Psychologies – East and West Seminar: November 1975


A weekend symposium
November 22 & 23, 1975

A Continuing Education Program Sponsored by the
Department of Psychiatry

In cooperation with The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge

Biofeedback, meditation & self-regulatory therapies poster

Western science has only recently begun to explore the possibilities for training self-control of internal physiological and mental states. Scientific studies of ancient yogic techniques as well as the development of biofeedback technology provide measures of physiological activities and represent a major breakthrough in the area of psychosomatic research and mind-body self-regulation.

This symposium, designed principally for health professionals, will review and evaluate the rapidly developing research and clinical applications of the self-control of psychophysiological processes. In addition to presenting a critical over-view of the field, specific therapeutic applications will be assessed, including hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, stress syndrome, headache, sphincter control, muscular rehabilitation, and drug use.

Leading researchers will discuss the possibilities and limitations of biofeedback, meditation, and self-regulatory therapies in specific clinical applications, in the laboratory, and in preventive medicine. Such techniques may provide powerful tools for increasing the patient’s participation in his own therapy and health maintenance.


Saturday Morning

Introduction of Program ROBERT E. ORNSTEIN, Ph.D.

Overview of Biofeedback Research: Some Critical Problems in Experimental and Clinical Studies
The past ten years have seen an explosion of research in biofeedback. Biofeedback principles have been applied to training of glandular, visceral, cardiovascular, muscular, and central nervous system responses. The research began as demonstrations that such responses could be conditioned in animals and humans, and is gradually being extended into clinical applications. This research will be illustrated by experimental and clinical studies from Dr. Miller’s laboratory as well as others, and the major theoretical issues of biofeedback will be reviewed and critically evaluated.

The Placebo Effect: Old Wine in New Bottles?
The history of treatment is largely the history of the placebo effect. The greater a healer’s interest in a theory of therapy, particularly if he has innovated it, or if he is a recent convert, the more effective that therapy will be. These observations have led to the adage: “Treat as many patients as you can with the new remedies while they still have the powers to heal.” Despite the introduction of many specific or non-placebo remedies in the past 50 years, the powerful placebo may be the most extensively used treatment in medical or non-medical treatment even today. The placebo effect can be minimized or controlled only by carefully controlled and methodologically sophisticated clinical studies. An appreciation of the power of the placebo is essential to any evaluation of biofeedback and psychosomatic-therapies.


Operant Conditioning in Medicine: Some Cardiovascular and Gastrointestinal Clinical Applications
The application of operant conditioning principles, rewarding specific behaviors, to physiological responses has come to be known as biofeedback. These techniques afford specific control over previously involuntary bodily functions. Experimental studies have shown that cardiac arrhythmias (PVC’s, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome and tachyarrhythmias), hypertension, and chronic fecal incontinence can be brought under voluntary control, and some individuals can be trained to maintain this clinically significant control outside the laboratory setting.

EMG Feedback: Plus and Minus
Training “voluntary” muscles by feedback has never been considered theoretically unfeasible, but recent technical advances have made it more practical. One such advance has been Dr. Basmajian’s development of techniques for effectively training single motor units through EMG feedback. EMG feedback has been used to facilitate muscle retraining following injury or disease, progressive relaxation and systematic desensitization, and in treatment of tension headache, spasmodic torticollis, tics, and insomnia. It can be a powerful tool, with great promise if employed carefully, and disappointing if its limitations are not considered.

Small group discussion with speakers and viewing of the Veteran’s Administration film Dialogue of Biofeedback.

Sunday Morning

The Psychology of Self-Regulatory Therapies and Meditation
Many of the practices of esoteric traditions have common elements, although they appear diverse. Meditative techniques such as mantra, koans, whirling, attending to breathing all focus attention on one, unchanging source of stimulation. Physiological responses such as EEG alpha and relaxation are also common. The objective study of these practices may yield insights on the capabilities of human self-regulation. Their relation to biofeedback training will be discussed.

The Relaxation Response
An examination of the commonalities underlying various meditation and relaxation techniques reveals a basic psycho-physiological pattern—the relaxation response—which is the counterpart to the fight-or-flight response. Since the fight-or-flight response is frequently and inappropriately elicited in our society, leading to and making worse a variety of prevalent diseases, such as hypertension, the regular elicitation of the relaxation response could counteract these undesirable effects. The physiology, history, and clinical usefulness of the relaxation response will be discussed and the elicitation of the relaxation response demonstrated.


The Psychobiology of Transcendental Meditation
In the past five years an enormous volume of research on Transcendental Meditation has appeared. This research has assessed changes in respiration, blood pressure, blood chemistry, blood flow, GSR, EEG, and psychological functioning. Dr. Glueck will discuss research on effects of TM on marijuana, alcohol, and hard drug use, and on the use of TM in conjunction with psychoanalytic therapy. In addition he will describe his current large-scale study of TM including some EEG analyses that may distinguish between TM, alpha-biofeedback training, and progressive relaxation.

Autogenic Therapy: A Medical Approach to Homeostatic Self-Regulation
Autogenic therapy is a psychophysiologic form of therapy prescribed by a trained therapist and carried out by the patient himself. It approaches mental and bodily functions simultaneously and promotes the individual’s own homeostatic processes. Autogenic therapy has been applied to patients suffering from a variety of psychosomatic disorders, a number of mental and behavior disorders, certain organ diseases, and the psychophysiologic effects resulting from mental and bodily stress in general. It is widely employed in European medical practice and is supported by 50 years of clinical experience and more than 4,000 publications. Most of these publications are not in English and Dr. Luthe’s work has begun to make this literature more available to English speaking audiences. Dr. Luthe will review the major techniques and basic theory of autogenic therapy as well as some of the clinical and non-clinical applications.

Panel Discussion-Meditation and Self-Regulatory Therapies:
Critical Evaluation of Issues in Research and Clinical Applications


JOHN V. BASMAJIAN, M.D., F.A.C.A., is Director of the Regional Rehabilitation Research and Training Center and Professor of Physical Medicine and Anatomy at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has published widely in the areas of kinesiology and rehabilitation and has developed procedures for EMG biofeedback control of single motor units. His books include Muscles Alive and Computers in Electromyography.

HERBERT BENSON, M.D., is Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He is program director of the Clinical Research Center and head of the hypertension section at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. Dr. Benson has done extensive research in cardiology, operant conditioning of blood pressure, and the physiology of the relaxation response. He is also author of the book The Relaxation Response.

BERNARD T. ENGEL, Ph.D., is Chief of the Laboratory of Behavioral Sciences at the Gerontology Research Center, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Baltimore City Hospital and Associate Professor of Behavioral Biology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Engel and his associates have applied operant conditioning to teach patients to control their own cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension, and gastrointestinal difficulties.

BERNARD C. GLUECK, M.D., is Director of Research of The Institute of Living, Hartford, Connecticut. He is a Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, past-President of the American Psychopathological Association, a Fellow of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis, and has taught at Yale University, University of Minnesota, and Columbia University. His research and clinical interests have included the utilization of computers in psychiatric hospitals, psychotropic chemotherapeutic agents, and personality descriptors.

WOLFGANG LUTHE, M.D.. L.M.C.C., is Scientific Director of the Oskar Vogt Institute, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan. He is also directing research on neurofunctional implications of education at the University of Quebec and practices psychosomatic medicine in Montreal. In addition to his numerous research papers, Dr. Luthe has edited, co-authored, and authored ten books on autogenic therapy, including his recent book Creativity Mobilization Technique and the standard work on the subject, the six-volume Autogenic Therapy.

NEAL E. MILLER, Ph.D., is Professor and head of a laboratory of physiological psychology at The Rockefeller University. Dr. Miller has made outstanding contributions to the study of learning and motivation and was the first researcher to challenge the traditional view that visceral and glandular responses could not be operantly conditioned. For the past ten years his laboratory has been exploring some of the possibilities of visceral learning. He is co-author of the classic Social Learning and Imitation, and 64 of his papers have been collected in Neal E. Miller: Selected Papers.

ROBERT E. ORNSTEIN, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Medical Psychology with the Institute for the Study of Human Consciousness at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco, and President of the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge. He has done research on the relation of hemispheric specialization to consciousness, biofeedback of EEG asymmetry, and the experience of time. Dr. Ornstein is the editor of The Nature of Human Consciousness, the author of The Psychology of Consciousness and the co-author of The Psychology of Meditation.

ARTHUR K. SHAPIRO, M.D., is Director of the Special Studies Laboratory, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in Pharmacology, and Attending Psychiatrist at Payne Whitney Clinic, the New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical College. He is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and in addition to his extensive research and publications on the placebo effect, Dr. Shapiro maintains a practice in clinical psychiatry.

Program co-chairmen are MEL ROMAN, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Director of Group and Family Studies in the Department of Psychiatry at the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center; and CHARLES SWENCIONIS, Managing Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge and doctoral candidate in psychology at Stanford University.