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The Power Of Biofeedback Essay

2365 words - 9 pages

Mind Over Matter: The use of Biofeedback to control stress, pain, and other bothersome problems

Having a bad day? Well, I am. I have too much work to do, like always, but I want and have to graduate. I think I'm happy about that, about putting an end to all the pressure I have felt in these last four years. Then again I am not sure what to think. I will miss my friends, especially all those people with whom I was briefly acquainted and liked enough to sense the possibility of friendship but will never know now. On top of these worries are more general fears of the uncertainty of the next few years, not to mention the rest of my life. Going home to a place I've never really liked simply because I can't think of anything better to do scares me; the possibility of getting stuck there scares me even more. I need to find a job. I need to find a career. I want to go to graduate school at some point, but my grades after this semester will not make admission easy. Needless to say, there is a lot on my mind. This morning I went in for a doctor's appointment, just a quick check-up because I've been sick. As is routine, the nurse took my blood pressure. Then she turned and frowned at me. Seems that the pressure I'm under is not just weighing down on my mind. My body is responding to my higher level worries by sending my blood slamming through me with alarming force. We like to think of stress as a purely higher level function which only effects us on that level, and generally ignore the effects it might have on us on a more biological as opposed to psychological level, i.e. on the level of our voluntary and autonomic response systems. We hear Doctors on TV and DJs on NPR warning us that stress can kill, but we disregard them until we see a nurse frown at us in disapproval. If it can have such negative effects on our body, why then do we experience stress? The stress response is defined as: "a set of changes in the body that result when the person experiences what they perceive to be a challenging or threatening situation." Physiological changes which may occur as the result of a stress response may include:

* Increased blood pressure

* Increased respiratory rate

* Increased heart rate

* Increased oxygen consumption

* Increased blood flow to skeletal muscles

* Increased perspiration

* Increased muscle tone (4)

These changes are related to what has long been know as the fight-or-flight reaction of the body. (2) When one finds oneself in what is perceived as a threatening situation, oneÕs body response to the strong emotions being produced by preparing the body to function at a higher level of efficiency in hopes of increasing the likelihood of survival. Scientists consider this reaction to be quite primitive, relating back to a time when survival depended more on response to external stimuli as opposed to internal processing of a situation. If one spotted a bear, such a stress reaction would be ideal to help her run away. Then,...

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