Background to my interest in Teaching Children with Autism

PSYCHOTHERAPY BEYOND THE FRINGE, continued

Now, you must surely be aware that the kind of fiction which has just been offered is quite plainly mad – and that Felicity is obviously nuts, not only for having dreamed up such nonsense, but also for being dumb enough to try to tell somebody else about it. That’s not how the body works, right? And it’s particularly patently false that allergies or addictions are learned. Everybody knows they are chemical and physiological events having no relevance at all to psychology. Well, let’s see how the rest of the story unfolds, just for the fun of it.

If Felicity was right, then by training Larry’s brain to increase its production of ‘neural inhibition’, it might be able to produce enough to prevent ‘short-circuiting’ when he ingested beer. He should then, over time, stop his addiction to beer – since each future use would be an ‘extinction trial’, being un-rewarded due to failure of the prevented short-circuiting to stimulate the ‘reinforcement centre’. And, even if drinking beer, he should not react to it with rage or violence – due to prevention of the short-circuiting stimulation of the ‘rage centre’. Out of pure perversity, Felicity decided to try the experiment.

Larry agreed to be treated in the biofeedback lab. EEG electrodes were attached over the C3-C4 sites on his scalp (as described in Chester’s story) and a whistling ‘reward’ was given when and while the EEG was recording sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) activity from those sites. At the same time, galvanic skin resistance (GSR) electrodes were attached to his right hand and, as described in George’s story, for every 1,000 ohms of skin resistance increase (less sweat, more ‘calmness’) the slide he was watching was changed as a ‘reward’ for becoming physiologically more calm. These procedures, called SMR and SCARS conditioning, have been described already in several other stories.

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