I am sitting at home with two electrodes attached to my earlobes. Electric currents are passing into my brain and down my spinal column. I feel like Frankenstein’s monster.
To the casual observer, it might appear that I am being subjected to torture. In fact, I am attempting to quell my predisposition to anxiety, which I have managed to elevate beyond the realms of mere psychological symptom into a complete lifestyle. Electricity, it seems, could be the answer – the new Valium, if you will.
The machine is called Alpha-Stim SCS. It is a small device with two wires that clip on to your ears. It uses “cranial electrotherapy stimulation” – 50-100 microamps of electricity (a microamp is a millionth of an amp) – to increase alpha brain waves. These waves occur at the frequency of about 8-12 cycles per second, or hertz, compared with the “normal”, or beta, state of 13-25 hertz, which is the state in which most of us spend our working days. Alpha waves induce relaxed, yet alert, states that, it is claimed, calm the central nervous system.