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MDDA-BOSTON LECTURE SERIES

VISION AS A PATHWAY IN THE TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION
Highlights of a Lecture by Frederick Schiffer, M.D.
Private Practice in Newton, MA
(Dr. Schiffer's work with a glasses-like optical device was recently featured on the ABC News program 20/20)
Wednesday, September 22, 1999

Dr. Schiffer’s lecture focused on his research into how emotional problems, traumatic experiences, etc. vary depending on whether they are housed in either the left or right brain. The common perception is that the left brain is where the logic and sequencing, language, and similar forms of intelligence are housed. Conversely, poetry, images, and similar forms of thought and memory are thought to reside in the right brain.

Both of our eyes have both left and right fields of vision. The left field of vision goes to the right brain while the right field of vision goes to the left brain. Dr. Schiffer’s work involves having people wear special glasses that focus vision on either the right or left brain. By blocking out one field or another, the glasses put one or the other brain in charge. He can then see the responses of each side of the brain, see what its perceptions are, and then focus on correcting mistaken ideas on the troubled side. About 60 to 70 percent of trauma patients respond from the left side, while about the same number of depressed folks respond from the right side.

Dr. Schiffer used examples such as a traumatized veteran seeing a plant as a jungle with the glasses on one side, and then as a nice office decoration with them on the other. He also pointed out wide differences in peoples’ reported self-esteem when wearing the glasses. Patients might wear these glasses for from ten minutes to a whole therapy session and even outside therapy.

Dr. Schiffer found that about 25 percent of people have intense responses to his approach while another 25 percent have mild responses. About 50 percent have no response. In general people with trauma or severe depression tend to respond the best. Dr. Schiffer made no grand claims for his approach - he likened it to Prozac of Klonapin in that it does not resolve the problem but can reduce symptoms.

You can order an audio tape of this lecture by calling 617-855-2795.

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Last Update: November 25, 2005

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