Letters

Asthma research

THE STATEMENT that "hypnosis shows promise in improving 'quality of life, but not pulmonary function'" in the September article "Psychological aspects of asthma: 10 years of research" was somewhat surprising. A brief check of my hypnosis library disclosed a considerable number of reports, not only of pulmonary improvement but indeed cure of asthma by use of hypnosis techniques.

In one of these, Kroger, in the second edition of his book, Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, (1977, p. 301), cites a report of "...the complete cure of 40 cases of asthma by eliciting the 'causative' factors, emotional or environmental." He says that other researchers agree and cites pediatrician La Scola's conclusion that, "The asthmatic child responds most dramatically to the hypnotic approach and the cure is so gratifying that it seems incredible for any other method of treatment ever to be considered." La Scola's technique is detailed in Cheek & LeCron's Clinical Hypnotherapy, (1968, p. 203- 209).

It appears that the researchers didn't go back far enough in their literature review to capture very important data on their topic.

MARTIN REISER, EDD
Los Angeles

IT WAS GRATIFYING TO SEE that our review of research on the psychology of asthma (JCCP, Vol. 70, No. 3) was publicized in the APA Monitor . I do, however, need to make an important correction. A quote in that article was taken out of context: i.e., that biofeedback produces "...effects similar to those of relaxation: small but consistent asthma improvement over time, only rarely of clinical significance."

This applies only to biofeedback training of the skeletal muscles. We also reported that biofeedback training to increase the amplitude of heart rate variability may have very large and clinically very significant effects. We recently have done several studies (preliminary work published, but with our more convincing data still in the manuscript-preparation stage) showing these effects very convincingly. We do not know whether this results from a retraining of the autonomic or immune systems, or from regular practice in slow deep breathing. Further research is continuing.

PAUL LEHRER, PHD
President, Association for Applied Psychophysiology and
Biofeedback

Psychology and education

I HOPE DRS. STERNBERG AND Lyon's article (July/August) "Making a difference to education: Will psychology pass up the chance?" will move the critical agenda of children's education into the forefront of psychology. The long-standing marginalizing of school psychology is de facto neglect of children. Many of us in school psychology have struggled to bring psychological and education research into practice to ensure our children's academic, social-emotional and behavioral success. Sadly, we and public schools have been perceived as the stepchildren of professional psychology, and undeserving of resources required to carry out effective field research and to train, with fidelity, teachers and parents to implement proven practices.

We need a stronger emphasis on applied, field research, and more funding to replicate studies addressing the multiple variations among child and school (natural setting) variables. This requires a strong paradigm shift, true partnerships between researchers, university departments, personnel preparation programs and professionals in our schools. It requires much stronger financial and policy support for applied research in education, school psychology and educational psychology.

Together we must move research into practice and help educators rid our schools of failed practices. There are more than 30,000 school psychologists working in our nation's schools. Most are eager to support, to use, to assist in developing and to train, Monitor and measure proven practices to maximize positive educational outcomes for our nation's children. Given respect and support they can be the researcher's allies in successful educational reform. This is a shared responsibility requiring long missing inter-profession respect. I believe being marginalized results in negative outcomes for all.

KEVIN P. DWYER
President of NASP 1999- 2000

I WAS DISAPPOINTED BY PHILIP Zimbardo's "President's column" in which he offered reflections on 9/11 and its aftermath. I, too, am proud of the efforts made by psychologists to understand the impact of terrorism and also of the way the American people coalesced around President Bush's inspiring leadership.

However, I believe Dr. Zimbardo may have been unduly critical when he alluded to residual "fears from continual government warnings that "violate[d] all psychological principles of effective alarm." Do we really have sufficient experience and data to what is necessarily effective in issuing warnings regarding terrorist mass murder?

Further, his question, "Are we mindlessly willing to sacrifice hard-won freedoms for illusions of security imposed by excessive government restrictions" was presumptuous. I believe that these restrictions are not excessive given the nature of the threat that confronts us, nor do they result in "illusory" security when, say, a sleeper cell is uncovered. I have not "mindlessly"come to this conclusion, and point to the temporary restrictions in time of war imposed by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (who did not have Al Qaeda sleeper cells in their midst) as historical precedents.

Lastly, the commentary regarding corporate greed seemed misplaced. Certainly, corporate greed is a travesty, but this is a problem that existed long before last September, and the comment "we deserve better from those who lead us, or else they are no better than the terrorists we defiantly oppose" is regrettable hyperbole.

GARY W. ELLIOTT, PHD
Mishawaka, Ind.