Apr
15
2010

  World Domination Will Take Longer Than I Anticipated

I am feeling significantly less invincible after today's neurofeedback session. I could sense that I was actually making less alpha today, despite lounging in a more comfortable position. So rather than feeling like I could conquer the world with my brain, I left feeling like I was a neurofeedback failure.

Interestingly, I could detect at once that I was using faulty cognitive processes to arrive at that conclusion (anyone who's tried cognitive behavioral therapy will know what I'm talking about). Obviously, I was catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is an irrational thought in believing that something is far worse than it actually is. Irrational because J said just yesterday that I am making very good progress, the opposite of being a failure. And although she did confirm that today I did not do as well as yesterday, she said nothing to indicate that there was some problem with today's progress. So interpreting "not as amazing a performance as yesterday" as "failure" seems to be exaggerating the situation.

But now that I have that baseline chart that shows that I don't really use the rational part of my brain much, and all my decisions come from my subconscious, it does shed new light on my reactions. Of course my initial reaction to things is irrational, since my rational mind is rarely activated, and it's probably pretty darn weak. It's a wonder I'm able to parse my thoughts at all-- I am newly grateful for all the cognitive skills I learned in the past, they really have provided me with excellent coping mechanisms over the years. If only I had learned them in my teens or twenties, how much happier those decades could have been! No matter, water under the bridge. W will get early training in how to manage his brain and/or emotions if he seems to be having problems. With the amount of various therapies T and I have had over the years, we're practically experts. At least enough to know what kind of therapy fits what kind of problem, if we can't fix it ourselves.

Next week, J is going to do some guided imagery with me during this protocol. Hopefully, it will help me relax into the alpha state without drifting off or over-thinking it.

I'm reading a book about the brain I checked out from the library yesterday-- I am reading with glee the part where the author seems fixated on the recreational prospect of neurofeedback. I'm totally with him on that. When I was researching it, before I signed up with J, I found several DIY neurofeedback forums. People comparing notes on how different states feel, what protocols to use for different effects, how to build your own EEG.

You see, brain waves are both electrical AND chemical. All those brain chemicals you hear bandied about in anti-depressant commercials-- seratonin, dopamine, endorphins, et al. Well, neurofeedback can release those feel-good chemicals without the use of drugs. And as long as you do it to yourself and not your friend, it's legal. If you hook your friend up to an EEG in some states you are then "practicing medicine without a license" which is a problem. But no one can stop you from self-medicating with neurofeedback. From a practical perspective, there's a pretty high barrier to entry, but the cost of building your own system would be less than the cost of illegal drugs over time. And as a bonus, once you learn the techniques, you can switch into the special chemical-releasing thought-modes without anyone else really detecting that you're doing it!

Nevertheless, I'm perfectly content doing this under the supervision of a trained neurofeedback therapist. Because, very similar to illegal drugs, this stuff is literally messing with your mind. And while I'd totally try renegade neurofeedback, I'm a little too paranoid to actually do it enough to entrain something in my brain. What if I do it wrong and mess my brain up? That would be terrible! I'm prudent enough to know I'd better have someone more experienced than myself running the system, at least until I feel more comforable with it.