Neurotherapy Day 10 – Deus ex machina!

Ok – that’s over the top, even for me, but very excited about the neurotherapy system I bought today to take home and work with (in consultation with Sue).

So excited that I’m going to ignore the blog and play…

I leave you with the gift of loud, crunchy guitars and the roaring sound of melting brain cells.

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Neurotherapy – Day 9 – Four out of Five Experts are Flabbergasted.

CandyFirst things first, I felt fantastic today. No treatment the last two days (obviously, since I’m in class) and absolutely no fall off on concentration, motivation or mood. Not over the top, just really really good. Before Neurotherapy, I often had a sense of fear or overwhelming exhaustion when starting a task. It’s just gone…completely. Was discussing this stuff with some of the counselors in the room (can’t throw a rock without hitting one and even if you did they would just ask about my feelings. Except the woman from New York. I’m pretty sure she’d just hit me with the nearest chair.).  Mentioned trying anti-depressants back home, and the fact that, while they helped mood some, I never felt myself, not sharp, not clever. Never stayed on them as a result. This isn’t like that at all. I don’t expect it would last if I stopped now, but I have absolutely no intention of stopping before I finish the 20 or 30 or 40 sessions I need to really make this, well, maybe not permanent but close enough for me.

The Course

Today was the start of practical application of the theory behind the Othmer system. Just in case we were under the impression that it was going to get easy, the morning was more challenging than the day before. It’s tempting to run away, but the lunch is so good you have to stick around.

About the theory (and if you hate stuff like that just jump ahead)

Over the course of the morning I talked with a bunch of the people in the course, asking them what they thought thus far. I talked to a few doctors, a psychologist, and a math professor from a California university. Each one had their own take on it, but the general consensus was (and I’m paraphrasing) “Well, I’ve got an open mind, but this is really different from anything I’ve seen before. I’ll have to wait and see whether it works in practice.” Individually, each could look at pieces in their own area of knowledge (network theory, pain management, trauma counseling, etc.) and see the possibility. It’s a dizzyingly large body of completely new concepts or old concepts reimagined in new way or a blurry combination of the two.

Luckily, the primary work of scientists is relentlessly finding new ways to be wrong without ever admitting they believed something completely different the week before. If the Othmer’s theory proves to be true, there will be a massive and complete about-face so breathtaking that long term use of chemical anti-depressants, anti-convulsants and so on will make the “flat earth” model seem like quite a good idea. Many will declare that they always believed it so, while others will declare those ones big fat liars it was their idea first.

I can follow most of it, understanding-wise, but I don’t even have the beginnings of the knowledge I would need to critique it, so I’m largely along for the ride, hanging on and hoping my intellectual pants don’t fly off. I’m grateful to have at least a few people in the room ready to call bullshit if they hear it. Like a security blanket sewn out of smart people. [Ed. Note – This is a metaphor, and it’s late so it’s the only one I could think of. I generally renounce violence of any sort. Do not phone the police.]

Ok – You can start reading again.

The remainder of the day was teaming off into pairs and having a go with the machines. This, it seems, is pretty much what everyone was waiting for. Even those of us with the little drool marks started working with the sort of focus and attention normally reserved for bomb disposal. Which it kind of looked like. Damn…where does the gray wire go again? Oh…sorry Ed.

This part was, definitely, really really fun. I’ve talked about the process before so I won’t bore you but, in the same way as driving is not the same as being a passenger, working as the clinician monitoring the subject was a radically different experience.

We had all been warned ( and I had already seen it firsthand), how insanely fast the body reacts to the right (or the wrong) reward frequency (the brainwaves you are telling your head to make more of). Even so, everyone in the room was flabbergasted when symptoms like headaches, sweating, anxiety and muscle tension broke out across the room while they searched for the reward frequency that worked for the individual. The Othmer’s new technology allows the machines to be set anywhere from 40 to 0.001 hz (which is crazy low). Interestingly, 0.0001 hz is pretty much where many people seem to like their rewards. Although I had previously found with Sue thathis was my personal frequency, I let my partner (I’ll call him Ed, mostly because that’s his name) hunt around a little, in order to get a feeling for the question-asking process. Even after dialling it back, the muscles in my chest didn’t untighten for two hours.

I remember thinking the day before, “Wow, these are committed and serious individuals (which they are). Look at them all paying such close attention.” After the demonstration, that just totally fell apart. There’s really no other word to describe the class but giddy, with poor Sue having to shush people and shout over the noise like it was free candy day at the Kindergarten. At a guess, I’d say they were all pretty excited at the prospect of finding a tool that could actually make a huge difference in the lives of their clients. The physical reactions had, for the first time, made that a tangible possibility.

Which, after all, IS pretty exciting.

News Flash – Academia Finds Ass With $2 Million Study and Small Pocket Mirror!

ivory_towerSo, today was day one of the four-day course on neurotherapy and clinical practice, designed largely for clinicians (doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, counselors, etc.) who intend to provide neurotherapy to patients in their care.

It was kind of like being hit in the head with a big knowledge hammer. And then maybe a real one, just in case the metaphorical hammer was too airy fairy.

Sig Othmer, the chief scientist at EEGInfo, knows an awful lot about the brain and how it works. Interestingly, his theories on why it works that way and what to do about it directly conflict with the ones held by the vast majority of the scientific, and certainly the medical community. Being a scientist, he likes to back up his opinions with lots and lots of data, which he really likes to share with people foolish enough to pay for the privilege. Lord, he’s probably reading this. Sorry Sig. It’s not as though I disagree with the model. It’s just that I spent years thinking the brain worked one way and reversing that in one day may have dropped the tranny out of my head. Do you smell toast?

Anyway, the guts of Sig and Sue Othmer’s treatment process, their machines and their research is based on the notion that, although brain chemistry is an important factor in how we function (got to have the right chemicals to keep the mind functioning), it’s not the real key to understanding why things go wrong. Their theory states that communication in the brain, between neurons and the different sections of the brain, underpins how we function, how we make our bodies work, and how our bodies make our brains work in turn. They go further to say that when things in the brain stop working, it’s often due to a dysregulation of that communication, and thus a nerve, brain-electricity problem, not so much a brain chemistry problem. Which is how we currently treat things (with pills, ritalin, prozac, seizure medications, etc). They have their place, but they can’t effect lasting change the way changing regulation with neurotherapy can.

Sig is not above heaping coals on the heads of people who continue to believe otherwise willfully and sometimes maliciously. He has good reason in some ways. Solid research has been done. Journals have ignored papers, possibly worried about reputations because the results seemed too good. He’s kinda pissed about that.

I really am not sure how he’ll react to an article published last month in the March issue of Brain Research Reviews.

Today’s news reports on it breathlessly state that an entirely new theory of brain function, based on dysregulation, may one day make it  possible to REVERSE AUTISM! (emphasis added, but only just barely)

I think the shock may just about kill Sig and Sue, who have been successfully treating autism in their clinic, using this exact theoretical model, for years.

OMG, people. Keep up.

[Ok, fine. I’m a neophyte without the knowledge even to have coffee with the grad students that got coffee for the professors that did that study. I still think they could spend a few bucks on a decent literature search before they start out.]

Research, research, research

My nearest and dearest know me to be a serious sceptic (what do you mean my feet are on the ground…prove it) and an even more serious research junkie.

Tonight hit both buttons nicely.

Sigfreid Othmer, chief scientist at the EEG Institute ran down the list of data that backs up the science behind EEG Neurotherapy. As Sue is the clinical director, Sig runs the science/research arm. The data he had tonight was fantastic. Great studies, including a Canadian one with 2776 prison inmates, that reduced recidivism (leaving jail, then doing bad things and heading right back in) from 65% of the criminals to 20%. So, over the three year study, they expected over 1,800 to return after they got out. But, after neurofeedback, only 554 did.

What would happen to our jails, hell to our society, if 2/3 of the people who habitually fill them just decided to stop coming and be all law abiding. Better place to live anyone? Less expensive jail system? Any takers?

On the opposite end of the scale, they did a study on improving performance for musicians at the Conservatoire at Imperial College, London. This is Britan’s answer to Julliard. The students are already some of the best around. The judges did not know who was performing. They tested exercise, Alexander technique, mental skills training and a number of neurofeedback protocols (different brain placements and reward frequencies).

The only thing that had any real effect was Neurofeedback, using Alpha-Theta training protocol. Using that method, students’ performance improved in every measure, between 13.3 and 17 percent. Note that some of the neurofeedback techniques, that work well in other areas, didn’t work any better than exercise or Alexander method. Ya got to have the right tool for the job at hand.

picture-14

As a musician and a prisoner (oh wait..), I’m just so excited by these studies. The individual case studies, especially the recent ones, even cooler.

A Vietnam vet with huge improvement in symptoms in just 18 sessions. Nightmares, suicidal thoughts and flashbacks were gone in just three sessions. This from a man who thought the whole process was bullshit when he started (sorry about the fuzz):

Vet

And recent technique improvements have made even more stark gains. This is a graph of improvements for a 36 year old woman who completed 20 sessions, removing problems with PMS, sleep difficulties, compulsive behaviours, even nose bleeds:

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That’s the thing. It’s not like drugs. It fixes so many things, because it’s helping the brain to repair root causes. No, it doesn’t work for absolutely everyone or everything. But it’s pretty damn good.

Neurotherapy – Day 7 – IT’S ALIVE!!!

frankensteinOk – that experimental thing was awesome. Loved it. Talk about motivation…just totally fired up and not in a can’t sit still sort of way; more a “I can start or do anything” sort of way.

When three quarters of your problem is a sense of exhaustion at the thought of beginning things, that’s a big deal.

The first of the two sessions, we did the experimental 40 hz training on both sides of the forehead (I note that Sue only did this on my last day as she knew she would be seeing me over the next few days at the course and would be able to discuss with me whether it was throwing me off). Then we mellowed out its potential jumpy or destabilizing effects with a little more temporal lobe training (same electrode placement we use for the migraines). The feeling I got from it was completely clear and motivated – absolutely great. But still not perfect…

Went and sat in Starbucks reading a text for a bit. Lots of motivation to read but missing some concentration factor that allows me to focus on the words. I discussed this with Sue when I went back for session two so we decided to focus on more calming and the focus control placement that was working before. Together the combination is really good (so far – it can take a little while for things to shake out). Motivation + focus and control = Stuff gets done – at least for me. YaaaaaY!

Which brings me to another topic… Despite repeated protestations that it won’t, people keep asking about whether this will change me. I now believe I may have been full of shit. Having a taste of real motivation, I now have a clearer idea of the many ways I do things that are wrapped up in looking like I’m doing things when I’m really not. Those things may change. And depending on what you thought of me before, you may now be seeing something different. Hopefully it won’t be worse. Hopefully because I like this better and am unlikely to change it back, thank you.

Things that are unlikely to change (I think):

  • I’ll still be a nice guy. (just a nice guy that gets more done)
  • I’ll still have this crazy head that jumps from topic to topic and makes all kinds of wonky connections from left right and centre field. (I’ll just be able to stop it where I want and focus on one topic when I need to)
  • I’ll still be unpredictable (but I might be on time)
  • I’ll still be sensitive to others’ emotions (but I might be less vulnerable to the crap around me)
  • I’ll still be your friend (probably – you might want to bring me cookies or beer just to be on the safe side)
  • I’ll still look the same (but I might smile more) [ed. note – The bolts are hardly visible but don’t comment; he gets testy.]

Experiments

The therapies they are using at EEG have been tested any number of times on lots of people. You are perfectly safe.

That said, I love (did I say love? I meant LOVE) that neurotherapy is a reasonably new field, with lots of room for growth.

One of my favourite parts about this, that I realize not everyone would be comfortable with nor do they have to try anything even slightly new, is the opportunity to do real research into the nature and function of the brain WITH MY OWN HEAD. With no significant danger of screwing it up. Fun!

Granted there’s some work to be done. I’m going to throw down a good chunk of cash on the therapy, clinical training and a machine to work with. I need to learn way more than I know now. And I’ll need a professional designation (like psychologist or nurse) before I can do significant work on anyone else.

In the mean time, it’s a bit like being at a banquet in a foreign country. Takes a lot of work to get there, but once you are at the table… wow. Everythings new and different, you can try anything and if you don’t like it…discretely spit it out, have some wine and go back to that other stuff, which was delicious. The sense of possibility is breathtaking.

Another question from the floor – Should I do this?

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Yes. Results may vary. I have one brain and you have another. Yours may resist the process more or less than mine does. You may like the process more or less than I do (actually can’t see the “more” – I loved it). It’s an emerging field. Some things they just don’t understand yet. [ed. and Pharmacuetical companies have no real idea what lots of drugs do to women or children because they never checked. At least this process is undestructive and open about newness]. Your specific concern may not respond as well as mine or may not respond at all (some things, like schizophrenia and sociopathy are challenging to treat).

However, if you have the money or know someone who will help, this is amazing stuff. It’s powerful, easy (god so easy), with no significant side effects and it is permanent (mostly – only the effects of things like dementia can be improved – the root cause isn’t being cured). If you have anything on this list I posted a couple of days ago… it’s sooo worth it.

As I also said, we’re all a bit broken. Lots of people (stock brokers, business executives, etc) use neurotherapy as a tool for improved performance. It boosts their concentration and abilities same as it does mine, they just started out a bit better. What’s telling is…they have just as many problems or broken areas as people who are functioning at a lower level. It’s just that their OCD or anxiety or whatever is working to make them effective in their field so no one notices (an OCD broker who has to check stock prices every 5 minutes may be a better judge of when to sell for instance). Sue at the clinic mentions that when people come in for peak performance, often lots of other things pop up. When those are fixed, they don’t leave unable to do their jobs all of a sudden. Unless maybe they are a hitman who came in for faster reflexes and all of a sudden acquires empathy. I can see that being a problem. Mostly they just become fuller, happier, better-rounded and complete humans.

So yes you should try it. Or you should keep reading my blog over the next month or so as I continue to track changes. Whichever one, if you decide to do it:

  • Go here (I am partial to their particular method – I think the system itself puts client first both in the way the electronics are designed and in the way they fundamentally approach the clinical process) and look up a clinician that uses the Othmer system.
  • Have a consultation and decide if the person doing the therapy is your sort of person. This is remarkably important as trust is the fastest way for you to figure out together what the best treatment is. If you don’t trust them enough to tell them what’s wrong they will be less likely to be able to help you.
  • Ask them if they have done neurotherapy themselves. Not all have. It’s important. If they haven’t, you might want to check if someone else has.
  • Have fun. It is.

Neurotherapy Day 6 – Upsy-Downsy, Notes and Quotes from the Clinic

office-space-1-1024I felt more unsettled and distracted yesterday and last night than I had the day before. This was both unsettling and reassuring (sorta).

I’m only down here for a limited course of treatment and then back to Victoria (Canada) to complete, with the occasional consult from Sue. Judging from my colourful array of symptoms and the rather criss-crossed map I have of my head now, a full course of treatment is going to run to 30-40 neurofeedback sessions (but that’s just a guess – it’s pretty messy in there).

I’ve had eight so far and it’s clear that there is a really positive effect. As I mentioned on Sunday, I’ve been trying to read a complex neurotherapy text for the last six months, bust couldn’t make the rubber hit the road, brain-wise. Read the vast majority of the thing in a single day. I’m horribly disorganized normally and even starting out, I could see the four types of questions that were forming in my head, so I went out and got a whack of post-its in different colours. This is all very strange – it’s like there was a really really organized person hiding in my head, all ready to go post-it-al. Freaky.

The hyper-organized effect started to drop off Monday morning. I forgot a few things I needed to check (like the timetable of the museum I wanted to see – it was closed as it turned out) and my reading was nowhere near as vigorous. In general,  I just felt more scattered. Now, after two sessions this morning, I feel very clear. In terns of physical sensation, there was a lot of tightening and tingling sensations across my scalp during the sessions. We were working on several electrode (more in a bit about electrodes) placements, including one for focus and organization, one for headaches and auditory processing enhancement, one for the body issues (became hungry halfway through the session) and . The auditory processing is because I have a hard time picking out what people are saying if there is much (or any) background noise. Occasionally it’s so bad I just nod and smile – bars are brutal, I might as well be a bobblehead. Apparently this is just one more in a monster list of clues as to what is happening inside your head. Fixable, apparently.

Questions people ask the clinic staff about Neurotherapy

“Will it Last?”

“Can I do it? I’m not very good at video games you know – my son can do them.” (from adults)

“Will it hurt? They think that we are going to put electricity into their heads.” [editor’s note – they don’t]

And last thing, a quote from a Vet in the waiting room…

“First started doing it – I thought it was a hoax – thought it was a lot of bullshit. Now I really think people should try it…I was in Vietnam and I had terrible nightmares – I don’t get those anymore.” – “Max”

Last Day at the Clinic! Zzzzap. Zzzap. Zzzzzap.

Last day at the clinic before I do the clinical providers course (the one that doctors, psychiatrists and Psychologists take if they want to do neurofeedback work with their clients. I only have a few minutes before I have to get to the clinic so this is likely to be quick…and messy. I’ll pretty it up later.

Let’s be clear. I’m nowhere near where I want to be in terms of motivation, permanence and other things. That said, I’ve only been here a week/ 8 sessions. It’s understandable. I’m pretty motivated to continue back in Canada.

Discussed some experimental stuff Sue is working on with her (ok begged) so we are going to try a much higher reward frequency (as high as the machine will go) right on the forehead (the pre-frontal lobe is responsible for most executive functions (like the non-executives don’t – ha) such as planning and organization.I’ll be very interested to see what happens.

Before you all start emailing me worrying about me blasting out my brain (thank you for your kind concern in advance), I’ll describe the process so it’s not so scary.

It’s basically like raising a child. You give them rewards, like attention and laughter and jelly beans (yes I do, sometimes, sue me), when you are pleased with them for doing something you like. The machine is listening to your brain in the places that you want to change something (say left prefrontal cortex just inside the left side of the forehead). When you make the right sort of brainwaves there, in this case very high frequency ones, the machine makes the little spaceship move. Your brain is a sucker for that sort of thing so does it over. and over. and over. and it learns to like doing that so it does it more and more. and then kind of keeps doing it after enough training.

Today is one session at that frequency. It doesn’t do anything permanent. just a little look see at what hppens to my head (everyone is different) when you reward that high frequency right there. I’m v. excited.

Late, got to run, more later….