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Systematic Desensitization

January 21, 2008

Today we met with the Neuro-Psychologist for the second time. The first time she promised to have a word with the operator of the fMRI system that we met during the fMRI trial run and this time she gave us some feedback of that chat. She wanted to focus however on the MEG and MRI that are planned for Wednesday. I explained my fear for the MEG in detail and the lack of trust and confidence in the MEG operator. Talking and thinking about the MEG is not as hard as talking and thinking about the fMRI. I’m quite certain that I will have feelings of discomfort and fear during the MEG and MRI but I’m also rather sure that I will be able to endure these.

I believe that the Neuro-Psychologist was trying to perform a concise version of a procedure called “Systematic Desensitization” where a patient is asked to recall events that cause anxiety in imagination, and then a relaxation technique is used to dissipate the anxiety. With sufficient repetition through practice, the imagined event loses its anxiety-provoking power. At the end of training, when you actually face the real event, you will find that it too, just like the imagined event, has lost its power to make you anxious.

I think that I have used a crude version of this technique myself before and during the trial fMRI and I have decided that it makes sense to try it again. According to http://www.guidetopsychology.com/sysden.htm  this process can also be self administered. It just takes confidence, honesty and time I guess.  I don’t have much time until the formal fMRI on the 1st of February and I don’t want to postpone the fMRI as the Neuro-Psychologist suggested. It is good to know that I have that option but no thanks. I super motivated to do whatever it takes to get the tumor out of my head although this fMRI may prove to be too much. Is my desire to live strong enough to assemble all power to control my claustrophobia? I think that this is the key issue. An operator that I can trust, my wife sitting next to me and methods and procedures are important but not key.

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