Recognize the value of noninvasive imaging techniques

Imagine the excitement of seeing "Brain Imaging" on the front of the March Monitor. Finally, APA is writing about quantitative electroencephalograms and the types of work that is being done by thousands of psychologists in the neurofeedback world.

"From the research lab to the operating room" informed us about implanting electrodes on the surface of the brain to pinpoint where to surgically remove parts of the brain to correct the disorder from which the client was suffering. The instrument discussed is fMRI. Perhaps I have not been keeping up with the areas of scope of practice for psychologists but this falls under medical procedures and few psychologists can afford an fMRI machine in their private office. Yes, many psychologists work with fMRIs in hospital settings, still it is a small number compared to the number of psychologists/neurofeedback therapists in the United States.

It is time APA and the Monitor recognize the value of the thousands of psychologists around the world who use noninvasive imaging techniques and treatments/training to reduce/eliminate epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, depression, ADHD and a host of other disorders. As you probably know, early on neurofeedback was studied and researched in psychology laboratories and is based on the principles of operant conditioning. Perhaps you could see to having an edition that looks at brain imaging that employs the techniques that psychologists use and the training that they employ guided by those images and interpretations that are against normative databases.

Merlyn Hurd, PhD
New York, N.Y.

Let's do more research like this

Nick Joyce's March "Time Capsule" article on psychological assessments of Nazis is a good example of highly significant psychological research. It is the kind of work that makes me proud to be a psychologist. I hope we will be able to conduct similar research with the architects of the invasion of Iraq, which, according research published in The Lancet in 2006, resulted in an estimated 655,000 deaths in the first 43 months after it began.

Phil Zimbardo's book, "The Lucifer Effect," suggests where we might start: George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet. Justin Frank's book "Bush on the Couch" is a very good beginning, but relies completely on publicly available biographical information. Direct psychological assessments would be an extremely valuable extension of the work of Zimbardo and of Frank.

John C. Rhead, PhD
Columbia, Md

In reading the March Monitor, I was struck by two articles appearing in close proximity to one another. The first, "More shocking results: New research replicates Milgram's findings" and the second, "In search of the Nazi personality."

Is not the former a partial explanation for some of the issues in the latter?

Marc Kashinsky, PhD
Palm Desert, Calif

'Reductionist philosophy'

Before extolling the mechanical altering of brain functioning for such psychological difficulties as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder ("A Pacemaker for your Brain," March Monitor), problems that have been well understood for decades in terms of psychodynamics and ego psychology, one might reflect on the profound damage caused thousands of people by other previously celebrated physical "breakthroughs" (ECT, psychosurgery). The reductionistic philosophy promulgated by this and other Monitor articles merely advances psychology along the same road toward irrelevance and professional depression that psychiatry currently travels.

Stanley Goldstein, PhD
Middletown, N.Y.

Psychologists as jurors

I read with interest the January "Judicial Notebook" regarding jury selection. Of particular interest to me as a three-times rejected juror is the consideration of the peremptory challenge system. Following my latest strike from a jury panel, I asked the deputy in the jury room if psychologists were ever seated on a jury panel. The deputy's reply was, "No, never, because the lawyers don't know what psychologists might say." Is this because psychologists, as a rule, are skilled at "non-reaction," considered to have some arcane knowledge, or stereotyped as too liberal and "bleeding heart"? Whatever the thinking is, I am wondering if others have experienced this.

Diane K. Zimmerman, EdD
Fayetteville, N.C.


Please send letters to Sara Martin, Monitor editor, at the APA address. Letters should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for clarity or space.