill sent his hardest cases. Within weeks the changes were obvious. Then, Bill, still suffering from daily panic attacks, went himself. After 20 sessions his own disorder had vanished entirely. Bill was finally free of a childhood filled with abuse and fear.

Since the book was published the technology of Neurofeedback has matured and diverged. Today, one approach allows the brain to find its own optimal function using the explosion of technology made available through computerization.

NeurOptimal's Val Brown chose this path.

It is a riveting story, still playing out in clinical settings around the country.

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