Two mind theory helps patients see world in new way
March 13, 1999
From Bill Delaney
BROOKLINE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Harvard psychiatrist Fred Schiffers has a new take on the meanings of the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and is using his theory to help trouble people harmonize the two sides.
Traditionally the right side of the brain has been seen as poetic and emotional, while the left has been characterized as logical. Schiffers says that theory is a bit wrong-headed.
"Rather than one side being logical, I'm saying one side is neurotic. And the other side is mature," Schiffers said.
Under his theory, the right brain is the neurotic side and the left is the mature side. Schiffers has developed special glasses to help people stimulate the different hemispheres.
The right side of the brain can be stimulated by peering out the extreme left side of the left eye. Peering out the extreme right side of the right eye will stimulate the left side of the brain.
When the right side of the brain is stimulated Schiffers says people report feelings of uneasiness, feelings not there when just the left, more mature side, is stimulated.
One of Schiffers' patients, who uses the glasses, says this therapy enabled him to experience life without anxiety for the first time in his adult life.
Schiffers says the point of using the glasses in conjunction with conventional therapy is to reveal a patient's potential to heal.
"When I have the person put the glasses on and feel more depressed on one side, and on the other side feel safe and valued, but if they can see with their own eyes that they're valuable, this is compelling information. And the whole purpose of treatment becomes the teaching of the troubled side," Schiffer said.
Schiffers reports only about 60 percent of more than 200 of his patients respond to the glasses. Some feel no differing sensation between the halves of their brains.
But with other psychiatrists now introducing the glasses into their practices, some patients say the new way of seeing things is changing everything.
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