Definitions1 of Biofeedback
and Applied Psychophysiology
NANCY M. SCHWARTZ
MARK S. SCHWARTZ
The history of biofeedback has witnessed many definitions. Olson (1987, 1995) noted 10 definitions starting from 1971 (Basmajian, 1979; Birk, 1973; Brown, 1977; Gaarder & Montgomery, 1977; Green & Green, 1977; Hassett, 1978; Kamiya, 1971; Ray, Raczynski, Rogers, & Kimball, 1979; G. E. Schwartz & Beatty, 1977; M. S. Schwartz & Fehmi, 1982). Olson (1995) divided those definitions into "operational" definitions (emphasizing the processes or procedures involved), "teleological" definitions (stressing the aims or objectives of biofeedback), and "combined" definitions (synthesizing elements of both). Olson (1995) noted that the theoretical models influencing past definitions differed in emphasis.
Different opinions exist about whether or not the specific feedback signals as such result in changes. However, even the critics of biofeedback agree that many of the feedback procedures are part of something that works. The disagreement focuses on the ingredients and process that result in changed outcomes.
The debate between Furedy (1987) and Shellenberger and Green (1987) was an invigorating exchange. Attempts to moderate and create perspective were valuable and appreciated by many (Rosenfeld, 1987). Practitioners, students, and critics of biofeedback should be familiar with these issues and the references.
In writing this chapter, we have also derived guidance from Middaugh (1990), who focused on patient selection, treatment protocol selection, instrumentation, and patient–therapist interactions, in combination with other techniques. This fits well with the aptitude × treatment interaction (ATI) model (Holloway & Rogers, 1988; Dance & Neufeld, 1988) of therapy effectiveness. This interaction of the person and treatment often accounts for the outcome. It is similar to the still vibrant idea from Paul (1966): Briefly, treatments work for selected patients in selected conditions.