Thursday, February 15, 1996

A Mind-Body dichotomy?

William Rosenthal mentioned a case reported by child psychiatrist Erick Erickson, who treated a girl with focal epilepsy, by increasing (without medication) her resistance to life stressors.

The very same account could be made by many who approach stuttering exactly the same way: "increase resistance to stressors", and we know how varied the meaning of "successful" can be. Did this girl never have seizures again? Were they reduced in intensity? If the account indicates that effectively a permanent organic change was induced by the therapy, then this is a great example that reinforces the notion of early intervention with children at risk for stuttering. Thank you for providing it!

William Rosenthal makes the point that in fact any changes must happen in the neural circuitry, therefore the mind-body dichotomy is "a dead issue".

If I really sound like I am talking about a mind-body dichotomy then I am in
real trouble! My concern is that this "functioning of neural circuitry" be
refined MUCH further. Getting drunk affects the functioning temporarily,
getting drunk often causes long term permanent changes, having a lobotomy
causes immediate permanent changes. The functioning of neural circuitry may not be affected much by a trauma at 40 years of age, while the same trauma at 1 year can have permanent catastrophic consequences.

We have several more or less blunt instruments (speech therapy, psychotherapy, drugs, etc.) to operate on what is a "continuum of plasticity in time" and we don't not even understand the precise mechanisms we are trying to affect. No wonder we argue so much!

William Rosenthal: "We are more interested in the way mind and body represent each other and interact"

This is a much more dichotomized language than I like to use, but, substantially, I have been saying the same thing. In addition I've been stressing that, to use your language, what "mind and body" are and how "they" interact with each other changes in time. "Peeling the onion" may be a bit like doing archeology.

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