“All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music” – Walter Pater
Can you imagine life without music? There’s scarcely anything in this world that can improve our mood as much as beautiful, uplifting music. Of course, depressing music can do the opposite. But can music be used as a form of medicine to help treat mental disorders like schizophrenia? Before we explore this complex, fascinating issue, let’s make sure we all know what schizophrenia is. According to the Mayo Clinic:
Schizophrenia is a group of severe brain disorders in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking and behavior.
Contrary to some popular belief, schizophrenia isn’t split personality or multiple personality. The word “schizophrenia” does mean “split mind,” but it refers to a disruption of the usual balance of emotions and thinking.
Schizophrenia is a chronic condition, requiring lifelong treatment.
Can music therapy help treat this disorder? According to the University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway, in Music therapy for people with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like disorders:
Music therapy as an addition to standard care helps people with schizophrenia to improve their global state, mental state (including negative symptoms) and social functioning if a sufficient number of music therapy sessions are provided by qualified music therapists. Further research should especially address the long-term effects of music therapy, dose-response relationships, as well as the relevance of outcomes measures in relation to music therapy.
It looks like there may be some promise here. I know nothing about music therapy, but if it truly does work, I wonder if music therapist/composers will write music unique to each patient depending on what the patient responds to? Or is this what they already do?