In the simplest terms, biofeedback is the technique of concentrating really hard on an illness and telling it to go away. More specifically, practitioners believe that it is possible to consciously command functions in our body that are usually out of our control, like heart rate. It's the same kind of thing that yogis are doing when they claim to be able to stop their hearts in meditation.
Yogi, beg! Roll over! Play dead! Good yogi.
How It Sort of Works:
If that sounds like something somebody would tell you while wearing a tin foil hat, then you've passed the bullshit test. You can't gain command over the automatic functions of your body, because evolution saw no benefit in allowing you to stop your heart if you feel like it.
Now that we've said that, let's directly contradict ourselves by saying that biofeedback sessions do yield results. By participating in these pseudoscientific rituals, patients actually can reduce their heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension and other problems. But it's not magic. You're just relaxing.
When you tell a stressed person to calm down, odds are that she will panic more at being unable to calm down. But when you tell a person that she can physically control her heart rate, muscle tension and hand trembling by concentrating real hard and telling these body parts to stop being assholes, you give that person an illusion of control, the effect of which is that she stops worrying about it.
"STOP WORRYING ABOUT YOUR TERMINAL BRAIN CANCER."
Unfortunately, the technique's effectiveness relies upon you believing the magic explanation, and so, now that we have explained how it really works, it probably won't anymore. You're welcome!
Pauli Poisuo completely disregards all health advice at Year of the Fat Bastard. You can read more of his Cracked articles here.
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