By Rob Kall, M.Ed.
"Feed a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to catch fish and he eats for a lifetime." Proverb
A recent Harvard study showed that people who follow healthy living guidelines can cut their risk of heart disease by 80 percent. Unfortunately they also found that less than one percent of the 84,129 health care providers in the study were actually able to live these healthy lives.
I think this inability to live healthy has come about because of:
1) the ready availability of drugs as a quick fix, and
2) Managed health Care’s preference for cheaper quick fixes for symptoms rather than wiser approaches long-term health.
This problem was typified recently, when A mother on Compuserve’s ADD forum asked about biofeedback for her ADD child. She said she was concerned that she’d read reports which indicated that biofeedback doesn’t always work and it is very expensive.
My reply could also apply to many self responsibility approaches to health. As you read this article, when it refers to ADD, you might consider that this can also apply to headache, pain, anxiety, depression, anger, irritable bowel, insomnia, and other disorders where the mind and brain contribute to starting or worsening symptoms.
As you read the term biofeedback, you can alternatively plug in exercise, diet, nutrition, meditation, relaxation, yoga or self hypnosis-- all self-health approaches which empower you to take greater self responsibility. These both improve your health and instill character building good habits based on self discipline and self awareness.
Here’s my reply to her:
The price of medication may seem low, but it wears off in a few hours and your child is no better off. Biofeedback follows the teach a man to fish model, and empowers people to become their better selves-- to develop inner resources and self responsibility for their behaviors-- attention, emotion, etc.
Biofeedback and other self responsibility approaches help build self esteem, character and they establish lifelong healthy habits and skills.
Expensive? think about it. You can often find EEG biofeedback for $50-$80 per session now, with 30-50 sessions usually necessary for ADD-- $1500- $4000. That's near the price you'd pay for braces, a summer at overnight camp, or a few years of music or tennis lessons. These are all nonessentials, but they sure are worth the investment.
We know that not only do the stimulants used to treat ADD not always work, but sometimes kids develop tics or other problems that did not appear before taking medication. Other medications have side-effects or can become habit forming. There's no such risk with biofeedback... or exercise or healthy diet.
It’s hard to understand a rationale which prefers medication over biofeedback (or for other disorders, exercise, behavioral interventions, meditation, nutrition, etc.) for ADD (or the other disorders listed above,) except for lack of adequate funds. It’s always possible to try drugs later.
I worry that our country is, for the sake of saving a few bucks off the cost of a monthly HMO fee, throwing away some of our most precious values-- self responsibility and self reliance.
If we just depend on managed health care, at least the way it currently acts, we will all soon become dependent on medications for any problem we face. We need to include consideration of character, integrity and inner strength in the health economics debate-- at the political and the kitchen table levels.
Just a note: If there is a question or mind/body optimal living topic you’d like covered, write to us care of Focus on Newtown, P.O. Box 701 Newtown PA 18940
Rob Kall, M.Ed., is a counselor, Biofeedback trainer and personal coach at
The Center for Optimal Living, 211 No. Sycamore Street, Newtown, PA 18940 215-504-1700
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