Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category

The Role of Amateurs in Science

Monday, November 19th, 2007

There is one field in which an extensive mutually beneficial relationship has existed between amateurs and professionals. It is in astronomy, and the phenomenon was recently taken up in Science Magazine by John Bohannon (Volume 318, 12 October 2007, pp 192-3). Significantly, this symbiosis is occurring in a science in which we have only limited ability to do experiments. Mostly the science is observational. Most of the scientific observations are specifically targeted and hypothesis-based. They are so numerous that time on the big observatories for each project is scarce and therefore precious. But there is another crucial aspect of astronomy that focuses on celestial events that are not predictable either in time or place. This is mostly where the amateurs come in. They represent a world-wide army of knowledgeable observers that is on watch every night around the globe. (more…)

Addressing the Problem of the Homeless with Neurofeedback

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

The current issue of The New Yorker features an article by Malcolm Gladwell on the problem of the homeless. The title of “Million Dollar Murray” sets the theme: It may be a lot more expensive to manage homelessness than it is to solve the problem. Murray Barr was a homeless person in Reno, Nevada, until he died recently of intestinal bleeding attributed to his alcoholism. If all of the free medical care that Murray received over the years, and all of the time spent by police and ambulance teams picking him up for emergency medical services were added up, he may very well have had the highest total in medical services since Howard Hughes decided to take up residence in Nevada–quite possibly reaching a total of $1M.

And yet there was a time not long ago when Murray was successfully placed in a job, and he was staying sober. Some time later–he had accumulated some $6,000 in personal savings by that time–he was terminated out of the program in an act of bureaucratic necessity, and immediately resumed his prior street life, which then proceeded to cost the State ten to a hundred times as much as it had been costing to maintain him in sobriety and usefulness. (more…)

Service Delivery Models

Wednesday, January 18th, 2006

There has been a lot of discussion round and about with regard to professional ethics in the last few months, mostly as a reference standard for judging who may rightly deliver neurofeedback services. Essentially all of the relevant ethical criteria refer to the relationship of the clinician and the client. The only social dimension in these ethical constraints relates to those situations where that cocoon of mutuality can be broken and the professional may be mandated to report someone who may do injury to another, who may be responsible for ongoing child abuse. The other social dimension relates to the obligations the professional may have vis-à-vis other professionals.

This is somewhat similar to what we have in law, where the attorney-client relationship is privileged in such a manner so as to protect the client. The attorney is, however, also an officer of the court and as such bears responsibility for the integrity of the legal process. So most of the obligations prescribe the relationship to the client, but there is also the social dimension.

Consider, by contrast, the implicit obligations of the soldier in Iraq. Here there are very few individual rights whatsoever. The officer in charge can order to soldier to do virtually anything–even at the risk of his life–that it is somehow connected to the enterprise of war. The soldier’s obligations are entirely in the social realm. He is laboring on behalf of the society at large under circumstances in which his individual rights almost disappear. He has no personal interest in being in the war theater. (more…)

A Year-End Perspective

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

As we approach the year-end, my thinking goes to the big-picture issues as I look back on the progress the field has made over the past year and project forward to how the field of neurofeedback will likely progress in the coming year.

Several anecdotes tell the tale. At our recent training course someone commented on how frustrating it must be to be sitting on what we know and yet have the larger world just go by without any awareness of this field. Over time we have gotten used to the slow rate of “diffusion of innovation” that characterizes the health field in particular. But we also realize that the field is growing in a healthy way with the gradual but relentless accretion of new mental health professionals into the discipline.

Every new practitioner will benefit some 30-150 clients and their families over the course of a year through neurofeedback. Collectively we are helping well over 100,000 people per year in the United States. Eventually this “population pressure” will tell. They will eventually no longer just represent isolated individuals. Rather, they will encounter others who have similarly benefited. It will become a movement. (more…)

A Neurofeedback Service Delivery Model

Wednesday, October 5th, 2005

Last week the discussion was about a service delivery model of neurofeedback that allows access by those who most need it, namely the poor. Most neurofeedback clinicians probably have no contact with the poor at all, so that message may not resonate, least of all as a way to sustain a practice. But the model also applies more generally, in a manner that hopefully touches us all.

We increasingly see “self-regulation practice” as becoming a life-long preoccupation, even for those who consider themselves quite functional. If neurofeedback is to be a part of that, then it cannot be on the standard fee-for-service basis. In that regard, our own situation was rather unusual. We originally paid something like $15,000 in 1985 dollars for neurofeedback services for our son Brian, but the need there was obvious, as was the substantial benefit derived. There was no option but to proceed. Sue and I have each done many neurofeedback sessions over the years since, and that would never have occurred if we had had to pay for every session. In our larger family, there is also the example of Sue’s father, who did neurofeedback daily for a number of years prior to his death in the early nineties due to progressive supranuclear palsy. And currently Sue’s mother is doing daily neurofeedback in her own home at the age of 94, taking a NeuroCybernetics system through its paces largely by memory. For most people, this could not happen if services were charged on a retail basis. (more…)


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