Top critical review
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Not about neurofeedback
on May 2, 2007
LENS is a technique of using short duration, low intensity radio waves at the same frequency of the brain, or with a specific offset, applied through an external scalp electrode to break up stuck brain patterns. The brain adapts and assumes a more flexible or more functional pattern, and the patient gets better. This book is about the results of a specific neurotherapy technique. It's not neurofeedback, although the author seems to think this verbal slight of hand is OK. The author claims that LENS is neurofeedback because it takes a signal from the brain and "feeds that same signal back to the brain." Under this definition, we should now call homeopathy a type of biofeedback.
I am not in a position to definitively say what neurofeedback is or is not. Anyone, including the author, is entitled to define what neurofeedback is. All I can say is that his definition is, at the very least, at the periphery of what the self-regulation disciplines of bioefeedback and neurofeedback are about at their core. Neurofeedback provides feedback to the person so that they can change a behavior or response. The LENS technique makes no attempt whatsoever to include the person in their treatment. It is something that is done to them, not with them.
It is not a "how to" book by any measure. It is an "about" book, from start to finish. The writing is light and easy to read, with only minimal detail about the specifics of the concept, and almost nothing about the actual implementation of the concept. So you won't learn much, other than LENS is wonderful and can help with many intractable conditions.
I believe the book has been given an inappropriate title. In fact, the proper titles are alluded to many times in the text itself, as well as the fact that LENS is a third or fourth generation acronym for the process. Some of the previous names describe it accurately by including the phrase disentrainment technique. The author refers to this throughout the book, so it remains a mystery as to why the technique has now been renamed LENS. Maybe he wanted a sexier title. Maybe he wanted to honor his mentor with an acronym that mimics his first name (Len). Who knows. In any case, I found both the title and subtitle misleading. The process is not neurofeedback. It is a type of electronic homeopathy. Second, the subtitle says "technique' but the book completely ignores the how to of LENS. It is almost entirely about the effects of LENS as presented by anecdotes of individual case studies.
I think this title creates more confusion than clarity, as does the subtitle. But it may be that the author believes it most closely resembles neurofeedback, or that their most likely group to recruit for this specific technique are those who are interested or practice neurofeedback, because they can most readily recognize how or why it would be helpful. But they are philosophically very different in one very critical aspect. In LENS, it is the operator or clinician who is making the choices and going through a learning process. The patient is 100% passive to the process. In biofeedback and neurofeedback, the patient or trainee is actually trying to learn something, or more accurately, to surrender or direct themselves in a way that something their brain is already capable of can more readily or more appropriately happen. With LENS you just get better. The downside of this is that you also become more dependent on a clinician with his black box and proprietary software. If it doesn't work, or if you get worse, then it's back to the clinician for more treatment, which is fundamentally the opposite of learning to self regulate. Yes, it is true that LENS is a method for regulating the brain. To call it self-regulation, when the word `self' refers to the patient's brain, as opposed to the patient who participates in the process of self regulation, is misleading.
This is another "aren't I wonderful, please come to my clinic" book. That's fine, sales and marketing are legitimate business functions and these sorts of books seem to be very popular in alternative medicine circles. But my preference is for books that provide me with useful skills. This book is merely an interesting read about a powerful new technique that is not accessible to the lay person. Neurofeedback, on the other hand, is accessible to the lay person. There are books, training is available, and I can buy hardware, software, and instructional materials so I can do it myself. LENS is only available at special clinics.
Do I think the technique is good? Yes, clearly it is widely beneficial. But this extended sales brochure is neither informative to someone who wants to learn how it is done (that's another seminar / book); nor is it informative to the potential patient who wants to fully understand what is being done to him by the clinician. But it sounds like a very good process, and if I were willing to pay $200+ per hour, wanted to travel somewhere far away, and didn't know what to do with myself for 15 hours of treatment, I would seriously consider it. As of the book's publication in 2006, there were supposedly 200 practitioners worldwide.
The author openly states that those who criticize LENS (Len?) are jealous of his process because they can't figure out how low intensity doses of radio waves for an average of less than 6 seconds per treatment (1 - 5 sites on the scalp) can be so helpful. I hope they are wildly successful, but with the total treatment time so extraordinarily short, they could just as easily make it available to 3 or 4 clients per hour, for 10 minutes of evaluation and 6 to 30 seconds of treatment. I think it is a probably a revolutionary, albeit (author agrees) not new treatment. Approaches to healing that are homeopathic in style have been around for a long time.
The book is simply the author's way of promoting their work, without actually saying much about what they do. Magical proprietary software and hardware do that. LENS' entry onto the alternative therapy scene will be slow and limited, the same as most other alternative therapies that are rolled out in this fashion, available to a select bunch who shell out big bucks for the real training, as opposed to the introduction that you received by buying the book. I strongly believe that if someone goes to the trouble of writing a book, he should also go to the trouble of empowering people to the greatest extent possible. This author doesn't necessarily fail this test, because after all, you now know there is a wonderful new therapy out there, you are creating the demand that future credentialed practitioners need to support a full time practice. But it doesn't pass the empowerment test, either.
Is the author a good guy with good intentions? I'm sure he is. Is the book well written, given what it actually covers? Yes. But is the topic worthwhile, worth sitting down, buying this book, and reading through it? Depends on what your goals are.