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|Alice in Neuroland - Page 16|
He took some of the junk surrounding his barn to the dump, earned cash selling scrap metal, and worked a shift as a limousine driver. After barely having opened a book in 15 years, he started spending an hour a day poring over a complex economic and military history of World War II. He talked to me more about how he planned to cover his monthly expenses and less about a distant, glorious future.
Then, in mid-May, an axle on his truck broke, he ran out of money, and he fell into what he called a "reality-based" depression. My heart sank. He kept going to neurofeedback (our mother paid), but the depression didn't lift until mid-June.
I'd hoped he'd magically emerge from his desert chrysalis, out of debt, with steady, well-paying, absorbing work; perhaps even with a girlfriend and a home mortgage. But what has emerged instead are small mercies. The story he tells about himself is less self-critical, less defensive, more hopeful.
"The soil here is decomposed granite," he said after his depression lifted and his alertness returned full force. "If you put grass down, it just doesn't grow, unless you first lay down manure and wood chips. When I tried [to change my life] before, it was like trying to grow something in barren soil. You can read a book on time management, but if your head's a paint-mixer, what difference can it make? This neurofeedback is doing something on a root level that might make a difference. I know now that there's something wrong in the wiring. It's a motherboard problem--and it's repairable."
In Minneapolis, meanwhile, clinician John Anderson, a neurofeedback trainer for Stens Corporation (one of several commercial rivals of EEG Spectrum), recorded a EEG of my friend Patrick Dougherty's brain. Then he placed an electrode on a spot under Patrick's right eyebrow. Within three to five minutes of training using a highly sophisticated neurofeedback computer system made by the Lexicor corporation, Dougherty felt calmer. Calmness pervaded his life, pooled, swelled, and spilled over. He stayed behind a truck in busy traffic for six blocks rather than cutting in front to save a millisecond before parking. Within four weeks, his scores on the IVA (a test of variable attention) went from highly impulsive and inattentive to the normal range.