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annehart

Robots as creative writers, wordsmiths, cybertherapists, and companions



Do you like the idea of robots as writers? Check out the You Tube video presentation, "Automated Insights @ Google Demo Day."

 

Why do robots "fall apart" when asked to act human in the sense of walking, talking, recognizing familiar objects? You may wish to check out a June 8, 2014 article, "Soon, robots to behave as humans?"

 

The answer is because they're programmed that way, just as a cartoon character in a movie is drawn that way and given a personality by pen or software. Already, the media has labeled robots as neurotic when they fail to act more human, as if the label will cause a rise in a robot when it comes to rapport with a human.

 

One solution lies in software algorithms that can mimic chemicals in the brain of a rodent. Some news headlines blare, "Neurotic Robots Acting Human," for example.

What if a robot could behave like a human?

Scientists at University of California, Irvine are working on a "neurotic" robot that can copy human behavior. "We are trying to make the robot brain more like human brain," explains lead researcher Jeffrey L. Krichmar, a professor of cognitive science at University of California, Irvine. The research team is making a robot act like a mouse in a cage.

 

You may wish to see, the YouTube video on reverse engineering the brain, "Jeffrey Krichmar on Understanding Cognition through Building Brain-Inspired Robots." A rodent is being used to make the robot brain act more human, or could that be, more rat-like when brain chemical results are re-created with mathematical algorithms? (See, "The Cognitive Anteater Robotics Laboratory (CARL) at the University of California, Irvine. IEEE Intelligent Informatics Bulletin.") Or check out Krichmar's book, on Amazon.com, Neuromorphic and Brain-Based Robots.

 

One of the Grand Challenges posed by the National Academy of Engineering is to reverse-engineer the brain

 

In another recent article, "Neurotic Robots Act More Human," this one from Discovery News, robots that don't act too human are given the label of a mental disorder and called neurotic, at least in the news. But if robots are so neurotic (a human term, not a robotic description), why are robots being groomed to be soldiers? (See Robot Soldiers Are Coming.) The U.S. Army is considering replacing some men and women with robots. Play Video.

 

You might also take a look at the PJ Media article, "Well, that makes sense: Neurotic Robots Act More Human." But for more of a scientific approach, there's a PDF file with a serious tone, "Modeling individual differences in socioeconomic game playing."

 

Why the sudden interest in what's happening in the field of robotics is due to a group of the world's top researchers in this field presenting several works-in-progress at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation recently in Hong Kong

 

The 2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, Hong Kong, China, from May 31 to June 5, 2014. The conference theme is Robotics and Automation: Technologies Enabling New Economic Growth reflecting the growing spectrum and recent developments in robotics and automation around the world. You may wish to see, "The 2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation."

 

Robots are good at computing algorithms, and playing games such as chess. Robots can navigate and decide which are the best travel routes. And robots easily can solve math problems. The only problem is getting them to act more human and less neurotic. There are issues when robots are asked to walk, talk or recognize everyday objects. A special area of science and engineering is dedicated to studying neurobiological robotics.

 

Neurobiological robotics

 

The field of neurobiological robotics is about giving robots certain unique human or animal abilities that can be copied, turned into software, and replicated in order to make robots more efficient. You may wish to check out the site, "The Robot Takeover Is Coming."

 

Should robots be instilled with fear or caution? A search-and-rescue drone, for example, might stay put during foul weather instead of taking a risk to complete its mission. There might be other times that it might be better to build a robot that doesn’t care what dangers it might face.

 

Robots can help children with autism who respond to inanimate objects that in turn, respond to them

 

Robots can be used to help children, not just to make war or keep the peace through fear of drones with clones. For example Krichmar has developed “Carl’s Junior” a sensitive, therapeutic robot used at a nearby school to help with children on the autism spectrum who seem to respond well to an inanimate, yet responsive object.

 

One thing robots are made to be is inanimate at this point, and they can be programmed to be responsive. What do robots want? Most likely for now, they want eyes. For the present, robots don't have good enough sensors because without eyes to make micro-movements, giving robots sight becomes another project for college classrooms. For example, a researcher at Boston University is working on making robots see better. That research team is giving humanoid robots micro-movements. What robots want is to understand three-dimensional structure in their environment. You may wish to check out the site, "8 Tricky Tasks for Robots."

 

“We’re trying to make the robot brain more like human brain,” said Jeff Krichmar, professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. “The brain has incredibly flexibility and adaptability. If you look at any artificial system, it’s far more brittle than biology.” You may wish to check out the article, "Well, that makes sense: Neurotic Robots Act More Human." You also may wish to see the June 6, 2014 article, "11 Insane Inventions You Didn't Know Existed."

 

A rat is used as a model for the robot's brain

 

Krichmar’s team uses a rodent model and varying levels of dopamine and serotonin, the two brain hormones that control pleasure centers and well-being. The effects of the chemicals on the rodent are then replicated in the robot’s software, Krichmar explained, according to the article. Also see, " "Soon, robots to behave as humans?"

Math equations are used to mimic how chemicals work in the brain. It's all about mathematical models of the brain of a rat. Scientists call that the cognitive system. To make the robot work, software is put in so that the software becomes the robot's controller. The researchers' findings were presented at the "IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation" in Hong Kong recently.

 

To the average reader, numerous news articles on the presentations boil down the research to the fact that scientists at University of California, Irvine are working on a "neurotic" robot that can copy human behavior. But no human is used in the research...just a rodent. That's what happens when the effects of the chemicals on the rodent are then replicated in the robot's software. But is such news inspiring most kids to get high grades in their beginning algebra classes?

 

One of the Grand Challenges posed by the National Academy of Engineering is to reverse-engineer the brain

 

Jeffrey Krichmar, whose research interests include neurobotics and embodied cognition, is an Associate Professor in both the Department of Cognitive Sciences and the Department of Computer Science at UCI. His group is attempting to meet the Academy's challenge by building detailed models of the brain that control the behavior of autonomous robots.

 

This approach provides a powerful tool for understanding brain and cognitive function, and may provide the groundwork for the development of intelligent machines that follow neurobiological rather than computational principles. What will the next invention be when it comes to robots getting smarter and more useful? Perhaps it's all about understanding cognition by reverse engineering the brain.

 

Robots may need to include parental controls

 

Older adults' fears that companion robots will negatively affect young people may create design challenges for developers hoping to build robots for older users, according to Penn State researchers. Companion robots provide emotional support for users and interact with them as they, for example, play a game, or watch a movie.

 

Older adults reported in a study that while they were not likely to become physically and emotionally dependent on robots, they worried that young people might become too dependent on them, says T. Franklin Waddell, according to the April 30, 2014 news release, "Robots may need to include parental controls." Waddell is a doctoral candidate in mass communications. Those surveyed also indicated that although they were not worried about being negatively affected by robots, the adults would still resist using the devices.

 

"We've seen this type of effect, which is usually referred to as a third-person effect, with different types of media, such as video games and television, but this is the first time we have seen the effect in robotics," says Waddell, according to the April 30, 2014 news release, Robots may need to include parental controls. "According to a third person effect, a person says they are not as negatively affected by the media as other people."

The researchers, who presented their findings on April 30, 2014 at the Association for Computing Machinery's Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, said this effect could eventually lead to changes in behavior.

 

For instance, people who believe video games harm young people may tend to avoid the games themselves. Likewise, older adults who believe that companion robots could harm young people may tend to avoid robots.

 

To compensate for the effect, robot designers may need to consider adding controls that will help adults monitor the use of robots by children, says Waddell, according to the news release. Waddell worked with S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, and Eun Hwa Jung, a doctoral candidate in mass communications.

 

"Robot designers and developers look at older adults as a central user base for companion robots," says Waddell, according to the news release. "This effect is something they should consider when designing the interface for the robots to make sure, for example, that the robot includes some type of parental controls."

 

Robots with parental controls may convince adults that they can own and use robots and still protect children from their fears that the devices might lead to laziness and dependency

 

The researchers studied two types of robots: companion robots and assistant robots, said Sundar. Assistant robots are devices that help with everyday tasks, such as vacuuming the floor or playing a CD, he says, while companion robots are more interactive.

 

This interactivity may be one reason that users tend to attach human-like emotions to companion robots, Waddell explains, according to the news release. "A companion robot provides the user with a source of friendship," said Waddell. "They might watch TV with the participant, provide emotional support, or complete an activity with the user."

 

Waddell observes that the participants did not seem to show the same level of apprehensions about assistance robots

 

Researchers asked 640 retirees over the age of 60 -- 53 percent female and 47 percent male -- about whether robots would have negative effects on themselves and on others. For instance, they asked the subjects whether robots would make them lazier and encourage them to interact less often with other people. They then asked similar questions about the effects of robots on young people.

 

When it comes to assistance in doing necessary chores, robots can be used to help those who are in need of assistance in basic living skills such as hygiene, dressing, preparing food, cleaning a room, opening doors, communicating, or other basic skills that improve the quality of life for those in need of assistance as well as caregivers in the family or in institutions.

 

The question is whether people welcome robots compared to guide dogs, live pets for therapy, and other ways to assist people. For example an exoskeleton can help people to walk who couldn't walk without the device. See, "Mind-controlled robotic suit to debut at World Cup 2014" or "The 2nd Gen Exoskeleton Robotic Suit | Military.com."

The Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology supported this study, which is part of an international research and development program between Penn State and the Industrial Academy Cooperation Foundation of Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea.

 

How you may be able to solve the issue when you really want a pet but have been told you're too frail (or old) to care for a dog is to consider robot assistance dogs and similar devices. If you live in an apartment that doesn't permit any pets or are not able to afford and/or care for a real dog but need an assistance device, one solution is the robotic assistance 'dog' or device.

 

For many seniors, there isn't anyone in their household to help them care for a live assistance or therapy dog. One solution is to buy an affordable robot assistance dog or other device that can be given the same commands that you give a service dog.

As seniors, you can work together to bring about affordable robot assistance devices or dogs. The emphasis would be on the devices being affordable and capable of doing everything a service dog will do as far as carrying out assistance commands because the device is programmed that way.

 

A robotic assistance dog or device doesn't need to be fed, groomed, have teeth brushed, or taken to the vet if you're too frail to care for a live assistance animal. To find an assistance robot, check out the sites, Robo-Dog Wants To Go Outside Now, and Bio-inspired Assistive Robotics: Service Dogs as a Model for Human Interaction and Mobile Manipulation.

 

Research is ongoing. It helps if a group of seniors gather together to research the devices in progress and give feedback to those involved in building assistance robots/service dogs for those who aren't able to care for or afford a highly trained, live assistance animal.

 

A trained assistance dog is not affordable by many seniors. And the waiting list is long for those older adults requesting trained service dogs for little cost. What seniors want are affordable robotic assistance 'dogs' or similar devices. More seniors could also be trained to research and build these devices, especially retired engineers and technicians interested in the subject of assistance robotics, not only for seniors, but for those with physical disabilities of all ages who need assistance devices (robots).

 

An assistance dog lasts only for its lifetime. If the dog is ill, you can't send it to a wheelchair manufacturer to exchange the parts. A robotic assistance dog may have interchangeable parts and can be repaired. More people, including some mechanically and electronically-inclined seniors, also can be trained to build these devices if they knew who to contact, for example retired computer programmers and engineers or technicians and mechanics.

 

Autonomous mobile robots with manipulation capabilities offer the potential to improve the quality of life for people with motor impairments. With over 250,000 people with spinal cord injuries and 3,000,000 stroke survivors in the US. The impact of affordable, robust assistive manipulation could be profound, according to studies mentioned in the abstract and article, "Bio-inspired Assistive Robotics: Service Dogs as a Model for Human Interaction and Mobile Manipulation." Check out the work being done at the Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines at Georgia Tech.

 

Robust robotic assistance wanted by many seniors that's affordable
 

The aging population creates a need for affordable, robust robotic assistance, since 20% of people in the US between 75 and 79 years of age have been shown to require assistance in activities of everyday living, and this percentage increases precipitously with age, with 50% of people over 85 years of age requiring assistance. Currently, assistance for motor impaired individuals is most often provided by a human caregiver and/or assistance dogs.

 

Service dogs have successfully provided assistance to thousands of motor-impaired people worldwide. As a step towards the creation of robots that provide comparable assistance, the researchers, according to their website, present a biologically inspired robot capable of obeying many of the same commands and exploiting the same environmental modifications as service dogs.

 

The robot responds to a subset of the 71 verbal commands listed in the service dog training manual used by Georgia Canines for Independence. In the researcher's implementation, the human directs the robot by giving a verbal command and illuminating a task-relevant location with an off-the-shelf green laser pointer.

 

If you live alone and are not physically able to care for a service dog, a robot service 'dog' or other shaped device can help
 

If you live alone and are too frail to care for a dog or cat, at least with a robot dog or other robot shape designed to lend assistance, you have friendship for life, no pet food or vet bills, and no shedding dog hair to clean daily. Your robot dog can be walked and programmed.

 

Researchers are working on robot dogs that can fetch and assist you to pick up items from the floor such as credit cards and keys, open refrigerators with a rope tied to the handle, turn on or off light switches, or bring you items you are not able to reach. Research continues on these robot dogs that do not need to be walked or fed or let out in the yard to do their business. To find out where seniors can find such robot dog assistance 'pets,' check out the site,

 

More important, you don't have to outlive your robot dog. And a robot dog that's not a toy can be programmed to do everything a real dog will do, including give you unconditional affection and loyalty. Supposedly, the dog was engineered and programmed that way. Need a repair? The peripheral parts may be interchangeable. Robots live forever, so they say.

 

If you want to adopt a dog from a rescue shelter, foster home, or city animal shelter, and many people in various places tell you that you're too old or too frail to care for a dog, you might look into owning a robot dog that's highly programmed to act like a real dog. An advanced robotic dog is not a toy.

 

Even when the robot 'dog' is for therapy rather than assistance, nursing home residents in one study loved those devices. Studies in past years have shown that in the eyes of older adults, there was no statistical difference between whether the real or robotic dog did a better job easing loneliness and fostering attachments when the older adults were in a nursing home environment, according to the news article, Robotic Dog Makes Nursing Home Residents Less Lonely. A reprint of this St. Louis University article also appeared in the Sacramento Bee early in July, 2010.

 

At least nursing home residents have reported that Robots for older adults are a growing health trend. See the site, robots are making a difference. If everyone thinks your too old to adopt a dog from a rescue or shelter, or you think you may be too frail to care for a dog, then a robot dog may be the answer for older people in Sacramento. At least robot dogs are being studied in nursing homes.

 

Do Sacramento women over age 70 tend to favor more affordable robot dogs for senior citizens? Some nursing homes report that lonely seniors prefer dogs to people.

When your own pet passes over the rainbow bridge, and you're too frail to properly care for a real dog, can a robot dog fill the loneliness that comes when you lose your pet of many years?

 

Wouldn't it be great if robot dogs were sent to war instead of putting real dogs in harm's way? Check out the December 1, 2010 Sacramento Bee article, Labradors, handlers train for war in Afghanistan. According to that article, the dogs are all pros, some champion retrievers, purchased for an average of $10,000 each, and trained and retrained to do one thing: find bombs in Afghanistan.

 

Wouldn't you rather see a robot dog do that job, a dog whose parts can be replaced as easily as interchangeable computer peripherals instead of real dogs, however well trained? Real dogs shouldn't have to go to war to sniff out bombs. Robot dogs can be trained to do the sniffing, or can they? A real dog can sniff out bedbugs or bombs. But why endanger a real dog? If scientists can create realistic robots, why not invent a robot whose sense of smell is superior to a dog's?

 

When a dog is important to you, but you're too old to bend down and give that large dog a bath, or you live too far from the veterinarian to walk and mobile vets are too expensive what do you do? Those who long for a wagging tail and a furry animal to pet may buy stuffed toy animals. But even furry toys also shed and collect dust mites. Some people are allergic to the fur on toys.

 

The robot dogs have no fur, but they wag their tails. Local and national media are exploring robot dogs for seniors and the medical studies with robot dogs in nursing homes. At any age, if you're looking for a robot dog, you can follow the media reports on news about robot dogs or check out the database at the electronic pets site, electronic pets.org. See the newspaper article, Robotic Dog Makes Nursing Home Residents Less Lonely.

 

Where can you buy a robot dog? Sony pulled the plug on its older version of AIBO that sold from 2004-2006 for close to $1,300, but what will the new AIBO look like when it comes out in the future? Yet local and national articles keep appearing in the media about how happy a group of senior citizens at a nursing home are upon seeing and petting the robot dog.

 

It comes from Japan and is called AIBO. That stands for Artificial Intelligence Robot. It's not a toy, it's a robot dog. It's name is similar to IBO, which in Japanese means a pal, a true companion. The robot has friendly dog emotions and dog instincts of the type you want to see. And you don't have to clean up after the dog. You train or program the dog by talking to it.

 

The robot dog develops into a mature, fun-loving dog friend as time passes. And the robot dog is a friend for your life. For further information, check out the robot dog's website, AIBO Life.org, where you can find your own relatively 'immortal' dog friend.

See the article, "Sony may be planning to release updated Sony AIBO Robo-dog." Here is a detailed review of the newly designed Sony AIBO robo-dog. Sony gave the AIBO a brand new paintjob and new technological features.

 

The latest Sony AIBO model will be able to interface wirelessly with both your PSP and PS3. You will also notice that the AIBO has a built in headcam that allows the robotic dog to use motion sensor technology and do facial recognitions.

 

Sony's AIBO will also be able to stream its point of view video over WiFi technology that connects to your computer system. For older adults who really need a robot dog when they are not able to care for a live dog, but need the companionship of a friend who doesn't disagree and who cuddles and is relatively ageless, will older adults who need this robot dog most be able to handle the programming or training with computers? Yes.

 

Even if you are not online or have never worked on a computer, Sony has made it so you can also control the functions of your AIBO whenever you want. All you have to do is turn on your remote control and it will trigger technology in the robotic dog. Most older people know how to press a remote control and watch TV. If so, they can master the robot dog companion.

 

The dog will be able to be controlled by the remote. With this step, using a remote control, you now can control the dog's movements. Also, you can use the robot dog as a guard dog. Just set the dog in front of your locked door for the evening.

The Sony AIBO robo-dog will "guard" your house.

 

The dog has a setting you can put the robotic dog on. It is going to use face recognition software to know when it should alert you of a potential intruder. Burglars would probably just ignore the robotic dog. But would it make criminals think twice about coming into your house, store, or junkyard?

 

Before you buy a robotic dog for the senior citizen in your life, it's not yet released by Sony. The information is being publicized about the new features on the robot dog right now to get a picture of what people are interested in as far as features they want in a robot dog.

 

The original AIBO didn't sell to as many senior citizens or anyone else as Sony would have wanted. But the new version will be coming out in the near future. Adjustments are being made. Will the dog be affordable?

 

The original AIBO was too expensive for the average senior citizen who wants a companion dog that doesn't get sick or need to be fed, but still acts just like a real dog. If the price is low enough, a lot of people will buy a robot dog. If you live in an apartment that doesn't allow pets, AIBO is great. If the price comes out too high this time around, the people who need a robot dog most won't be able to afford it.

 

The best bet to sell a lot of AIBO robot dogs is to aim at families that have older adults who can no longer care for a living pet, usually because they can't bend down to feed or wash the dog or are unable to take the dog for healthcare or on long walks, even with a wheelchair. With a robot dog, it's not alive, but it will have the emotions of a friendly dog. Keep posted on the robot dog also at the gamespot.com.

 

According to Wikipedia, the original designs are part of the permanent collections of MOMA and the Smithsonian Institution. The design won SONY and artist Sorayama the highest design award that may be conferred by Japan.

 

On January 26, 2006 Sony announced that it would discontinue AIBO and several other products as of March, 2006 in Sony's effort to make the company more profitable. It will also stop development of the QRIO robot. AIBO will still be supported until 2013 (ERS7 model support breakdown), however, and AIBO technology will continue to be developed for use in other consumer products. [1] [2]

 

You Can Still Attend the Annual AIBO Conventions

 

The International AIBO Convention takes place every year at Sony Robotics Tower in the Shinjuku prefecture. The first convention took place in 1999, on May 15. It was then set to May 2 to May 4. The 2009 convention, being in its tenth year, set attendance records.

 

The convention usually features AIBO advertisements, free posters, free accessories, freeware/open-source downloads, an acoustic performance from best friends Mark Linn-Baker and Larry Sweeney, and "AIBO Shows." At these conventions you can find out when the latest robot dog will be appearing in public.

 

AIBO's personality develops by interacting with people and each AIBO grows in a different way, based on its individual experiences. AIBO has instincts to look for its toys, to satisfy curiosity, to play with its owner, to self charge when its battery is low and to wake up when its had enough sleep or been scheduled to do so.

 

If only the new model would be covered more in the media. Once in a while, you see in newspapers a large photo of a group of seniors in a nursing home surrounding the robot dog. But what readers would like to see is when the latest model will be coming out and how much will it cost.

 

Why is the cost double that of a live dog? As far as media and culture, basically, you have robot companions in science fiction since the days of "Twilight Zone." In reality, the people needing a robot companion such as a dog are those who usually find themselves invisible in society, older people with little energy who enjoy petting therapy dogs.

 

Just like real dogs, robot dogs provide pet therapy. And people who usually say they are afraid of aggressive dogs or constant barking can enjoy the fair weather side of dog emotions without the veterinary and food costs over a lifetime.

 

The secret life of robot dogs is that they don't grow old and go away. They just interchange parts. That's what's covered in the media, that love can exist between a robot animal and a human, basically, because there's no separation anxiety. If you need a robot dog now for kids between the ages of 4 and 8 or so, Amazon.com sells online Wrex the Robotic Dog. It's not the same as the advanced version for adults of AIBO, but kids like it.

 

Robotic animals are powerful prescriptions for the lonely older adult. In one St Louis, MO study, to test whether residents connected better with Sparky or Aibo, researchers divided a total of 38 nursing home residents into three groups. All were asked questions to assess their level of loneliness. See the articles based on the studies, Lonely seniors prefer dogs to people, and Dogs help canine-loving nursing home residents feel less lonely.

 

One group saw Sparky once a week for 30 minutes, another group had similar visits with Aibo, and a control group saw neither furry nor mechanical critter, according to the article, Robotic Dog Makes Nursing Home Residents Less Lonely. During visits in the St. Louis study, researchers brought real dog, Sparky or robot dog, Aibo into a resident's room and placed the pet companion near the resident. Both pets interacted with residents -- wagging their tails and responding to the people they visited.

 

After seven weeks, all residents were asked questions about how lonely they felt and how attached they were to Sparky or Aibo. The residents who received visits from real and artificial pooches felt less lonely and more attached to their canine attention-givers than those who got visits from neither.

 

There was no statistical difference between whether the real or robotic dog did a better job easing loneliness and fostering attachments. So, for your own health benefits, ask whether you need a robot dog, and choose one that works just like a real dog as far as emotions and trainable instincts. The only pleasure missing would be watching the dog wolf down favorite foods.

 

For feeding time, you'll need a live dog. One advantage of robot dogs is they don't eat or eliminate. Someday robot dogs will be alive, and that's why science fiction usually becomes techno-fact eventually. It's media creating culture, science fiction creating reality in due time. Whenever a person is lonely and needs a dog companion, now there's a choice: living or robotic dogs. It's all in the dog's emotions.

 

You also may wish to see these articles, "Robot Reveals Inner Workings of Brain Cells," "Could We Trust Killer Robots?" And check out, "Lonely Older Women Cherish Robot Dogs."

 

Speaking of seniors and robot dogs:

 

Do women over age 75 tend to favor more affordable robot dogs for senior citizens? Some nursing homes report that lonely seniors prefer dogs to people.

 

When your own pet passes over the rainbow bridge, and you're too frail to properly care for a real dog, can a robot dog fill the loneliness that comes when you lose your pet of many years?

 

Studies have shown that in the eyes of older adults, there was no statistical difference between whether the real or robotic dog did a better job easing loneliness and fostering attachments, according to the news article, Robotic Dog Makes Nursing Home Residents Less Lonely. A reprint of this St. Louis University article also appeared in the Sacramento Bee early in July, 2010.

 

Wouldn't it be great if robot dogs were sent to war instead of putting real dogs in harm's way? Check out the December 1, 2010 Sacramento Bee article, Labradors, handlers train for war in Afghanistan. According to that article, the dogs are all pros, some champion retrievers, purchased for an average of $10,000 each, and trained and retrained to do one thing: find bombs in Afghanistan.

 

Wouldn't you rather see a robot dog do that job, a dog whose parts can be replaced as easily as interchangeable computer peripherals instead of real dogs, however well trained? Real dogs shouldn't have to go to war to sniff out bombs. Robot dogs can be trained to do the sniffing, or can they? A real dog can sniff out bedbugs or bombs. But why endanger a real dog? If scientists can create realistic robots, why not invent a robot whose sense of smell is superior to a dog's?

 

When a dog is important to you, but you're too old to bend down and give that large dog a bath, or you live too far from the veterinarian to walk and mobile vets are too expensive what do you do? Those who long for a wagging tail and a furry animal to pet may buy stuffed toy animals. But even furry toys also shed and collect dust mites. Some people are allergic to the fur on toys.

 

The robot dogs have no fur, but they wag their tails. Local and national media are exploring robot dogs for seniors and the medical studies with robot dogs in nursing homes. At any age, if you're looking for a robot dog, you can follow the media reports on news about robot dogs or check out the database at the electronic pets site, electronic pets.org. See the newspaper article, Robotic Dog Makes Nursing Home Residents Less Lonely.

 
Why is the cost of a robot dog double that of a live dog? As far as media and culture, basically, you have robot companions in science fiction since the days of "Twilight Zone." In reality, the people needing a robot companion such as a dog are those who usually find themselves invisible in society, older people with little energy who enjoy petting therapy dogs.

 

Just like real dogs, robot dogs provide pet therapy. And people who usually say they are afraid of aggressive dogs or constant barking can enjoy the fair weather side of dog emotions without the veterinary and food costs over a lifetime.

 

The secret life of robot dogs is that they don't grow old and go away. They just interchange parts.

 

That's what's covered in the media, that love can exist between a robot animal and a human, basically, because there's no separation anxiety. If you need a robot dog now for kids between the ages of 4 and 8 or so, Amazon.com sells online Wrex the Robotic Dog. It's not the same as the advanced version for adults of AIBO, but kids like it.

 

Robotic animals are powerful prescriptions for the lonely older adult. In one St Louis, MO study, to test whether residents connected better with Sparky or Aibo, researchers divided a total of 38 nursing home residents into three groups. All were asked questions to assess their level of loneliness. See the articles based on the studies, Lonely seniors prefer dogs to people, and Dogs help canine-loving nursing home residents feel less lonely.

 

One group saw Sparky once a week for 30 minutes, another group had similar visits with Aibo, and a control group saw neither furry nor mechanical critter, according to the article, Robotic Dog Makes Nursing Home Residents Less Lonely. During visits in the St. Louis study, researchers brought real dog, Sparky or robot dog, Aibo into a resident's room and placed the pet companion near the resident. Both pets interacted with residents -- wagging their tails and responding to the people they visited.

 

After seven weeks, all residents were asked questions about how lonely they felt and how attached they were to Sparky or Aibo. The residents who received visits from real and artificial pooches felt less lonely and more attached to their canine attention-givers than those who got visits from neither.

 

There was no statistical difference between whether the real or robotic dog did a better job easing loneliness and fostering attachments. So, for your own health benefits, ask whether you need a robot dog, and choose one that works just like a real dog as far as emotions and trainable instincts. The only pleasure missing would be watching the dog wolf down favorite foods.

 

For feeding time, you'll need a live dog. One advantage of robot dogs is they don't eat or eliminate. Someday robot dogs will be alive, and that's why science fiction usually becomes techno-fact eventually. It's media creating culture, science fiction creating reality in due time. Whenever a person is lonely and needs a dog companion, now there's a choice: living or robotic dogs. It's all in the dog's emotions.

 

Can robots become cybertherapists? Or would poets and/or poetry therapists make better 'matches' in this occupation?

 

Need a simulated ear in the media to listen objectively to you? Cybertherapy as a part of telemedicine may be used to desensitize people to how the media uses free speech to explore culture in Sacramento. Whether you prefer mind-body-spirit approaches such as mindfulness in media in Sacramento publications or mainstream news, people may fear or embrace the side effects of cybertherapy in different ways.
 

How cybertherapy can better help people with social anxiety is by providing a listening ear that will not object to your free speech, emotions, or your logic. Cybertherapy also is being used to help autistic children.

 

Virtual reality in the media used as therapy

 

One approach is to look at virtual reality in media and suffer cybersickness and anxiety during simulated motion. On the other hand, you can use cybertherapy as a 'robotic' virtual simulated ear to hear what you have to say, letting you use free speech uncensored by another person's view.

 

With cybertherapy you are not perceived according to another person's past experiences. Instead, you have a virtual ear that listens to your life story experiences or your cause, goals, and missions. With cybertherapy, you have someone to tell your dreams and hopes and wishes to without having to defend your choices.

 

If you check out the November 22, 2010 NY Times article by Benedict Carey, published in the November 23, 2010 print edition of the Sacramento Bee, "Cybertherapy lends gentle, simulated ear," you can get a handle on what it's like experiencing situations where you know the worst can't happen. It all depends on how the cybertherapy impacts you.

 

Does it help your anxieties, release you from burdens, show you how to make an impact on others in social situations, give you the attention you would like, or help you understand why you feel or react as you do? Does cybertherapy desensitize you?

 

You may wish to check out the site of the Institute for Creative Technologies at USC. The ICT works collaboratively with computer scientists, entertainment and game development industries to advance the state of immersive training simulation. How can cybertherapy help people?

 

Austistic children helped by cybertherapy to talk about themselves in UC Davis research

In the Sacramento-Davis area, there's a "continuing study at University of California, Davis where researchers are trying to improve high-functioning autistic children's ability to think and talk about themselves while paying attention to multiple peers," according to the November 23, 2010 NY Times article.

 

The University of California Davis researched how cybertherapy can better help people with social anxiety. One other reason for this type of cybertherapy research at UC Davis is for people with social anxiety to interact with a virtual employer, strangers, or party goers to help the anxious feel more comfortable in social situations. The issue that some individuals may be concerned with is whether side effects from cybertherapy are lasting and in what ways.

 

People confess their personal flaws and anxieties to a virtual agent because it's not human and doesn't have its own needs

 

People tend to confess more of their personal flaws to a virtual agent, if suffering from certain social anxieties, than they would reveal to a real person who may react emotionally. The cybertherapist asks the human if he or she would like to see a therapist. The emerging field of cybertherapy relates to personal or cultural issues.

 

The idea of virtual reality avatars being used therapeutically to desensitize you emotionally from anxiety and a variety of fears or phobias has been used online since the 1990s as web-based personalities people use to represent their alter egos in online fictional 'worlds'. Telemedicine and cybertherapy are linked. Also see the article, Annual Review of CyberTherapy and Telemedicine, Volume 7, Issue 2009.

 

Scientists are researching what side effects may lurk in people's minds after spending time in virtual reality with virtual humans or by inhabiting avatars of themselves? The problem with virtual reality therapy is that some people may internalize the virtual reality experiences.

 

Some questions researchers explore are the following: How would internalizing a virtual cybertherapy experience affect your health in the long run? What might be your response to certain virtual experiences? What effects might carry over into your real life now and in the future?

 

Cybertherapy is still in its infancy

 

The U.S. Army has invested heavily in virtual reality research for training and simulation. The field, cybertherapy, though is still in its infancy, but is growing and offers annual conferences with local and international following. It's used locally by some people who seek cybertherapy for any given special need, such as solutions from issues of autism.

 

U.S. Army invests $4 million each year on training programs for post-traumatic stress

 

According to the NY Times article, the U.S. Army has invested $4 million annually on training programs for treating post-traumatic stress reactions as well as for training officers. Many people trust this type of technology when it comes to therapy compared to face-to-face hands-on therapy with real rather than virtual humans. For example, if you confess or admit 'weakness' in front of a cybertherapist who is a computer or robot, what happens in that room stays in that room, at least in your perception, unless you're recorded.

 

The fear is what if you are recorded and it is used as evidence against you with your spouse, for example? How confidential is what you say to a cybertherapist as compared to a human with human foibles? People do feel more comfortable in front of a robot the reason why people feel less anxious is refered to as part of "living presence."

 

Robots guided by video cameras

 

At USC research includes robots that create a "living presence." The conversation isn't the same as a human might react because the robot guided by video cameras with microphones can't really do anything other than ask questions. Would you enjoy a robot asking you what you fear most or what you hate about yourself? That's what the USC robot asks. The robot does not diagnose. Anxious people may not be camera shy if only the camera is in the room with them or only cyber machines, even if they are recorded.

 

Meet virtual agent, Sim Coach

 

Even the Army uses Sim Coach, a virtual agent. And there are male and female versions of Sim Coach made to resemble different races, white and black. Sim Coach is used to motivate troops and empower them and their significant others to take the first step toward change or to transcend their past choices and move forward.

 

Frequent questions asked about cybertherapy by media enthusiasts focus on whether people turning to therapy should accept interaction with a virtual human programmed to be sensitive to personal needs? Can it keep your deepest secrets? Or is cybertherapy too two-dimensional? Perhaps this cybertherapy can take the place of a coach in some situations.

 

Virtual reality therapy in California

 

You may have read about experiments in hospitals going back to the mid-1990s on using virtual reality as therapy in various hospitals in California. Virtual reality therapy for psychiatric and/or emotional issues, such as phobias, may be a continuing health trend in Sacramento and the Bay Area. For example, in the Marin County area of California, (San Rafael) the Kaiser-Permanente HMO Medical Group back in 1994 developed a trial system which evaluates the use of virtual reality in the treatment of patients with a fear of heights.

 

In a ground-breaking study, headed by Dr. Ralph Lamson, "Virtual Therapy" was shown to aid over 90 percent of participants to reach self-assigned treatment goals, such as walking over a narrow plank and crossing a suspension bridge spanning a deep gorge, according to the June 11, 1994 article by Alison Goddard, "Virtual Therapy Reaches New Heights."

 

Dr. Lamson used Division's virtual environment authoring software, PROVISION 100, to design a study to determine the effects of immersing individuals into a computer generated virtual environment in which they encounter the perception of depth and height. dVISE, Division, Inc.'s (Redwood, CA) virtual environment software was used to develop a virtual world with a cafe, an elevated patio, and a plank leading from the patio to a bridge.

 

Surrounding hills and water filled out the scene. Surfaces were given realistic textures, lighting, and shading. Clients immersed in the believable environment moved through the scene, looking in all directions, exploring as they would in the real world. They walked to the edge of the plank and bridge as they looked below.

 

Virtual reality is used for treating phobias

 

According to Dr. Lamson, virtual architecture has clear advantages for helping those with environmental fears. Also see the article, "Clinical Application of Virtual Therapy to Psychiatric Disorders," by Ralph J. Lamson, PhD, and Mark Meisner, M.D. Dept. of Psychiatry, Kaiser-Permanente Medical Group, Inc., San Rafael, CA.

 

"Virtual Therapy gives the individual an opportunity to approach the object they fear in a virtual environment," Lamson explained, according to a news release. "Being immersed in a virtual, feared situation is very close to reality. After the virtual therapy, participants feel as if they already have had a success in overcoming their fear. This is a strong confidence builder."

 

After encountering virtual heights and depths, participants faced two real-world goals such as driving across a bridge and riding a glass-enclosed elevator while viewing the surroundings. Followup studies are scheduled. For some, the only personal space they control is inside their purses. Also check out the article, "Virtual Reality and Psychotherapy."

 

Cybertherapy can be used in the niche media to help commentators and communicators think in three dimensions to develop interactive content. Writers create three dimensional interactive branching alternative pathways as therapy. Writing is cathartic. Cybertherapy can be used with creative writing therapy by using interactive multimedia to measure emotive writing.

 

The cybertherapist might look at the participant's writings from the inner self and analyze behavior and emotion. The next step could be to measure the range of change or growth in a script. Cybertherapists in the media might use scripts written by those who find a therapeutic and relaxing experience is to write about choices, emotions, and feelings and then compare those to more left-hemisphere experiences such as logic and long-term planning or looking at many solutions and choices through many forks in the road of choices and possibilities.

 

Cybertherapy meets niche media therapy

 

In cybertherapy, the trained media or creative writing therapist, much like the trained poetry therapist, serves as partner with the attending psychotherapist in a program to help a client, especially a survivor of abuse, trauma, spouse battering, incest, or low-self esteem conditioning to measure his or her own range of change or growth from the beginning of the story or script to the end.

 

The acting psychotherapist in partner with the creative writing therapist gives periodical evaluations to determine the effectiveness of the procedures employed by the creative writing therapist using interactive multimedia. Who works with a creative writing therapist in the field of holistic family health?

 

Subjects attending an accredited facility for the treatment of mental disorders who until recently worked only with poetry therapists and their psychologists or counselors, now work with other expressive therapists. Universities offer graduate degrees and/or certification in the various expressive therapies: art therapy, drama therapy, dance therapy, music therapy, poetry therapy, or various expressive arts therapies.

 

Interactive multimedia therapy as inner personal journaling and social media

 

Since the advent of interactive multimedia using entertainment as learning and learning as therapy, inner personal journaling has become popular as a means to self-growth and self-expression used in a therapeutic setting. Poetry therapy has been extended to bibliotherapy, and finally to creative writing and scriptwriting therapy--with or without interactive multimedia.

 

With interactive multimedia, the videobiography form can be used to place one's autobiography on videotape and then transfer the videotape scene to a computer disk. Once on the computer, the video can be accompanies by sound, music, written text, and animation, cartoons, photographs, illustrations, or other graphics by use of a scanner.

 

Personal journaling often ends up as social media on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. When the personal journaling years later turns up on Google searches, for example, people may feel that what they wrote in their personal journals a decade earlier is still accessible online by anyone. This is one aspect of cybertherapy that needs to be address regarding how confidential is what is written or said to a cybertherapist that's a robot or computer.

 

Interactive multimedia as internalized cybertherapy

 

Classes in interactive multimedia have worked closely with creative writing departments so that autobiographical screenplays can be transferred to computers, to computer discs or otherwise incorporated into online video and desktop publishing programs. Creative writing therapy works well with cybertherapy in holistic family health classes that may focus on writing personal journals or therapeutic newsletters as therapy.

 

Check out the book, Dreaming In Color, by Charlotte Vale Allen (Doubleday, NY, 1993) to be used to stimulate feelings and the desire to write in a lyrical manner about family dynamics for the niche media, even if the media is read only by the writer and use as therapeutic catharsis. Creative writing therapy, with our without interactive multimedia, facilitates personal growth and self-development.

 

Cybertherapy can be an ideal tool to help people write about self-esteem and self-concept. It has its place among the expressive therapies. But people need the choice as to whether the material written as niche media is to remain confidential or be recorded and end up some day online and public.

 

Can what is said to a cybertherapist be deleted permanently by the person writing for catharsis or therapeutically? Or will it end up online as autobiography? How confidential is cybertherapy as a medical record, as social media, or as niche media?

 

Can a Creative Writing Therapist Be Put To Use More Effectively in Cybertherapy?

 

In 1977, a Federal Title, classification 601, was created for bibliotherapists to be hired. Poetry therapists undertook 440 hours of the study of poetry therapy became eligible for the newly created position, according to the The National Association for Poetry Therapy located presently at 7715 White Rim Terrace, Patomac, MD. 20854 (301) 299-8330. (Peggy Osna Heller, President,--as listed in the 1994 Encyclopedia of Associations.)

 

A quarterly is published by the Association for Poetry Therapy called the A.P.T. News. It's estimated that thousands of professionals use poetry therapy. The requirements for a "trainee in poetry therapy" include graduation from an accredited college with a degree in the humanities or behavioral sciences.

 

Equivalent credit may be granted for combination of completed college courses and experience in a recognized institution.

There should be evidence of concentration in poetry covering the primitive, classical, post-renaissance, modern, and avant-garde writing. The trainee must be accepted into a mental health program as a volunteer or paid employee under professional supervision.

 

As a poetry therapist, you must not exaggerate your own importance in the therapeutic team. Certification allows you to put a C.P.T. (Certified Poetry Therapist) designation after your name.

 

Poetry therapy training programs

 

Training programs in poetry therapy and bibliotherapy are offered through the National Association for Poetry Therapy and through other private schools. There are several poetry therapy institutes. The New School for Social Research in New York City offered training programs in poetry therapy and bibliotherapy.

 

One poetry therapist, Don Theye, has a motto: "Observe, absorb, create, share." A book, A Seminar on Bibliotherapy: Proceedings by Dr. Franklin M. Berry, a psychology professor, was offered by the Library School, University of Wisconsin, Helen White Hall, 600 N. Park, Madison, WI, 53706.

 

For guidelines to poetry therapy and book lists, write: J.B. Lippincott, Co., East Washington Sq., Philadelphia, PA 19105. Of interest are the pioneer books written in the sixties and seventies, such as Poetry Therapy, by Dr. Jack J. Leedy (1969), and Poetry, the Healer, Dr. Jack J. Leedy (1973).

 

Using Interactive Multimedia to Create Branching Narratives as Therapy

The purpose of using interactive multimedia fiction in cybertherapy is to create branching narratives for interactive communication on a computer. The story has many branching middle parts, all converging on the same, successful, self-growth ending. The writer then measures the range of change that has occurred for a positive ending.

 

Some creative writing therapists may choose to have clients use interactive fiction as therapy. The therapist has the client think of as many alternatives as possible in order to write the branching narratives.

 

The reader or interactive multimedia partner/game player can choose as many alternative middles and endings as he or she wants, or choose the same ending with branching middle parts or narratives. The writer must think in three dimensions to write interactive multimedia and use it therapeutically.

 

Poetry may be used, or may be illustrated with text, music, animation, or graphics. But the story does have many endings or middles that branch. That's the whole idea.

 

Computer video games as cybertherapy

 

Choose one, choose many, play the computer game with a cybertherapist or alone. It's your life story. When you've played the interactive multimedia computer game which I put either on disc or online, you can measure your growth and choose the branch that you prefer. Interactive multimedia fiction writing as therapy in holistic health can be used as is or turned into a computer game.

 

If a participant doesn't have a computer, interactive fiction can still be written as a master script with many branches, many middles, many endings, or the same ending. The reader can choose to be interactive merely by reading the book or story.

 

Using alternative endings to a story as interactive media therapy

 

You don't need a computer to choose alternative endings to a story. But this technique is at the heart of interactive broadcast cinema. This technique is part of "expressive therapy," and can be used by certified poetry or expressive arts therapists. Cybertherapy can be used in helping people express solutions to their anxieties.

 

Take the concept of poetry therapy, for example and apply it decades later to cybertherapy as a form of niche media. Dr. Jack J. Leedy wrote, "Poetry is simply a road to the unconscious." Leedy pioneered the field of poetry therapy. A psychiatrist at Brooklyn-Cumberland Medical Center, New York, and director of the Poetry Therapy Center, when his books were published in the sixties and seventies, Leedy stated, "When a patient writes his own poem or chooses one from a book, it's a way for him to express something he can't get out any other way."

 

The reason in rhyme

 

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, "In Poetry, There Could Be Reason As Well As Rhyme," (March 13, 1975), Dr. Leedy is interested more in the person "getting the feeling out" than in rhythm, rhyme, or punctuation. Poetry therapists use rhyme as a part of the total treatment plan.

 

Dr. Leedy stated that poetry therapy "could be the crucial factor as other things start to fail." Leedy edited two books on poetry therapy as a healing agent. He used poetry as a diagnostic tool and as treatment. (For example, suicidal tendencies often become apparent in poems.)

 

Leedy told the Wall Street Journal in 1975, "Poetry can make a patient feel relaxed and relieve his tensions by being a safety valve for actual confrontation. We can look at peptic ulcers and other psychosomatic symptoms as simply poems struggling to be born."

 

Holistic family health therapists in Sacramento may also use creative writing therapy with multimedia, an offshoot of poetry therapy, focusing on the technique called "sensitivity searching." The holistic health therapists would be looking for sensitivity to come to the surface.

 

In the technique, the participant starts to write or tell a story, outline or write a short screenplay, write a chapter of a novel, or pen a poem, and let the individual finish the alternative, interactive, branching endings. Or a participant can start a poem and let the another person finish the alternate lines.

 

For example, if a participant receives his or her own spouse's poem or story, it lets the therapist know whether the person is measuring his/her own range of change or growth from the beginning of the story to the end. The lines in a story or poem, or even in a videobiography or autobiography are keyed as the person used to be.

 

Measuring the range of change and growth in life story writing and cybertherapy

 

Measuring the range of change allows the writer to choose an alternative branch and play the game (or read the story) and interact. The goal is to find out whether the person will write about how he or she is at present, will be in the future, or at the end of the story--when the character's growth or change can be measured.

 

Does cybertherapy measure how the participant transcended past choices, moved forward, and grew emotionally? The further the writer has to come or grow between the beginning and the story and the end is the emotional arc.

 

The writer can plot that high arc using cybertherapy. It's the range of change or growth of the lead character--the self. A virtual human cybertherapist can be a partner to the self, which is the lead character in a dance between a human and a robot or computer therapist in cybertherapy or in creative writing therapy or niche media therapeutic writing that is meant to be cathartic.

 

Do other characters also grow in the story? Or is the self only the one who grows in creative writing therapy applied to cybertherapy? Writing creatively as holistic health therapy forces a person to think and feel what all this means to that person. Creative writing therapy builds on creative feelings. Clients are called writers. They're writing life stories.

 

They can keep diaries, journals, write scripts, stories, plays, or novels, or even write and illustrate comic strips or transfer the pictures and text to computer disk and work with a programmer side by side to create a computer game of their life story with branches, or alternative endings or middle story parts.

 

How creative writing therapy works in holistic health practices is by using interactive multimedia or pen and paper, the writing reveals generations of abuse in families. It opens the subject of family dynamics for discussion, for using creative intuition with the five senses to create concrete stories.

 

Poems, stories, scripts, and games are analyzed, discussed, and examined. They're examined in the light of how the piece of creative writing or poem influences the person, how it makes one feel. The feel it, heal it approach is combined with the think it, analyze it method.

 

The point is not to analyze the creative writing to critique and evaluate it as a piece of writing, but to analyze how it affects the writer's own feelings. Writers may sit on pillows on the floor and write in a coffee house environment, or may collaborate with computer programmers and animators, video producers, or illustrators to go interactive multimedia when the script is finished.

 

The whole idea again, is to emphasize how the work of creativity affects the writer's choices. The idea behind creative writing therapy is to search out how you feel and put it down in one media or another.

 

It's optional to choose branch endings, branching narratives in the middle, or whether or not to make a computer game, novel, story, teleplay, video, radio play, or graphic novel-comic book, out of the script when finished. Here's where the cybertherapist comes in to focus on communication, long-term planning, or logic along with empathy.

 

A cybertherapist can also use mind-body-spirit as a holistic approach. Some people are happy with writing their feelings, behavior, or choices as a poem. Others want to write an entire life story or experience as a novel or computer game with many alternative choices. They want to create an interactive computer game on disc.

 

People may want their text illustrated, and they want sound and action. Others want a videobiography on industrial quality video tape. For others, a radio play on audio tape from a script is preferred. Still others want to write a romance novel or suspense novel or story, essay, or novelette.

 

Participants sometimes choose to create a comic strip expressing their feelings and illustrating it with cartoons. Many wish to write about their relationships having no close ties. Isolation and abuse is a frequent theme.

 

Poetry therapy often works well with harried executives whose employers give them an hour or two free in the afternoon to take off their shoes in the corporate lounge and analyze how their writing influences their feelings on subjects from domestic violence caused by swing shift stress to trauma as a result of workplace violence or preventing workplace distress caused by personality type conflicts.

 

In 1975, the Wall Street Journal reported that Arthur Lerner, a psychology professor at Los Angeles City College, recommended that poets be in residence at large corporations. There's a place in the corporate world for the poetry therapist to show employees how to use poetry therapy in the workplace.

 

Dr Jack Leedy wrote that he believed specific poems will be prescribed for certain ailments or problems. Poetry, and I believe all forms of creative writing, helps people learn how to make choices--decisions--when they use the writing experience to see how it effects their own feelings.

 

Does poetry writing therapy need two cybertherapists?

 

In poetry therapy, an in creative writing therapy, sometimes there are two therapists: the poetry therapist and the supervising psychotherapist. A simulated family setting may be created to have two authority figures for balance.

 

With two authority figures, who may not even be human in cybertherapy, there are subtle psychological differences between the therapists. One will be seen as more aggressive and masculine, and the other as more protective and feminine. You may need the Yin-Yang, anima-animus, male-female, nurturing-logical balance with creative writing therapy.

 

It's really not a good cop/bad cop skit you're playing in a psychodrama. What you want is to have the writer see the subtle psychological differences between the two authority figures and examine it by writing--to get the juices flowing, the writing unblocked.

 

In poetry therapy, the poems selected express feelings thought to be troubling member of the group. Dr. Menninger, the psychoanalyst, once wrote that, "Psychiatrists realize from clinical experience what poets have proclaimed in inspired verse, that to retreat permanently into the loneliness of one's own soul is to surrender one's claim upon life."

This same method is used for creative writing therapy in general--with stories, essays, novel chapters, or scripts. Copies of poems or stories chosen by therapists are distributed to group members. Short stories are short-shorts, less than 1,000 words.

 

Poems are of average length. The poems or short stories are read and discussed. Shorter novel chapters also can be examined in this way. Later comes the writing of poetry or short stories or cartoons with textual captions.

 

You can use cartoon therapy or comic strips with teams of writers and artists working together on each others' stories. Emphasis is on what feelings the action story provokes. For discussing or examining an issue, life experience, or incident, the emphasis is on what happens just prior to, during, and after the episode or situation.

When working separately with husbands and wives, the wives' cartoons are read and discussed in a separate group for the husbands. The men are asked to create by collage or writing and cartooning their own comic strip with themselves as the superhero character.

 

If you have a situation where a man who can't take care of his wife is married to a woman who can't take care of herself (financially and emotionally), you might have to address an issue of low self esteem and/or low impulse control.

The low self esteem and low impulse control is often played out by looking at and discussing the superhero in any given action adventure comic book the person may want to create and may put to interactive multimedia computer game, if the person shows an interest in enhancing creativity at the same time as working with creative writing therapy situations.

 

With the help of volunteer students of programming, these computer games may help the men become involved in learning digital multimedia as well as finding out why they feel so bad about themselves and fear abandonment, and why they react or respond as they do to specific experiences instead of working toward a range of change in their personal screenplays or projects, whether verbal or spatial.

 

The main question the therapists ask is "how do you feel about this?" The therapist is aware of symbolism and psychological themata in poetry or story writing. An example of how poetry therapy works is the book about the poetic process by Robert Graves, White Goddess.

Cybertherapy can help those with urgent messages to find their own niche media outlet - even if only one person reads the therapeutic reporting, poem, or editorial

 

In White Goddess, which is about the poetic process, poet Robert Graves writes, "The pathology of poetic composition is no secret. A poet finds himself caught in some baffling emotional problem which is of such urgency that it sends him into a sort of trance. And in this trance his mind works, with astonishing boldness and precision on several imaginative levels at once.

 

"The poem is either a practical answer to his problem or else it is a clear statement of it; and a problem clearly stated is half way to solution. Some poets are more plagued by others with emotional problems, and more conscientious in working out poems which arise from them--that is more attentive in their service then the Muse."

 

A poetry or creative writing therapist working in the field of holistic family health might take Grave's idea of working the mind on several imaginative levels at once and channel the process into writing in branching narratives, branching alternative pathways. This idea of thinking in three dimensions in order to write, helps to examine how the writing affects feelings. The alternative branching pathways allow the writer to make choices, to grow, and to measure the range of change.

 

Graves believed that "poetry is formed by the supralogical reconciliation of conflicting emotional ideas during a trance-like suspension of normal habits of thought." In psychiatrist, Dr. Jack Leedy's book, Poetry, the Healer, he writes that Graves, the poet, advises us that the poet "learns to induce the trance in self-protection whenever he feels unable to resolve an emotional conflict by simple logic."

 

Dr. Leedy explains in Poetry, the Healer, that when poet, Robert Graves had once experienced an emotional breakdown during military service, Graves' physician, Dr. W.H.R. Rivers, theorized that "every neurotic system, like dreams, was at once the product of a mental conflict and an attempt to resolve it." Dr. Rivers believed poems functioned in the same way.

 

Graves studied his own poetry and then wrote, "My hope was to help the recovery of public health of mind as well as my own by the writing of therapeutic poems." If poems can be a therapeutic part of holistic family health then many other forms of writing can be therapeutic as well, particularly the writing of stories, novels, and screenplays.

Graves wanted poetry to be used as "a form of psychotherapy" for emotional problems. Poetry therapists might also tackle interactive multimedia writing, autobiography writing, and true life experience screenplay writing used as a form of psychotherapy.

 

Graves also wrote that poetry could be used as much for prevention as for the cure of emotional disturbances. Graves recommended for starting, "a well-chosen anthology." Morris Robert Morrison, writing in J.J. Leedy's book Poetry, the Healer, stated that Graves wrote that the rhythm of a poem puts the reader "in a hypnotic trance."

Morrison states, "He is confronted with an allegorical solution of the problem that has been troubling him. His unconscious accepts the allegory as applicable to his own condition; the emotional crisis is relieved."

 

Frederick C. Prescott's The Poetic Mind, a study of how a poet's mind works, recognizes poetry therapy. This book relates Freud to literature and makes literature into an unconscious autobiography, a piece of writing that is disguised wish fulfillment.

On page 87 of Poetry the Healer, J.J. Leedy refers to poetry as "the great universal hypnotic, the all-time mind-altering drug," and "as a healing process based on self-analysis." I use the entire spectrum of creative fact-as-fiction writing therapy to give the writer self mastery skills over the environment. I have them write fact as fiction and fiction as fact.

 

Creative writing therapy sometimes keeps the base firmly rooted in reality and is both personal and universal. Writing is a safe expression of feelings. Writing can be oral and put on taped, and later transcribed. Writing therapy counterbalances fears, if the participants want to try writing or journaling as one of the holistic family health approaches to therapy.

 

Writing is often helpful for working through feelings about situations and life experiences or issues such as entering a new stage of life. All life is a script. Some people who are interested in expressing themselves verbally, might try these methods. Other people will prefer to express themselves spatially or through kinesthetic (hands on) means. Verbal preferences can focus on written word or verbal/oral.

 

Those who prefer talking to writing such as some oral types may prefer to narrate their own online or on disc videobiographies. And people with artistic interests may prefer to draw or doodle a book of cartoons and illustrate the cartoons by clip collage, scanning photos onto a disk, drawing the cartoons, or using thumb prints or stick figures to animate their work.

 

Creative writing therapy works well with some children. Oral biographies or experiences on audio or video tape can be transcribed and the children taught to read by hearing and seeing their own stories on computer screen or typed and put into book form using desktop publishing software or text and pop-up book formats.

 

The writing in a script should be concrete and detailed, appealing to the senses, before it can be rationalized to the abstract. One doesn't say one is shy, one says, "I took a sudden interest in my sneakers." In a script, as in scriptwriting therapy, the writing must show the feelings to tell the story.

 

A cybertherapist has a lot more time to devote to a participant. That time dedication to a participant wouldn't be found with humans on tight time schedules and with other responsibilities. Cybertherapists can be in someone's home at all hours like an alert button.