Psychotherapy Out of Bounds

PSYCHOTHERAPY Out of Bounds, continued
A Nervous Nervosa
In a way, Pam presented a treatment problem similar to Priscilla’s. Pam was a pretty young lady in her early twenties. The only thing which marred her beauty was that she was terribly skinny – emaciated, in fact. The trouble was that she was afraid to eat. When she was referred to Felicity she had been diagnosed as suffering from anorexia nervosa.
Like so many so-called diagnoses, anorexia subsumes a lot of different kinds of conditions. The risk with most of them is that the patient will become dehydrated or starved and will die. Pam had spent a great deal of time in hospital where the main effort, other than investigating her, had been to keep nutrients going into her to prevent her from dying. There was still no satisfactory way to account for her anorexia.
Felicity did his usual thing of administering and scoring a number of psychological tests. Once more, the Differential Diagnostic Technique (DDT) provided the main useful information. This test was described in Chester’s case, and has been referred to often in the foregoing. The test showed that Pam had a particular problem in perceiving visual angle, seen in handling straight-line as compared to curved-line figures. And the size of the discrepancy was such that it could not properly be accounted for on the basis of commonly recognized personality problems. It occurred to Felicity that the problem in the perception of visual angle implied by these test findings suggested that Pam had an irritative focus in her brain, in the area of the ‘drive centre’.
Although you might think this finding is becoming a bit boring, in this case it seems likely that the part of the ‘drive centre’ implicated in Pam’s partial seizures might be the satiety centre. That is, if electrical short-circuiting was repeatedly triggering electrical activity in the satiety centre, Pam’s body would constantly feel as though it had already eaten, was satisfied and required no food. If this strange hypothesis was valid, then using Sterman’s method to train her brain to increase its output of sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) might prevent the short-circuiting so that she would no longer feel as though she was stuffed with food and she might start eating. The idea at least warranted a test.
Pam went through a total of twenty-two half-hour sessions in which she received a whistling sound whenever her EEG showed any SMR activity from the C3-C4 sites, and silence when there was no SMR activity there. Her time-integrated SMR production rose from about 8 percent during the first sessions to about 50 percent during the last sessions. By the 15th session she had started eating and was recovering some weight. By the last session, her weight was approaching her normal weight at about 115 pounds. She reported that her appetite had returned and that she enjoyed eating again. What happened? Is EEG-SMR training a way to develop aesthetic sensibilities to create one who appreciates good food?

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