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April 14, 1975

Biofeedback as a Medical Treatment

Author Affiliations

If you wish to suggest a topic or write an answer for this feature, write to William H. Crosby, MD, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, La Jolla, CA, 92037.

JAMA. 1975;232(2):179-180. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03250020053030

FOLLOWING a recent meeting of the Biofeedback Research Society, one optimistic writer reported in the popular press that "biofeedback provides those suffering from functional disorders of all types with a viable alternative to the combination of drugs and surgery offered by traditional Western medicine." That statement-and dozens more like it—reflect the furor therapeuticus that has arisen of late about a field of research whose clinical applications are still uncertain, but that has raised dazzling prospects for healing, among professionals and laymen alike.

The term "feedback" was coined by mathematician Norbert Weiner to mean "a method of controlling the system by reinstating into it the results of its past performance." In 1969, at the first meeting of the Biofeedback Research Society, the term was given its physiological context, referring to any technique using instrumentation intended to give a person immediate and continuing signals of changes in a bodily function of which