Stargate Horizons


"You are joking, right, sir?  I mean, this is a joke, isn't it?"  Jack's hopeful smile disappeared to be replaced by a pleading look.  "Please tell me that you're joking, General."

General George Hammond gazed at him with sympathy.  "I wish that I was, Colonel, but these orders come from high up in the chain of command, specifically from Senator Brandon Westmore, who has recently become involved in the Stargate Program."

"But, sir . . . biofeedback?"  There was a note of disdain in Jack's voice.

"Senator Westmore is a strong proponent of biofeedback and believes that it could be the answer to problems in the military caused by stress and anxiety.  You and I both know that stress among military personnel is a killer and, more than once, has caused people to make dangerous mistakes or to crack under pressure.  There is evidence to support the belief that biofeedback can be used to calm people and relieve stress.  Individuals have been able to lower their blood pressure using the technique, and, as Doctor Fraiser will tell you, high blood pressure is something she sees a lot of in her infirmary."

"With all due respect, sir, I don't believe in that stuff.  It's all a bunch of hogwash."

"Whether you believe it or not, Colonel, you have your orders.  The senator believes that, due to the highly stressful nature of our work, we're perfect candidates.  A Doctor Eliza White, who is an expert in biofeedback therapy, will be arriving tomorrow at 0800 to begin evaluating all the personnel on base and deciding which individuals would benefit from the therapy.  You are to be the second one she sees, followed by Major Carter and Doctor Jackson."

"The second one?"

"Yes.  As the commanding officer of this base, I go first."

"What about Teal'c, sir?"

"Though Doctor White has been briefed about the Stargate itself, she does not know any details about the Goa'uld or the Jaffa.  Therefore, using biofeedback on Teal'c is out of the question."

"Lucky Teal'c."

Hammond frowned.  "I don't like this any better than you do, Jack.  I have better things to do with my time.  But the president has approved this, and he is still my boss, as he is yours.  So, I suggest that you keep that in mind and try to get through this with as much patience as you can manage."

Duly chastised, Jack said, "Yes, sir."

Jack left Hammond's office and headed for the commissary.  He was supposed to meet his team there for a bite to eat.  As he walked in the door, he saw that Daniel, Sam and Teal'c were already there.  Jack got his lunch and carried it over to the table.

"Hey, Jack," Daniel greeted, followed by a "Good afternoon, sir," from Sam.

"I'm not so sure about the good part," Jack muttered.

"Is something wrong, Colonel?" Sam asked.

"Well, as it turns out, we're all going to get to be guinea pigs again."

"Oh, please don't tell me Anise is coming back," Daniel groaned.

"I almost wish that was the case.  No, strike that.  I don't ever want to see that particular Tok'ra again."

"The feeling is mutual," stated Teal'c.

"So, what is it this time, sir?" Sam asked.

"What do you guys know about biofeedback?"

Daniel's eyebrows rose.  "Biofeedback?"

"Yeah.  It seems that some senator is really gung ho about it and has convinced the president that all of us here at the SGC are perfect candidates for trying it out."

"What is biofeedback?" Teal'c asked.

"Well, putting it simply, biofeedback is a type of therapy in which people are trained to exercise some control over their own body processes," Daniel answered.  "It's been around in one form or another for thousands of years.  Ancient Greek, Chinese and Indian healers all believed that the mind could influence the body, that you could both cause and cure illnesses.  This belief is still in existence today in some cultures, such as among the Australian Aborigines.  Once Western medicine began to discover the physical causes for diseases and other ailments, those ancient beliefs were mostly rejected, but interest in them has been gradually returning.  Biofeedback started being used therapeutically after the second world war to help returning veterans who needed physical therapy.  It is now recognized by many physicians and psychologists as a useful therapeutic technique."

"Now, why doesn't it surprise me that you know that, Daniel?" Jack remarked.

The younger man shrugged.  "I study anthropology, Jack.  That includes the various practices and beliefs that ancient civilizations had."

Jack turned to the other genius on the team.  "So, what about you, Carter?  Care to dazzle me with your knowledge?"

"Sorry, sir.  I really don't know all that much about biofeedback.  It's not a subject I ever got into.  I'd bet that Janet could tell you some things about it, though."

"I really don't want to know about it, Major.  I would prefer remaining ignorant for the rest of my life.  But, since we have no choice but to do this, I figured that we should all know what we're getting into."

"So, when is this going to happen?" Sam asked.

"Some doctor is going to be arriving tomorrow morning.  The three of us are scheduled to meet with her after Hammond gets his turn.  Teal'c is exempt.  Needless to say, I'm not looking forward to it."

"Relax, Jack," Daniel said.  "I can guarantee that the doctor isn't going to start chanting in some ancient language and cast a spell on you."

"Well, thank you very much for that assurance, Daniel," Jack responded sarcastically.  "I'll leave my garlic at home."

"Um, garlic is for warding off vampires . . . sir," Sam reminded him.


After lunch, the foursome decided to visit Janet to see what she knew about biofeedback.  It turned out that the doctor knew quite a bit on the subject.

"I studied a little about it during my second year in medical school," she told them.  "It's really quite fascinating.  Biofeedback uses electronic sensors to measure and feed back information about an individual's body that they normally wouldn't have access to.  In clinical biofeedback, muscle activity, heart rate, pulse volume, brainwave patterns, and other physiological data are monitored.  The subject becomes aware of what's happening in their bodies because they can see it being reproduced on a computer screen by means of the various signals being sent through the sensors.  A competent biofeedback therapist can then help teach the person how to alter or change those signals, thereby controlling their own body's internal systems.  There are a great many physical and psychological ailments that have been treated with biofeedback, including stress, anxiety, asthma, high blood pressure, epilepsy, migraine headaches, and many other types of pain.  There has even been success in regaining movement in victims of paralysis."

"So, I'm guessing that you're all for this whole thing," Jack muttered.

"I'm going to reserve my judgment until after I see if it is of some use, but, yes, I think it might help some individuals control their stress and anxiety, and I would be very happy to see fewer instances of elevated blood pressure in my infirmary."

Since Jack was the only one on his team who was against the biofeedback, he did the rest of his grumbling to himself.  Both Daniel and Sam were interested in the process and looking forward to experiencing it for themselves.  Teal'c was disappointed that he would not be participating since it reminded him of the connection he used to make with his symbiote during Kel'no'reem and the healing that would take place through that connection.

Promptly at eight a.m. the following morning, Doctor Eliza White arrived.  Her equipment was set up in one of the isolation rooms since it would allow Janet to monitor the proceedings without actually being in the room.

Doctor White's first patient was General George Hammond.  The first thing she did was conduct an interview with him about his health and that of family members.  She then hooked him up to the biofeedback instruments using sensors attached to several locations on his body.  She recorded the various readings to give her a picture of the general's overall psychophysiological state, creating a baseline that she would use for the training sessions.

During this first session, Eliza got the impression that General Hammond was a pleasant, easy-going man with a great deal of patience and an impressive ability to remain calm under pressure.  Because of the great responsibilities of his job and the stress inherent in it, she decided that he could benefit most from a way to relieve stress and anxiety.  His blood pressure was also a little elevated, which she could work on as well.  All in all, Eliza determined that the man should do well with biofeedback.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was Colonel Jack O'Neill.  Right from the start, the therapist guessed that she'd have a hard time with him.  He was completely against the whole thing, and she doubted that she'd be able to get him to reach the proper mental state.  Colonel O'Neill had the wrong kind of personality and attitude for psychophysiologically-based treatment techniques, and Eliza doubted that the biofeedback would be successful with him.  However, the colonel did suffer from frequent headaches, which might be treatable with biofeedback, so Eliza had decided to go ahead and try.

Major Samantha Carter was quite pleasant.  As a fellow scientist, she was very interested in the process and was eager to participate for that reason.  She asked dozens of questions and was able to grasp most of the concepts.  The major was a workaholic and tended to have difficulty relaxing, which was something the biofeedback could help her overcome.  The therapist believed that her sessions with Major Carter would go well.

It didn't take long for Eliza to figure out that Doctor Daniel Jackson was one of the most intuitively brilliant and opened-minded people she'd ever had the pleasure of meeting.  He had no doubt at all that the process of biofeedback really worked, and they ended up getting into an in-depth discussion about the beliefs various cultures have regarding mental abilities and the ways they could be used to affect the human body.  Though Daniel's health appeared to be excellent, like Colonel O'Neill, he had a problem with headaches that Eliza was hoping would respond to biofeedback therapy.  She was looking forward to his sessions.

Out of all the personnel Eliza interviewed, only a small percentage had specific physical or emotional problems that were treatable with biofeedback.  She noted that over half the people who regularly went on off-world missions suffered from the same headaches that Colonel O'Neill and Daniel Jackson did.  This was a problem that Eliza really hoped she could solve.

At last, the day came for the actual training sessions to begin.  Like with the interviews, General Hammond went first.  Jack was waiting outside when he emerged from his session.

"So, how was it, sir?" the colonel asked.

"Very interesting.  Certainly a new experience for me."  Hammond noticed the expression on Jack's face.  "Relax, Colonel.  It doesn't hurt a bit."

Muttering something under his breath, Jack went into the room.

"Hello again, Colonel," the therapist said pleasantly, her grey-green eyes smiling at him.  "Why don't you take a seat in that chair over there and we'll begin."

An hour later, the therapist gave up any hope of success with the man.  As she suspected, Jack O'Neill was not a good candidate for biofeedback.  For it to work, you had to believe that it could work, and the colonel didn't.  Eliza saw no point in trying again.

"I could have told you that it probably wouldn't work on him," Janet said in amusement after Jack had left.  She hadn't been there to watch any of the interviews, but had wanted to observe the first training sessions.

Eliza looked up at her through the observation window.  "Is he always like that?"

"The colonel has little patience for things he doesn't understand or doesn't agree with.  He's also got a skull as hard as titanium.  But his stubbornness has been a very good thing on more than one occasion.  He's saved the lives of his teammates, not to mention a whole lot of other people, on more than one occasion because of his refusal to give up."

"What about Doctor Jackson?  He seems to be totally opposite from the colonel.  I can't imagine them getting along very well."

Janet smiled.  "Oh, don't let his sweet nature fool you, Doctor.  Daniel's stubbornness is legendary.  He's one of those people who never gives up and never backs down if he feels that he's in the right.  The difference is that he's not quite so . . . acerbic about it, and he usually respects other people's opinions."

"Really?  He struck me as very agreeable and open-minded."

"Oh, he is.  He's extremely open-minded and is very agreeable as long as someone isn't doing something or suggesting something that Daniel feels is unethical.  But God help you if you are, because he won't back down and isn't shy about letting you know what he thinks.  He's one of the few people on this base who can out-stubborn Colonel O'Neill and has no fear of going toe-to-toe with him in a battle of wills."

Eliza laughed.  "It sounds like they have an interesting relationship."

"That they do.  But they love each other all the same."

When Jack came out, he found Daniel and Sam in the waiting area.  He sat beside the archeologist, looking none too pleased.

"I'm guessing that things didn't go very well," Daniel surmised.

"She sticks all these things on me, and then there's all this beeping and wavy lines going all over the place on the monitor, and she tries to get me to slow down the beeping or make the wavy lines less wavy."

"No luck?"

"Hell no.  If I wanted to do magic tricks, I'd have studied to be a magician."

"Sir, the beeping and the lines on the monitor are representations of—"

"Ah!  I don't want to hear it, Carter.  Maybe you and Daniel here both think it's cool, but I'm just glad it's over."

"She's not going to try again, sir?"

"She says that I'm not a good subject for biofeedback, something about me having the wrong kind of personality for it."

"Now, why doesn't that surprise me?" Daniel murmured.

Jack glared at him.  "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing.  It's just that, for something like that to work, you have to at least have some belief that it can."

"And if someone had bothered to bring that fact up to begin with, I wouldn't have had to go through all that."

Sam was called into the room.  Her session went very well.  The Air Force major looked upon the whole thing as a fascinating science experiment, and, like all her other experiments, undertook it with her full attention.

Finally, it was Daniel's turn.  Eliza told him that the first order of business would be an attempt to get rid of the headaches caused by going through the Stargate.  Long ago, Doctor MacKenzie had erroneously believed that those headaches were a symptom of Stargate-induced schizophrenia.  Since then, Janet had determined that the headaches were just a mild side effect of gate travel.  In the years that the SGC had been in existence, nothing more serious had developed.  Eliza had said that she would seek to help Daniel with the headaches.  He hoped that she could.

It was only a few minutes into the session when Eliza was actually able to get Daniel to the point where he was exercising some control over his heart rate, blood pressure, and the tension in his muscles.

"Wow.  I'm very impressed, Doctor Jackson," the therapist remarked, totally amazed.  "I've never heard of anyone reaching this state so fast.  Are you sure that you've never done biofeedback before?"

"No, never.  I do meditate on occasion, though."

"Ah, well, maybe that helps explain it.  Even so, this is astounding.  In our next session, I'd really like to see if you can gain some control over your brainwaves.  For right now, let's see if we can get rid of that little headache you say that you've got."

By the end of the thirty minute session, Daniel's headache was completely gone, and Eliza was in complete awe of him.  So was Janet, for that matter, and she'd known him for all these years.  In a mere half-hour, Daniel had succeeded in doing things that it would generally take a good eight to ten sessions to achieve.  The two doctors discussed the possible reasons for Daniel's unbelievably fast progress, though there were some things that Janet could not divulge.  Doctor White's security clearance was limited to knowledge of the Stargate and the fact that humans from Earth were exploring the galaxy and defending the planet from possible enemies.  Other than that, she could not be told anything, like the fact that Daniel had spent a year on a higher plane of existence as a creature made of pure energy.

Janet had to wonder if Daniel's time as an ascended being could have anything to do with his amazingly fast success with the biofeedback.  Though the archeologist's tests all showed that he was fully human once again, there were things that modern science still did not have the capacity to measure or detect.

Unaware that he was the topic of an intense discussion by the two doctors, Daniel went out to where Jack and Sam were waiting for him.

"So, how did it go?" Sam asked.

"Quite good, actually.  My headache's gone."

Sam frowned.  "You mean you actually learned how to make a headache go away already?"

"Yeah.  Doctor White said I was a fast learner."

"A fast learner?  Daniel, from what I learned in the research I did about biofeedback, it's incredible that you were able to do that during your first session."

"What's the big deal?" Jack asked.  "We already know that Daniel's a fast learner, what with the way he soaks up new languages and history stuff like a sponge."

"It's not the same thing, sir.  This has nothing to do with how smart you are or how well you retain information.  This is mind over matter, the ability to control physical matter – namely, your own body, in the case of biofeedback – through the power of your mind."

Daniel was no longer looking at them.  There was a troubled frown on his face, his eyes focused on the floor.

"Daniel?  Are you okay?" Sam asked.

"What?  Oh.  Yeah, I'm fine.  I was just wondering if. . . ."  He shook his head.  "It's nothing, just a passing thought.  So, I guess we're all done here for today.  My next session is scheduled for day after tomorrow."

"Mine too," Sam said.

"And mine's never," Jack stated, not making any secret of how pleased he was by that fact.  "Come on, you two.  Let's get out of here."

Daniel followed his teammates, the ghost of his earlier thought remaining in his mind like a specter that no exorcism could completely banish.

Next Chapter

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