Brain Waves, Criminality, Neurofeedback, Diet, Self-Esteem

A growing body of research indicates that ADHD kids are far more likely to become criminals, thrill seekers, successful or bankrupt risk obsessive entrepreneurs.  Because of slower than normal waves in the prefrontal cortex, the front of the brain cannot communicate effectively with the midbrain and properly regulate emotions in everyday life.

Damage to the cortex from accident, physical abuse, sports, genetics, oxygen deprivation at birth, or drinking by the mother apparently causes slower than normal waves in the front of the brain and the inability to engage the other systems.

Because the brain’s internal communication system in people with slow wave activity in the frontal lobes is sluggish, incoming messages need to be more sensational than normal to achieve the same level of stimulation.

A study of 101 students from age fifteen to age twenty-nine found that kids with low arousal in the prefrontal cortex had a much greater chance of becoming delinquents.  The theory is that these kids become addicted to stimulation that increases their arousal levels back to normal.  Some adolescents join a gang, burglarize a house, or beat someone up to get an arousal jag.  (Getting Rid of Ritalin)

There are inmates that could more safely be released early saving many millions of dollars if they were released with balanced brains and good work experience.  Most inmates enter and leave prison with unbalanced brains which is the root of their criminal and addictive behavior.  All of us seek relief from pain.  If the left side of our brains to a large degree were unbalanced from its right side we would be tormented.  Sometimes abnormal behavior seems to be the drug of choice in dealing with this torment.

The following Information on neurofeedback and the brain comes from multiple neurofeedback websites and this information has been supported in print by many books on neurofeedback.

Our behavior, thinking, and what we are going to do with our life is influenced by the type of brain waves we produce and where in our brains we produce them.  Brain scans reveal that when brain function in one area is abnormal, so is behavior.

There are four distinct regions of the brain.  The top layer is the cortex.  Especially in the front of the cortex is where reason, planning, writing, and reading, and a host of other cognitive functions take place.  The cortex is what makes us human, what distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom, by mitigating our baser instincts.

The left prefrontal cortex, directly behind the forehead, governs the positive emotional circuitry and the right prefrontal cortex governs negative emotional circuits.  Both operate in the alpha range.  If the right becomes dominant and the left underpowered, it causes an asymmetry that leads to depression.  The left side simply can’t generate the wattage to engage positive emotions.

Beneath the cortex is the mammalian brain, or the limbic system, the portion of the brain that governs pain and pleasure, including sex, eating, fighting, and taking flight.

Below that is the diencephalon, which regulates our sleep and appetite.

The bottom layer is the primitive regulatory machinery, the reptilian brain.  This region is concerned with function—breathing, blood pressure, movement, and body temperature.

The four parts of the brain as well as myriad areas across the surface of the cortex, must talk to one another constantly, and the brain accomplishes that by means of its vast assembly of tiny electrical neurons.

Neurons build up a charge electrochemically and then release it over and over again connecting it with other neurons.

Balancing and optimizing the brain involves collecting brain waves of an individual and producing individualized computer feedback based on the data collected. This process includes personalized exercises to balance and organize the brain.  This process is curative while typical prison 12 step based treatment programs are coping oriented.

The brain continuously produces combinations of four distinct frequencies, or speeds, of brain waves — delta, theta, alpha, and beta — and our state of consciousness depends on which of these waves is dominant.

When we sleep, delta waves take over, with their slow-moving signals traveling at up to 4 cycles per second, or four hertz (Hz).   Delta is often associated with the very young.

Slightly faster are theta waves (4 to 8 Hz), associated with the twilight consciousness on the brink of sleep in which dreamlike mental images can surface. Theta is associated with drowsiness, childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.  Theta waves can be seen during hypnagogic states such as trances, hypnosis, deep day dreams, lucid dreaming and light sleep and the preconscious state just upon waking, and just before falling asleep.   Theta is part of the subconscious range and hypnosis can take place at this range although very few people ever get down into this range for very long.  All our emotional experiences seem to be recorded in this group.  This range is that special range that opens the door of consciousness into the world of psychic phenomena.

Above theta is alpha (8 to 12 Hz), the calm and mentally unfocused state typically connected with relaxation.  It is characteristic of a relaxed, alert state of consciousness. Alpha rhythms are best detected with the eyes closed. Alpha is the range usually regarded as the subconscious range.  This is where nearly all hypnosis takes place.  This is also where all daydreaming takes place.  Meditation is mostly in this range also, sometimes dipping into the next slower range.

In our normal waking state, when our eyes are open and focused on the world, beta waves are in charge.  Within beta itself, scientists recognize a range called Sensory Motor Rhythm (SMR) 12-15 Hz rhythm seen in neurofeedback associated with inhibition of motor activity.  ADHD, epilepsy, and autism may benefit from an increase in SMR activity via neurofeedback.  Beta ranges up to what is sometimes referred to as gamma or high beta which can climb as high as 35 Hz.  Gamma rhythms appear to be involved in higher mental activity, including perception, problem solving, fear, and consciousness.  Beta/gamma is where we do our reasoning and conduct most of our affairs while awake.  For the most part, we seem to operate around 20 cycles per second during most awake activity.

When we sleep at night, our brains automatically cycle down to 14 and below cycles per second and then for brief cyclic periods below seven and sometimes below four.  Most of our sleep in the seven to fourteen cycles per second range.

EEGs of alcoholics have revealed an inability to produce the alpha waves generally associated with feelings of relaxation and comfort. However, theta and alpha waves increase following the use of alcohol.  This can be expected considering the drowsiness and relaxation are common effects of alcohol. Therefore, alcoholics may be self-medicating.

Neurofeedback (NFB), also called neurotherapy, neurobiofeedback or neurofeedback biofeedback is a therapy technique that presents the user with real time feedback on brainwave activity, as measured by electrodes on the scalp, typically in the form of a video display, sound or vibration.

The aim is to enable conscious control of brainwave activity. If brain activity changes in the direction desired by the therapist, a positive “reward” feedback is given to the individual, and if it regresses, either a negative feedback or no feedback is given (depending on the protocol). Rewards can be as simple as a change in pitch of a tone or as complex as a certain type of movement of a character in a video game.

It is controversial to those “Individuals accustomed to more traditional, linear-based thinking in western medicine and psychology who may find it hard to believe that merely showing the brain to itself has the same strength of effect as a carefully controlled psychoactive medication.”   Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 2005; 1-19:14.

Neurofeedback is similar but differs from biofeedback which by broad definition, refers to the process in which subtle information on how a person’s body and brain are operating is amplified and shown back to that person. Simple devices measuring muscle tension and body temperature, for example, help people learn to regulate their blood pressure, temperature, and other physical and mental processes not typically under their conscious control.

Many forms of biofeedback are now well established as treatments for stress related conditions such as migraine headaches and chronic pain. Today these types of biofeedback are not only practiced at such bastions of main stream medicine as the Mayo Clinic, but are increasingly being paid for by insurance companies as well.

Why isn’t neurofeedback being used extensively in schools and prisons?  A good question considering we keep spending more tax dollars to create more of these prisons and pass more laws that keep inmates in these prisons longer.  States are struggling with costly corrections policies, a record number of prisoners, and the ongoing need to maintain public safety.  Because of the “get-tough-on-crime” policies during the 1980s and 1990s, states today face a record population in corrections.

What is it costing states? Corrections was one of the fastest growing line items in state budgets during the 1990s. In fact, states paid roughly $40 billion in 2000 for corrections, up from $5 billion in the late 1970s. Estimates suggest that on average it costs $60 per day or $22,000 per year to house an inmate.

Now states are exploring many options to decrease the cost of corrections such as releasing inmates early, abolishing mandatory minimum sentencing laws, developing treatment opportunities for nonviolent offenders, and capitalizing on community-based supervision.  In 2005, Arkansas, Kentucky, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas released nonviolent criminals early by granting clemency.  Ohio and Illinois are closing prisons. Iowa laid off corrections officers.  Minnesota started charging inmates room and board.  Michigan, Mississippi and North Dakota have either repealed or changed their mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Many states are also looking to the courts for help in diverting offenders away from incarceration using a mix of treatment, probation and judicial oversight. Drug courts, interagency treatment programs, have thus far demonstrated success in reducing recidivism and are relatively cost effective. Other specialized courts emerging nationwide include mental health courts, domestic violence courts, homeless courts, teen courts, tobacco courts, and some forms of family courts.

But, we still have prisons that bring together people who have caused problems for others, keep them together for several to many years, and then release them back to their neighborhoods and communities unwanted and untrusted where they will again be looking for their support groups

There are now more than 1.2 million inmates in state custody, many of whom are nonviolent offenders. In fact, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 51 percent of all state prison inmates were sentenced for nonviolent crimes and 21 percent of those are drug related. Combined with more than 4.6 million adults and over 670,000 juveniles in community supervision, corrections facilities are quickly reaching unmanageable levels.

Perhaps the main reason neurofeedback is not used extensively in prisons is another form of politics.  Many corrections managers are followers and not leaders, they generally like to mimic programs they are familiar with, and they are very much into control.   Inmates and prison management do not like change.  People with careers in corrections have learned that change often bites back.

Neurofeedback due to its limited use does not enjoy widespread political correctness.  Why?  Because medical spending has been cut back and there is a turf war for health care dollars.    Neurofeedback is a major threat to the medical industrial complex.  Large drug companies, like big oil companies have perhaps slowed the development and implementation of alternative fuels, have perhaps slowed research and then have complained that existing research should be more robust before the benefits of this alternative treatment can be fully appreciated.

Neurofeedback is not something that can packaged and sold like drugs and make large amounts of money.  Where does neurofeedback leave traditional medicine if a majority of the problems treated are stress-related and an effective alternative non-drug approach to stress is found?  The stakes are high.  Many in corrections typically look for reasons to not do something and that lack of entrepreneurial spirit keeps prisons from being reinvented.

And finally, despite neurofeedback’s proven long-term success, the technique has not become a mainstream treatment because unlike drug therapy, which can have immediate results for as long as the drug is used although once the drug is not taken it is as if it were never taken other than for the side effects.  Neurofeedback requires up to 40 one-hour sessions to complete therapy.

Change is slow to non-existent in corrections and the politics of prisons is a major factor and those politics change every five years.  For five years it is popular for prisons to exist for punishment.  Then for five years it is popular for prisons to make inmates work and then for five years it is popular for them to be treatment oriented.  It is a fifteen year cycle of punishment, work, and treatment.  To avoid this lack of inconsistent policy and limited treatment budgets all three concepts need to be implemented at the same time.  The public and politicians need to be made aware that all three concepts exist simultaneously.

Inmates should be grouped by their attitudes and not by their crimes.  If inmates do not want to participate in treatment or education and are predators, house them together, minimize movement, and this group becomes the prisons-are-for-punishment group.  Medications as needed should be supplied.

For those inmates that are not predators but are not ready to seek improvement within themselves they should be housed together and given work and they become the prisons-are-for-work group.  Medications as needed should be supplied.

Inmates that are not predators and sincerely want to change their behaviors and learn should be housed together and this group becomes the prisons-are-for-treatment group.  This becomes the group that should be released early to relieve overcrowding and overall prison costs.  Alternatives to medications should be sought for this group such as neurofeedback.

When an inmate arrives at a prison for the first time, for most, it is a moment of horror.  They have no seniority; they don’t know who is going to be friend or foe.  They are in a crowd and they will have to learn to survive quickly.

When we are worried about survival, we look at the alternatives that we believe might exist.  The alternatives seem very basic.  Stay alive, stay in one piece, find friends, find something to do.  The time drags out, days and nights are long.

New inmates want to reestablish something they are familiar with.  Something that they can hang onto that gives them some strength, some remembrance of their former lives.  Depending on the inmate this takes various forms but, they all need to find where their friends are, where their groups are.  So in prison the faces and names change but the influential groups remain basically the same.

It is with their friends and groups that they achieve a certain amount of peace and normality.  They can talk together, plan together, protect each other.  It becomes similar to a family, a rough family, but a family just the same and inmates need to find their family as soon as they can.  It is a hard beginning for the first time inmate.  Inmates that have committed major crimes can find their families more quickly than those coming in with softer crimes.

Usually the priority for new inmates is safety and finding their groups.  Fear drives inmates to fit in.  All inmates fear not being able to handle prison life and its restrictions, and potential pressures from other inmates.

Whenever an inmate’s mind is occupied with fear of being battered, assaulted, or molested their minds change.  The longer they live in that fear the more their minds change.  Their emotions become dominated with shame, guilt, apathy/hopelessness, grief, fear, and anger–the lowest six of the seventeen emotions.  Prisons do not serve the public when they release inmates dominated by these emotions.

When inmates’ emotions are dominated with shame, guilt, apathy/hopeless, grief, fear, and anger they stop trying to change their ways and make no attempt to look within and eliminate the thinking and behaving that led to incarceration.

Where survival is a dominant concern, where molestation is a dominant concern, where being forced to commit a perverse act is a dominant concern, where injury is a dominant concern within prison, rehabilitation does not exist.  Instead, these prisons become breeding grounds for increased negative harmful behavior that gets dumped back into neighborhoods, communities, and ghettos.

Most inmates don’t like feeling they had to be separated from their communities as if they were not good enough to live with everybody else and had to be taken away and locked up.  There emotions contain a large element of shame.  Shame is never good.  It gets in the way always.

Although inmates knew if they were caught for the crimes they were committing they could go to prison they didn’t realize how they were going to feel about being shunned from their communities.

It is easier mentally to sleep in a locked cell and deal with the restrictions than it is to feel unworthy to live in free neighborhoods and communities.  Many inmates refuse to accept that their wrongs should cause them to be locked away from society. They see prison as one side against another.  For much of their lives, inmates have grown up living by different rules, having different views of life, and have programmed themselves with different concepts that they believe are right.  Some believe the world is against them.

Anger brews deeply in their minds and hearts.  Resentment grows, desperation grows.  They find their prison family means more and more to them for most inmates it is all they have.  Getting to be with their groups, sharing, interacting, challenging others for in many ways it is like being back on the streets, or back in a gang, back in financially challenged neighborhoods.

So they begin to lead their life as closely as they can in the way in which they lived while outside prison except their emotions have sunk to lower levels of consciousness.  To better understand what I mean by this let’s look at David R Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. thinking from his book Power versus Force, The Hidden Determinants Of Human Behavior, By Hay House 2002.

Hawkins created a map of consciousness that placed the predominant 17 emotions a person might have ranging from shame to enlightenment.    Here are those emotions from lowest to highest:  1 shame, 2 guilt, 3 apathy/hopelessness, 4 grief, 5 fear, 6 anger, 7 pride, 8 courage, 9 neutrality, 11 willingness, 12 acceptance, 13 reason, 14 love, 15 joy, 16 peace, 17 enlightenment.

His studies showed that at levels below courage, the primary impetus is personal survival, although at the very bottom of the scale where hopelessness and depression reside, even this motive is lacking.  He says at least fear and anger contain survival instincts.

At the level of pride, Hawkins states, the survival motive may expand to comprehend the survival of others as well.  As we move into the level of courage, the well-being of others becomes increasingly more important.

According to Hawkins a person in grief will be in better condition when they rise to anger.  People have been known to start a healing process when instead of just giving in to the disease they got mad and that energy sparked their healing process.  No one has started the healing process by getting mad at the disease however.  It is the type of anger that says stop! I have had enough of this and I am moving forward, changing as I need to change.  Apathy can imprison entire subcultures as well as individuals and does not have the energy to start a healing process.

If the hopeless can come to want something better like desire and then use the energy of anger to develop pride they may then be able to take the step to courage and proceed to improve their individual or collective conditions.  By the way, the mental thought patterns that some believe cause the most disease in the body are criticism, anger, resentment and guilt.

As a side note, we are aware there is anger in the Middle East and in many of our communities and schools as well as in our prisons.  The question, that once answered, with lead to policy, is how do we move the Middle East and others from anger to pride?  How do individuals, groups, subcultures, move from anger to pride?  How can that anger be properly directed toward sparking individual change instead of destructive behaviors toward circumstances or others?

Here is some great news that Hawkins studies have shown.  He tells us that as a person advances in the evolution of his individual consciousness, the process starts to perpetuate and correct itself so that self improvement becomes a way of life.

I have come to understand that it is the group with which an inmate identifies with and not their individual personality that often determines their behavior and that they begin to see what the group sees and stop seeing some of the things that they were seeing or would see as an individual. They change when they join a group or when they have new friends.

I have also come to understand that if inmates leave a group they will see more nuances and have more flexibility and doubt about that group’s thinking and become less convinced of what they were saying and doing as part of that group.  Groups inculcate a sense of belonging and hence obligation to the group, the merits of which an inmate would recognize if they were safe to be a freer thinking individual.

Prisons need to put even more effort into dividing inmates into groups before the inmates do it for themselves and then make sure those groups stay separated.  Outstanding classification of inmates and having the facilities to separate the classifications has to be the top program priority for prisons.  Spending money on any kind of training or education offered in the wrong environment is a waste.

The environment is what controls change and that environment can create both good and destructive change within inmates. Dangerous predators who have murdered, raped, tortured, assaulted in and out of prison, need to be in prisons just for them where there are enough beds and bars to keep them separated from each other. Mixing hard core predators into the general population spoils the soup regardless of the quality of the other ingredients.  But that is the easy part.  The groups need to be composed of inmates with similar emotions and the details of doing that is where the devil lives.

Prisons house people that have a wide variety of emotions and mentalities.  What do prisons need to be able to do with these people?  In our school text books we might recall coming across Abraham H. Maslow’s now famous hierarchy of needs.

Maslow told us that beyond the details of air, water, food, exercise, rest, waste elimination, and sex there were five broader layers including the needs for safety and security, the needs for love and belonging, the needs for esteem, and the need to actualize the self, in that order.

When the most basic needs are largely taken care of, safety and security needs comes into play.  We become increasingly interested in finding safe circumstances, stability, and protection.  We might develop a need for structure, for order, some boundaries.

Looking at it negatively, we become concerned, not with needs like hunger and thirst, but with our fears and anxieties.  In the ordinary American adult, this set of needs manifest themselves in the form of our urges to have a home in a safe neighborhood, job security and money in a savings account, a good retirement plan and a bit of insurance, and so on.

When physiological needs and safety needs are mostly taken care of, love and belonging needs emerge.  We begin to feel the need for friends, a lover, children; affectionate relationships in general, even a sense of community–Looked at negatively, we become increasingly susceptible to loneliness and social anxieties.

Next, we begin to look for a little self-esteem.  Maslow noted two versions of esteem needs, a lower one and a higher one.  The lower one is the need for the respect of others, the need for status, fame, glory, recognition, attention, reputation, appreciation, dignity, even dominance.  The higher form involves the need for self-respect, including such feelings as confidence, competence, achievement, mastery, independence, and freedom.  The negative version of these needs is low self-esteem and inferiority complexes.

All of the preceding four levels Maslow calls deficit needs.  If you don’t have enough of something, you feel the need, but if you get all you need, you feel nothing at all and they cease to be motivating.  Maslow sees all these needs as essentially survival needs.  Even love and esteem are needed for the maintenance of health.  He says we all have these needs built in to us genetically.

Under stressful conditions, or when survival is threatened, we can regress to a lower need level.  When our career falls flat, we might seek out attention.  When our family leaves us, it seems that love is again all we ever wanted.  When we face chapter eleven after a long and happy life, we suddenly can’t think of anything except money.  What might inmates be missing that would keep them from changing?

These things can occur on a society-wide basis as well:  When society feels like they are in a rut strong leaders are sought to take over and make things right and when things are going right society doesn’t think about leadership.  When we experience natural disasters, we look for safety.  When there is insufficient food our needs become even more basic.

We can ask people what their ideal life or world would be like and get significant information as to what needs they do or do not yet have covered. If we have significant problems along our development — a period of extreme insecurity or hunger as a child, or the loss of a family member through death or divorce, or significant neglect or abuse — we may fixate on that set of needs for the rest of our life.

The last level is a bit different. These are needs that do not involve balance or having enough and unlike deficit needs, they are likely to become stronger as we feed them.  They involve the continuous desire to fulfill potentials.  They are a matter of becoming the most complete and fullest we can be. What do we need to do within our schools and prisons to free a person to explore their potential or feel a desire to reach their potential?

Prisons offer food, clothing, shelter, medical care, medications, structure in varying degrees including meal times, clothing exchange times, yard time, and when available school, church, and work time and all of these things are huge. These things meet the basic needs of humans with the exception of sex as described by Maslow.  For many inmates, this is the first time those basic needs have been consistently met and taken for granted to the extent that they were no longer driving needs.

Prisons spend great sums of money on inmate medical care.  This could be reduced through better diets and positive social networks.  Study after study tell us that individuals that do not have supportive spouses and or supportive social networks have increased medical needs including, especially for women, increased incidence of cancer.

Every Tuesday night at 5:30, inmates serving time for murder and other felonies file into a San Quentin prison chapel to do yoga.  The class is made up of 20 men who are a mix of body types, skin colors, tattoos (including a swastika), and ages (from 33 to 63).  After a 90-minute class, the prisoners sit in the lotus position for 20 minutes of meditation.  It seems that this class is reducing violence.  The participating inmates are very devoted to their yoga.  This is an example of a quiet positive social network.

But life in prison is much like the movie Ground Hog Day.  The same routine everyday with generally the same outcomes none of which seems to build anything except the number of days served.  What might have been built on the outside begins to crumble as relationships become more distant and friends and family relocate or disappear, and as job skills if they ever existed erode.

So, things get built inside prisons as some inmates build their power base while some look for other ways to influence staff or inmates, and some look for ways to entertain themselves and for most, hope for a better life fades.  The answer is not one of sympathy.  Sometimes people need to hit rock bottom before they are ready to begin the process of lifting themselves out of the hole they have been digging over the years and probably lifetimes.

Once inmates feel safe and are properly grouped, and have made friends within their proper group, diet, exercise, and sunlight should be addressed before programming.  Prisons need to provide healthier food.  The people coming into prison are generally less healthy than normal.  Much of this is due to diet and unstructured living.  If prisons were to spend more money on meals that provide proper nutrition they would spend less money on their skyrocketing medical and pharmacy budgets.

The human brain uses 40% our energy.  For it to grow and improve it has to have better nutrition than what it has been getting.  Here are some broad nutrition guidelines:

Everything white such as refined flour, sugar, grains is bad and brown things such as whole unpolished grains, and natural sugar in fruits and honey are good.  Wheat is brown but it converts to sugar almost as fast as does a cookie so multi-grain should always be chosen over 100 percent wheat.  We used to have unprocessed cereals before many of them became refined and the best was taken out of the grains.  Processed white grains, white breads, white rice, processed cereals are not friends of the colon.  A diet unbalanced with too much red meat and pork is a diet unfriendly to our body.  If we haven’t heard by now that lots of fruit and vegetables in our diet are mandatory for good health, we really have been on a carnal trip that has been loaded with denial.

Dark leafy greens like spinach, collards, kale and mustard greens are great for our sight.  They are rich in phytochemicals, especially lutein and zeaxanthin that are supposed to be huge antioxidants.  Berries, such as blueberries and strawberries are rich in antioxidants.  Some berries including raspberries and blackberries provide fiber and helps lower our risk of developing heart disease and certain types of cancer.  Berries may also help to slow age-related declines in nerve and brain function.

Eating fish two or three times a week is great for the heart.  The most beneficial are the oily ones such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, because they’re high in a particular type of fat called omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3s can help fight heart disease and may also prevent cancer and limit tumor growth and may prevent rheumatoid arthritis and alleviate symptoms of arthritis if you already have it.  We seem to have a natural distaste to sardines and we all probably understand why we have such a reluctance, but why do we avoid soy?

The research on soy’s ability to protect our heart is so strong that the FDA now allows manufacturers to put a claim on all foods that have at least 6.25 grams on soy protein saying that the soy in conjunction with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may lower our risk of heart disease.  Soy lowers total blood cholesterol and also keeps bad LDL cholesterol levels in check.  Soy also appears to protect against prostate cancer, and maybe help preserve bone density after menopause.

Multi-grain bread and pasta, brown rice and oatmeal are super disease fighters.  And beans provide protein and are fat free.  Yogurt probably boosts our immune system.  Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage are disease fighters and helps stop tumors from forming.  If we have to have fat, then we should eat nuts.  They can lower LDL by 8 to 12 percent.  Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans are the most beneficial.

At the very minimum, prisons should be able help inmates eat right and have moderation in all things especially as moderation pertains to any kind of bingeing.  Too much eating, too much work, too much play, too much sex, too much anything that causes a life to become unbalanced is bad, but doing anyone thing as part of a binge is really hard on ones body.  Addiction to anything has to be eliminated before any spiritual or forward progress can be made.

We need sunlight.  Sunlight heals and prevents many illnesses.  We all know how to protect ourselves from too much direct sun exposure and from being in the sun for too long a period of time.  But, we need to expose our bodies, lots of our body, to sunlight preferably in the morning or evening.  Moderation again is key.  And, exercise is just as important to a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a spiritual consciousness.

If we, and we includes inmates, do not feel worthy then without realizing it we feel unworthy of being healthy or of attracting the right people into our lives, etc. and we create an obstacle that will inhibit the flow of creative higher frequency energy into our daily life.  If any of us want to know if we really feel worthy all we have to do is observe ourselves and see if we eat too much of the wrong things, use drugs we do not need or drink too much alcohol, or we dress down, or walk or sit with poor posture, or we fail to exercise, or we treat others with a lack or respect, making judgments we should not be making, and the list goes on and on.

The clothing an inmate wears matters.  People in general are more physical when they wear blue jeans.  Places where young adults have gathered have found that when they excluded anybody wearing blue jeans, there was much less rowdiness.  Dress an inmate up and they behave better and they feel better about themselves.

Once inmates are properly divided, protected, nourished, medicated, and clothed I would imagine religion comes next.   But I would prefer that spiritual concepts replace religious concepts.  Our major religions have so much in common.   Prisons would be better served if religions’ controlling dogma could be left out as well as the interpretations that tend to divide us.  Instead, let’s present the spirit of the religions that are common to all religions.  I know fundamentalists are going to hate this but I wanted to say it anyway and stop there.

In summary, we must remember that inmates are released and some will integrate into our communities while others will remain isolated from the mainstream.  It is ridiculous to pay so much money to incarcerate an inmate and yet not spend enough or create the environment where most can evolve into better people.

Prisons need to restore and create pride and hope within inmates and to some extent help inmates learn skills.  Voters and get tough politicians have learned that it is costly to just jam more offenders into prisons for longer periods of time.  They have hopefully also learned that the benefits from those costs are both limited and counter productive.

More separation is needed.  Inmates and staff need to develop within themselves the four pillars of enlightenment:  Meditation, Spiritual awareness, meditation, and service.  And, most of all, neurofeedback needs to be the cornerstone of treatment programs.  Inmates that have been able to balance their brains and have picked up job skills should be released early.

A study known as The Scott-Kaiser study dealt with the most difficult type of addict currently in rehabilitation.  The 91 subjects were not volunteers.  They were mostly mandated for treatment by the courts.  All 91 participated in a typical corrections treatment program.  In this case it was one based on the Minnesota model, a 12-step oriented program supported by group, family, and individual counseling.  Forty-eight of these 91 subjects also received 40 to 50 neurofeedback sessions.  The 43 subjects that only received the 12 step based program was the control group and the remaining 48 subjects that also received the neurofeedback treatment was the experimental group.  The experimental group showed much more personality change than the controls. Follow-up at 24 months showed that the differences between the groups were even greater.

Steve Fahrion has gotten excellent results using neurofeedback in the Kansas prison system that has as hard-core a group of addicts as those in Los Angeles.  His clients were 500 addicted criminals (about equal numbers of alcoholics, marijuana and cocaine users). Again, the neurofeedback group was significantly less likely to fail than the controls. This was especially clear among those who had the worst record initially and among African-Americans particularly.

Two large studies in Texas are also very impressive in demonstrating the effectiveness of neurofeedback. One was done within the state corrections system by Alphonso Bermea.  A three-year follow-up data was strongly indicative of success using the neurofeedback treatment.

The second is a study with addicted street people (95% are crack cocaine addicts). Sixty-nine (69) people have completed treatment and have been followed for from six months to one and one-half years. Success is defined very stringently, through four criteria, all of which must be met:

Not on drugs (verified though random UA)

Not homeless

Not unemployed (at work or in school)

Not arrested.

When they entered treatment none of these men were employed or had a home. All were on drugs or alcohol and most had lengthy police records. The results have been overwhelming positive. Preliminary results show that 83% of clients were successful in meeting all four criteria. The project received a $3 million grant from the Houston Endowment to fund it for three more years.

Our success in life is associated with how well our brain works.  Our personalities and behaviors are rooted in how well our brains work.  Our environment and upbringing do not directly control our success in life.  This is a paradigm shift in thinking.  Inmates that take their medications in a structured prison setting often behave but misbehave when released and they stop taking their medications.  Pulling someone out of their neighborhoods and giving them behavioral drugs does not change the brain.

Prescott, Arizona Yavapai County (via Brain State Technologies).  Probationer’s average age was 33 years with an average of seven arrests. Arrests were for possession of illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia, petty theft, disturbing the peace, assault, and other miscellaneous crimes. All probationers were drug addicts.  Generally, probationers completed about 24 sessions over a three month period.
Three Month Results — All probationers were drug-free based both on their testimonies and on random urine analysis. The success rate was 100% — unheard of with methamphetamine addicts. Additionally, all probationers were arrest-free and all were engaged in gainful employment. Additionally, 40% of the probationers had enhanced their employment status.

Nine Month Results — At the end nine months – six months following the trial – the probationers were queried to determine their status. At this point, an 83% success rate was achieved. Although there had been no arrests of the trial participants, two were known to have used drugs in the six months following the trial period. However, for those who were successful, 40% of the probationers achieved additional advancement in their fields of employment.