Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Neurofeedback

I've been off antidepressants for two months now, and off my initial dose for 7 months. I have also been under some stress lately with stupid health issues (an endless cold, weird back pain, etc etc) and a visit from my (very lovely) grandpa. So maybe it is no wonder that I am starting to question if some of the original symptoms are coming back. I've had a great many more panic attacks recently than I can remember having in the previous year, and my response to the smallest stresses (grandpa's visit, sister's wedding, hanging artwork for a show) is to freak out. Even things as simple as having to make dinner or feeling really tired make me anxious. Husband says I don't seem any different, so hopefully this is a case of me making an elephant out of a mouse. Nevertheless, I have decided to try out the neurofeedback suggested to me by an acupuncturist.

I tried to understand this procedure best I could. I watched the (extremely cheesy) video that the acupuncturist gave me. I also read the book "Symphony in the Brain" by Jim Robbins, a journalist who writes on popular science issues, and who is a great fan of the treatment. The book was sensationalist and only mildly informative. It conveyed a sense of a budding scientific discovery gone to waste by the drama and discord among the practitioners.

Here is what I have gathered about this procedure. Our brain's activity produces electrical activity of different frequencies. These can be measured with an EEG and are grouped into types (delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma), each associated with a several normal (and abnormal) functions. For example, delta frequencies are measured during certain parts of our sleep, alpha when we are relaxed, beta when we anxious. These are generalities of course. So two things are the basis of neurofeedback:

1) Pathologies (depression, ADD, epilepsy, coma, etc) show a deviation of EEG activity from the norm.
2) Brains can be trained to alter their EEG activity.

Both of these statements are technically true. The leap that has not been tested too well in a scientific setting is that training your brain (such as with neurofeedback) can cure the pathology. There are certainly many clinical studies that show this to be the case (from neurofeedback professionals), but even these professionals don't seem to agree on the best protocols. Each practitioner seems to follow their own methodology, deciding which EEG activity to stimulate or suppress, and they don't all agree.

The woman I'll be seeing is following the methods of Siegfried and Susan Othmer (of EEG Info, previous owners of EEG Spectrum, now a completely separate neurofeedback group). I believe they work by messing around with alpha waves, but maybe that is too simplistic. I hope to get a better understanding of what she'll be doing during my first appointment with her (on Monday) and by reading a textbook I have ordered that teaches neurofeedback to practitioners. Hopefully they won't mess up my brain too much!

Friday, October 2, 2009

John Perry and the "Obama Problem"

Some douchebag former senior editor of Newsmax named John Perry wrote this darling column the other day (which has now been taken down due to it being INSANE). You can still view it here. In it he suggests that the military will surely want to stage a "bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation." "Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders," he goes on to say, "would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making." omg, wtf....

There has been a rash of this kind of talk lately. There was the facebook poll on whether the president ought to be assassinated. There is Glenn Beck in his schizophrenic entirety. There is the census worker who got killed for being a "Fed". The gun-carrying protesters outside townhalls. There is violence and so much hatred, it is frankly scary. I'll be the first to admit that I couldn't stand George Bush. I wanted him impeached, out of office. I wanted him held legally accountable for his behavior, which included illegal wiretapping of American citizens, lying and using known forged information to start a war in Iraq, and the torturing of detainees. These things, I suggest to you, are in fact unconstitutional. Giving everyone in this country health care is not.

In fact, the constitution, which I have read today in it's entirety, does mention several times the duty of the Congress and of the President to "promote the general welfare", "welfare" being defined as "health, happiness, or prosperity; well-being". That sounds like it includes healthcare to me!

It's not like there aren't legitimate issues to discuss when it comes to health care reform. How will we pay for it, is one good topic. How do we make sure that hospitals and doctors get compensated well (more then they do now from medicare, for example)? Why on earth aren't we figuring out a universal single payer system, is a favorite of mine. But "Obama is a Kenyan socialist, marxist, fascist who wants to kill grandma and is a Muslim" IS NEITHER LEGITIMATE NOR SANE!!!!! While I am on the subject can we just agree that "communist" and "Nazi" CANNOT be used interchangeably? Retards...