Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ron Houben Update

There is some news in the case of Ron Houben, the Belgian man who was thought to be in a vegetative state for 23 years but who appears to have had almost normal brain activity the entire time.

Recall from my posts here and then here that a speech therapist supposedly broke through to Houben using the discredited technique of Facilitated Communication. (For more on FC, click here.)

Dr. Steven Laureys, Houben’s neurologist, initially seemed to buy into the claims of the speech therapist but promised a more thorough investigation. Now, Spiegel Online is reporting that…

Laureys has now carried out those tests, and his results hold that it wasn’t Houben doing the writing after all. The tests determined that he doesn’t have enough strength and muscle control in his right arm to operate the keyboard. In her effort to help the patient express himself, it would seem that the speech therapist had unwittingly assumed control…

In the more recent test, Houben was shown or told a series of 15 objects and words, without a speech therapist being present. Afterward, he was supposed to type the correct word — but he didn’t succeed a single time.

There is no lack of research on the subject of FC. It has been unequivocally shown that all communication is done unconsciously by the facilitator, a phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect. (For more on the ideomotor effect, click here .)

It's a crazy dol'gang world right?

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