Saturday, September 18, 2021

Comments by Heather Duke

Showing 3 of 3 comments.

  • Anastasia, I am grateful for the festival your roommate put on here in your old hometown. It was fun to be included. This story is hard to read, it hurts. I was sorry to hear when you were displaced from here, and to hear the circumstances of everything speaks to the very complex story of how families handle trauma and family members who have different ways of expressing that trauma. When someone is acting out like this, there are so few places for them to be safe. And when home isn’t safe, that person is in a double bind. And you had to see this play out and then were at the mercy of the players. It was an unfair and volatile situation. I moved to this place about 9 years ago, and am similarly a renter, subject to the whims of the life of our landlords, who thankfully care for us. I’ve also worked in mental health here and am aware of a lot of how things function or don’t function here.

    When vast numbers of people we work with under the auspices of healing are economically displaced, and act out in pain at the forces that take their basic sense of dignity, their home, from them, a person working to help often feels frustrated too. There needs to be something tangible that we can offer people locally who have had their rents double in the last year, for example, for community members like you who have been here for years, and suddenly, through a rental ending, have no place to go. I think this is the elephant in the room right now. I’m just an unlicensed paraprofessional, but this is what I see. I am so glad the road opened and you found yourself a new place. What a blessing. Laissez les bonnes temps rouler. Keep writing.

  • Eric,
    It’s rare these days that I am moved to reply to an article online. My days these full are actually joyfully full of reading and pursuing interests in neuroscience and the arts and working in the field of neurofeedback. I have five years of clinical experience as a technician, and work under supervision . Until my late thirties I was not able to read more than a half page at a time because of challenges I was facing. My overall experience with neurofeedback literally switched life back on for me, so I could connect with all sorts of resources that got me better. I will note that both of the people I worked with were using a microcurrent type of neurofeedback with me as well as PEMF rather than training with a video game, and both of them used tools to screen me for hardiness and sensitivity ( which is incredibly important if you are prone to the states you describe in this article). I most likely would have not responded well to flashing lights at the outset of treatment (that type of treatment was not given to me ), nor did I initially like the application of that QEEG cap you described, though I now see it as a very important tool to find out what is going on with people before they start with any kind of training. There are new sensors being developed that are less scratchy and invasive, but they are expensive.

    Your article here strikes my heartstrings in two different ways. Firstly, I feel like I want to be totally supportive of your experience, I can relate to it, to sensing the massive change that can happen when your brain suddenly functions in a new way. John Elder Robinson talks about this in “Switched On” which is about TMS, a different therapy targeting the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that may promote a similarly large change in state. To find new ways to think about and live in a dynamically tuned or dissonant nervous system can be really disruptive. We can change our brains, but there is work to do with memory and how we see our place in our families and communities, when we suddenly are able to have options for our lives rather than living in fear states or in many cases with chronic pain. How do relationships hold up when things are changed? And can we find appropriate support, when we are vulnerable, from the mental health system, from trustworthy people, and in most cases with limited financial resources and privilege? It’s one heck of a tall order, and I think, why so many readers and authors are here at Mad in America, because we want something better and we want to have a conversation about that with people who might get it.

    Comparatively, in mental health, neurofeedback is a small and growing field with lots of promise. Even with my enthusiasm for what I do for work and my hope that we can continue helping people feel better, you account of your personal experience is so tremendously valuable. I want to encourage you though, to not sweep us all with a broad brush and if you are interested, gather information about what else is out there that might better suit your unique needs . Research for neurofeedback has less support from the pharmaceutical lobbies that drive the prescription pad in traditional psychiatry (though even that is changing, and it is very political). I have met so many amazing, caring people in the last 5 years of working in the field, some who have lots of experience, some who have lots of enthusiasm and real life experience but all who want something better for their patients. We’re all human and we are trying to build a bigger body of peer reviewed research without big dollars. Your feedback is part of that work, even when it is hard to read.

    With my best wishes,

    Heather Duke