In demonstrating the necessity for the re-training of cerebral control, we said that patients must be shown what to do. How to achieve this is, in fact, the tricky part of the problem, and will be of special interest to physicians who are directly involved in treatment. However, before beginning our study of the training itself, we should explain the procedure we will be using, i.e. how we will show patients precisely what they should do.
Direct control of the brain, at the present stage of scientific development, is beyond our control. This means that there are few means at our disposal to verify what patients report in terms of what is actually happening in the brain.
Struck by this gap in our scientific knowledge, I tried to find some simple method of verification.
It seemed to me to be quite amazing that symptoms which are sometimes extremely intense could not be perceived (i.e. verified) objectively. The cerebral pulse (electroencephalograph) provided some indication of what was going on, but was not practical enough, and required the use of highly sensitive instruments. My own personal experience showed me that, contrary to current opinion, the hand, when placed on the forehead of a patient, and when sufficiently trained, can provide a fairly accurate indication of what is happening in the brain. It is very likely that the entire body vibrates in unison with the brain, a sensation which is clearly felt by persons suffering from certain disorders. This vibration is not limited to the forehead, but is more perceptible in that region. It is completely different from the cerebral pulse, and is caused by a contraction of the skin and skin muscles. The intensity of the contraction corresponds to the patient’s
intensity of concentration.
Therefore, perceiving this vibration is not a question of having some kind of special gift or having especially sensitive hands; for years, many patients have been able to perceive it just as well as I can. I am well aware of how skeptical people will be about this, because it is difficult to admit that the brain’s activity can be detected through the skull; I cannot explain how it works - all I can say is that there is an exterior effect, and this effect can be felt by the hand; it appears as a series of repeated shocks, creating the sensation of a wave or particular kind of vibration.
For those who wish to try it, here’s how to proceed:
Ask someone to concentrate on the ticking of a metronome, or better still to mentally repeat the ticking sound. Place your hand on the person’s forehead, either flat or cupped, and you will feel a subtle shock or beating which is more perceptible on either the right or left side, depending on where the metronome needle is.
If you increase the metronome’s speed, the beating will become more rapid; decrease the speed and the beating slows down accordingly. If the subject is distracted, you will not feel any beats - the sensation in your hand will change, or stop altogether. There is, therefore, a correlation between what the subject is thinking and the sensation you experience in your hand.
It is possible that your sensation will not be precise enough the first time you try the experiment, but if you are patient, the sensation gradually becomes clear.
We are presenting this phenomenon as a simple hypothesis, although later on we will provide more complete and scientific proof of its accuracy.
For the moment, lets us assume that the sensation which is perceived does relate to cerebral activity, and that it is modified according to the state the brain is in. It then becomes easy to perceive the difference between a calm brain and one which is agitated, as well as the difference between a controlled idea or thought, and one which isn’t. This phenomenon is a powerful diagnostic tool, allowing doctors to verify how patients are thinking or behaving.
We are in no way suggesting that we can determine what a patient is thinking with this technique. All we can do is verify his/her level of control.
With a little practice, you can begin to recognize certain different sensations, perceived through the hands, which correspond to different states of the brain. We will try to describe them, and give names to the various vibrations or waves which are perceived.
Abnormal states of the brain
In the context of non-control, we find three main types of abnormalities:
1. State of torpor
2. State of hyperactivity
3. State of tension
1. The state of torpor is characterized by a reduction of sensation perceived by the hand; reactions are slower and more irregular; it feels as if the brain is less active, heavy, and lacking energy.
2. The state of hyperactivity, on the other hand, is accompanied by very strong, but disorganized sensations, which differ from normal agitation which always present a certain regularity of vibration.
3. The state of tension almost always causes pain, either piercing pain in the nape of the neck, or pressure on the temples. Patients feel as if their brain is “blocked or contracted.” At first, the phenomenon is caused by a natural defense against anxiety, or simply because patients become more or less conscious that they are not in control of their own brain. It is therefore constantly present in all neurasthenics.
The initial temporary symptom can, in certain cases, become persistent, and create a particular type of disorder.
This particular type, although it occurs relatively frequently, seems to have been ignored by most authors. It is characterized by three
Irritability is the result of the hypersensitivity of the brain in a state of constant tension, and since this state is ermanent, it is quite natural for persons to become irritated and upset about almost anything. Pain varies in intensity and form: patients sometimes feel as if they are about to explode -the skull feels too small to contain the pressure; or they may feel as if a steel band were being progressively tightened around their head. One patient described it as feeling like a
violin string which has been tuned too tightly, and which vibrates with pain.
Fatigue is a perfectly normal result, considering the extreme tension; this cannot go on indefinitely, and when it stops patients experience intense fatigue, which they end up fearing as much as the pain itself.
The tension or feeling of contraction is not limited to the brain, but can be felt throughout the body. In the first place, muscles become more or less contracted, and sometimes painful; walking becomes difficult, and sometimes impossible;
balance is unstable. Patients may also suffer from contractions of the esophagus, stomach or intestines.
These muscular symptoms often lead to an erroneous diagnosis, especially when they are limited to a single arm or leg. They may be mistakenly attributed to hysterical contractions and, when more generalized, to lesions of the encephalon or spinal cord. It is easy to detect this kind of cerebral tension through direct examination: the vibrations are very tense, like a wire vibrating very quickly; waves have hardly any amplitude, and are so faint they are hardly perceptible.
Normal or abnormal vibrationsAs we have just seen, different abnormal states of the brain produce
different sensations, which can be detected through hand contact. To make this more clear, let’s look at the most typical kinds of vibrations we are likely to encounter - this will make it easier for those who wish to try the experiment themselves. First, let’s look at the vibrations produced by a normal brain.
In these cases, you will perceive a kind of pulsing, which varies in speed, depending on the state of the brain, from between 5 and 100 beats per minute. The slower the vibration, the calmer the brain; the faster the vibration,
the more animated the brain is. There are also differences in amplitude and strength. Also, as soon as willpower comes into play, it is easy to detect an immediate increase in vibratory speed and/or amplitude.
Despite these variations, all normal vibrations are fairly rhythmic and regular; this is what differentiates them from abnormal vibrations, which are always irregular.
If you examine a neurasthenic’s brain, even during periods when s/he feels perfectly normal, you will never detect very regular vibrations. They may appear to be normal at first, since you can perceive a few rhythmic beats, but suddenly they change, and you feel a series of disorganized beats, after which they become regular for awhile, only to change again a little later on. If you question the patient, s/he may tell you that the change was due to a thought or a distraction, or
s/he may not have been conscious of the change at all. The examining physician can conclude with certainty that the change was due to an interruption of cerebral control.
As soon as patients become obsessed with an idea, or simply overexcited, the pulse becomes very rapid -too fast to count. You may also perceive a violent pulse, followed by a series of very rapid, fluttering vibrations, which are hardly perceptible; in addition, rarely do subsequent series of vibrations exhibit the same amplitude or intensity.
The state of anxiety is simply an increase in patients’ already overexcited cerebral activity; beats are even more intense and more disorganized, and create a feeling of terror or panic. The state of tension mentioned earlier represents a fourth form of abnormality, presenting the same irregularities as those described above.
These various modalities constitute the major forms of the state of cerebral non-control; as soon as they are detected, a physician may proceed with the training program we referred to earlier on.
How to modify an abnormal vibration
If we accept the fact that abnormal vibrations, which correspond to particular states of cerebral non-control, exist, then we can conclude that any insufficiency modifies brain function. When treating neurasthenia, we will have to take this new element into account, since it guides us towards the development of an effective training program: the re-education of cerebral control cannot be considered complete until the abnormal brain function has been replaced, and abnormal vibrations are replaced by normal vibrations. The first question we have to ask then is how can we change the
To do this we first have to discover what causes them. We already know the answer - they are caused either by an instability, or an insufficiency of cerebral control. But these very general causes do not give us enough of an indication upon which to base a training or reeducation program. Therefore, there are other factors which we must consider carefully, and which can provide us with keys to the puzzle. When examining a patient’s skull, it very often happens that we feel a change in the abnormal vibration; it resumes a regular rhythm, and resembles vibrations characteristic of cerebral control.
What causes this sudden change in abnormal vibration? Here are the three main reasons:
1. If the case is one of simple instability, it is enough for the patient to become more aware of what s/he is doing and thinking.
2. When there is some degree of insufficiency, awareness alone is not enough; the patient must be able to concentrate on what s/he is thinking or doing.
3. The third factor, and the most important, can replace the previous two: it involves bringing willpower into play. The patient must make the thought or act voluntary, in other words the thought or act is subject to his/her will.
Therefore, normal cerebral control depends on these three factors - awareness, concentration and willpower - being present. Patients have to be sufficiently conscious, concentrated, and able to exercise willpower, in order to modify an abnormal vibration.