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Regan Sawyer
Malcolm Campbell
UWRT 1103

Rewind The Mind: Music Therapy and Psychiatric Illness
“Music is therapy. Music moves people. It connects people in ways no other medium can. It
pulls on the heartstrings. It acts as medicine.”
Did you know that out of all other activities in the world, music is the only one that
utilizes every part of your brain at once? Scientists have studied music and its effect on people
for so long, and they’re just beginning to understand all it can do. After exposing individuals to
music and recording their brain activity, Finnish scientists discovered that music not only utilizes
the auditory portion of the brain, but it also creates pulse recruits in motor areas of the braininsinuating that music and movement are closely intertwined. Limbic areas of the brain are also
triggered. This is the part of the brain associated with emotions. (Suomen Akatemia, Music
Lights Up the Whole Brain). Music is a very powerful thing, and can change lives in more ways
than one. In fact, music can reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Depression,
and some other psychological ailments for which there is no cure. How do we go about reversing
these effects? One of the most successful methods used is known as Music Therapy.
Music Therapy is a type of therapy that uses music to help patients with cognitive,
emotional, and social disabilities. Each patient is analyzed and after identifying their strengths
and weaknesses, the patients are given a therapist who is qualified to provide the indicated

Music Therapy and The Bible). or listening to music. What is Music Therapy?). where not only physicians. Music Therapy also provides avenues for communication for patients who have difficulty expressing themselves through speech. There were also places known as Healing Shrines. it was believed that music had a mathematical relationship to the cosmos (Growney). (The American Music Therapy Association. This verse is a very early example of using music as a form of medicine. In Sparta. now an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. it was believed that hearing music from the Lyre would help relieve his pain. “now the spirit of the Lord departed from Saul. and India (University of Hospitals at Cleveland. dancing to. and historical writings about ancient civilizations including Rome. Music Therapy came to America in the 18th century. Grecians in manic states were told to listen to the flute. Music as Medicine). (Growney). When Saul was tormented by an evil spirit. In ancient Greece. Let our Lord now command the servants who attend you to look for someone who is skillful in playing the Lyre. And Saul’s servants said to him: ‘see. An example of this can be found in I Samuel 16: 14-23. creating. China. and you will feel better’” (Anonymous. but musicians or hymn specialists. In fact. it was believed that the music of Thales cured the plague. .Sawyer 2 treatment. worked to help treat illnesses. Greece. Whether it be singing. Ancient Greece is another ancient civilization that used music as medicine. he will play it. and an evil spirit of the Lord tormented him. 600 B. Egypt. because it had a calming effect. they were so dependent. they even used music to treat hangovers! (Growney). There are records of using music as a form of medicine in biblical scriptures. but its existence dates back to ancient times.C. and when the evil spirit from God is upon you. And so the ancient Greek philosophers thought it could serve a therapeutic service. Grecians were very dependent on music as medicine.

or “earthly souls. Many of the theories from Greek philosophers and ancient texts were dismissed. Music and its mystical powers did not reach too terribly far from the religion aspect. and soon military officials became aware of the . music therapy came to America (Music as Medicine). As years progressed. mania. Basil believed that music brought worshipers together. In the WWII era. used music as treatment for psychiatric patients in mental wards.” Plato believed that music went through re-harmonizing just as the human body goes through re-balancing. He even went as far to say that music had the power to restore hearing loss (Growney). or “the heavenly harmony of the music of the spheres”. an Italian composer named Gioseffo Zarlino believed that music had healing abilities. however. which stated that musica mundane. a Greek philosopher believed that music had an influence on personality. While many believed that mental illnesses were a curse from God. St. Arabs believed that mental illnesses were a gift from God. Constantinople was one of the first places to use music therapy to treat psychiatric illnesses rather than using music in a religious manner (Growney). for instance. during the renaissance. and to higher states of being.” Plato had a theory known as the Theory of Correspondence. the plague. Religion. had either a positive or negative effect on musica humana. Arab countries. but there were some instances where music was used in a non-sacred way. music therapy became even more popular. music therapy became an official part of the reconditioning of soldiers. Boethius believed that music had the power to improve the morals of men. Zarlino claimed that music could treat depression. He called music “the medicine of the soul. thus music has therapeutic value (Growney). Music therapy did not have such luck in the European Middle Ages. In the year 1943. and pain relief. Later in history. however is something that helped keep music therapy alive.Sawyer 3 Plato.

of movement. Music therapy is also used to help children with Autism. but often we are wrong. There are illnesses that can wipe the brain clean of memory. a greater quality of life is possible. and Down's Syndrome develop motor skills. But music is the saving grace that brings back some of the memory. and music therapy seemed to be helping them do just that. For wounded soldiers.something soldiers who had just came home from battle needed (Sullivan. and uses his talent to help Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients reclaim their lives. with no movement and no speech. music therapy is often used in Alzheimer’s care units. called the Rebecca Center for Music Therapy. upholding a positive morale was very important to their healing process. but when music began to play they danced and sang along (Rob. He is also a licensed music therapist. Many men laid in bed all day. of speech. for example. they are able to outwardly express their emotions and recall memories that the music brings back to them.” Carpente notes that his music therapy program helps Dementia patients improve their quality of life by doing the . He also claims that “by listening to and creating live music. 2007). Dementia care units. Some neuropsychiatric wards had patients who could not be reached by anything but music. In today’s age. Soldiers who were exposed to music had more confidence in not only themselves but their comrades. runs a music therapy clinic in New York. of common sense. communication skills. We may think we are in control of our emotions and our brains. Carpente claims that by getting elderly people together and exposing them to live music. ADD. and channel energy. It’s amazing how music can affect us. 1999).Sawyer 4 effect music had on their soldiers (Growney). and many other rehabilitation centers. Many hospitals made music therapy mandatory for their soldiers simply because music allowed them to come together as a group and release emotion. John Carpente.

David Aldridge. lack of ability to communicate with others can lead to a feeling of isolation (Schaffer). and music is so charged on emotion. it offers a communicative structure. thinking.” Alicia Ann Clair. had a camera set up in a dementia patient's room. using what’s called “Memory in Sound” (Schaffer). allowing the patients to express their feelings through music to others. and the ability to interact socially with others. The patient was an old man who hadn’t spoken in a very long time. and physiology. It can have effects on people’s mood. Music can act as an interpreter. so once it has progressed in a patient. director of music education and music therapy at the University of Kansas/Lawrence. we are able to see vivid memories both good and bad when exposed to certain types of music. a supervisor of music therapy research. Singing has many functions. a sense of control over their own life. stimulates and regulates. promoting rhythmic or vocal stimulation and helping their overall physical rehabilitation. which is probably why music can make us recall vivid memories. a non-pharmacological management of discomfort or pain. Music therapy can also help dementia patients speak to others. Dementia is a degenerative disease. states that “using songs in therapy promotes communication. and helps us avoid losing them (Schaffer). Because emotions and memory are so closely linked. and promotes dialogue. One case in particular proves this true. chair of qualitative research in medicine at the University Witten Herdecke (Germany). overall improvement of mood. promoting interest. and editor of Music Therapy in Dementia Care. Lehtonen.Sawyer 5 following: memory recalls. has a similar view. Going along with Alicia Ann Clair. Lehtonen recorded every session and watched the tapes after the patient was done with his therapy. . John Carpente states that music is one of the most powerful stimuli. She claims that music promotes a way to employ cognitive skills.

I think recalling life through music helps keep them active and happy. these pathways that have been created within the brain will become reinforced. the old man would sing his own song. After one-hour music therapy sessions per week.” Music therapy is also used in the treatment of young children. every child’s behavior seemed to have improved (De Vivo). music therapy can help reduce anxiety in autistic children.which are known to be quite difficult. and noisiness. And finally. Autistic children. “The after war generation is getting old”. and will help with speech. Many children with autism show restlessness. but prevent it. often have an easier time with social interaction. For example. and once the therapists song was over. in a broken voice. Lehtonen discovered the man spent his best years in Italy working as an interior architect.from memory. Children who are diagnosed with autism tend to suffer from . when exposed to music therapy. Up to 30% of autistic children are nonverbal. After checking his record. children with Autism often have a lack of communication skills and have difficulty with social interaction (Mayo Clinic). Lehtonen also believes that music can not only help dementia. The man sang Italian arias. A recent study showed that autistic children responded better to their therapist and their fellow classmates when music was being used during playtime as opposed to playtime without music. “and there are more and more elderly people who are in relatively good condition both physically and mentally. Music uses a method of muscle memory. by mapping sounds to actions. Lehtonen claims. which can help with the understanding of verbal commands. The therapist sang old Finnish folk songs to him every day. aggression. Music therapy also helped improve their behavior. And after many therapy sessions. and many have difficulty following verbal commands.Sawyer 6 and couldn’t remember his own name.

After some music therapy sessions at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Music therapy can turn someone’s life around. Music therapy can be used to essentially turn back time. Music is a universal uniter. and it can help people in their everyday life too. children with disabilities. .Sawyer 7 anxiety more so than the average rewind the human brain and give them a better life. the anxiety in the children was highly reduced (De Vivo). and it has an extraordinary effect on us as human beings.

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