Psychotherapy Out of Bounds

PSYCHOTHERAPY Out of Bounds, continued
Philip was just a restless, hyper-active boy in his mid-teens. He had been hyper-active all his life. In his mid-teens he was assaulted by a group of boys who pounced upon him unawares. His parents feared that he may have been traumatized by this incident. And certainly the scores on the tests seemed to confirm that he was suffering from traumatically-conditioned anxiety of fairly recent origin. Felicity decided to try to get rid of the anxiety by means of Wolpe’s reciprocal inhibition therapy (RIT) and, when that failed, by means of Quirk’s stimulus conditioned autonomic response suppression (SCARS) procedure (described in other stories). Neither method worked.
The problem was that Philip could not, or would not, sit still. As a result he could not relax for RIT, and no stable GSR measure could be obtained to allow conditioning in SCARS. Felicity had already found a way to deal with this accessory problem in some other similar cases.
A friend and colleague had an organization working with him. One part of that organization designed and built electronic equipment to specifications. Felicity got his friend, Fortunato, to arrange to have an ‘immobility conditioner’ built for him. The equipment they developed required a neon light bar on one side of the subject, shining its light across the surface of the reclining person’s body. On the other side of the person was a stand on which was the immobility conditioning unit. It was a little box with a photo-sensitive (light-sensitive) electronic sensor on it pointed across the subject toward the light. There was a knob on the box with which Felicity could adjust the threshold response so that no sound was emitted from the speaker in the box. Then the volume knob was turned up full. If the unit was adjusted just right, any time the person moved just a bit, thus changing the light or shadow pattern reaching the photo-sensor, the unit’s oscillator switched on and a loud, shrieking sound was emitted by the speaker. As soon as the shadow or light pattern returned to its former state, the sound would stop. This little unit proved very effective in stopping restlessness and hyper-activity during treatment sessions, thus allowing desensitization procedures to be undertaken.
It worked very nicely with Philip. Once he had stopped moving about on the reclining chair, he learned quickly to relax, and the RIT method for desensitization was completed in 15 sessions. Of course, all Felicity had done was to use a cheaper and simpler procedure than the analogous EMG-feedback procedure to do much the same thing. No doubt, people who like to spend money on T.V.s, computers and other electronic systems would be able to achieve the same result using an interesting pattern on a monitor (for the subject to watch) controlled by any of a number of types of devices for detecting muscle potentials or movements.

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