15 Temmuz 2011 Cuma

Music for the Mind: The Psychology of Music

Music for the Mind: The Psychology of Music

According to British psychologist Glenn Wilson, music plays a very central role in the lives of people and is ranked highly among pleasures including sex, food and drink. Aside from the enjoyment of listening to tunes or composing symphonies, studies show that music of all genres can have a great impact on both the physical and psychological aspects of the human body, in addition to that of plants and animals.

The American Music Therapy Association describes this form of treatment as “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship.” People suffering from psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression and autism have shown great improvement in various mental aspects after listening to certain classifications of music. A 2009 article in The Washington Post discusses a mother’s use of music to assist her 15-year-old autistic daughter perform daily activities including bathing, eating and attending school. She and her daughter regularly engage in what is called music therapy by singing simple tunes together; the lyrics are not just words, but instructions such as “take a bath.”

Patients suffering from anxiety and depression often show marked improvements in symptoms after listening to soothing or uplifting music. The reason for this is purely neurological. As mental disorders, both anxiety and depression are associated with lower levels of the neurotransmitter Serotonin within the brain, and can reduce brain activity on an alarming scale. Musical tunes and melodies help increase Serotonin levels to a more natural, calming state. Typically the more melodious music is the better as it also has the power to calm nerves and reduce stress. Although someone may get a rush from heavy metal rather than classical; it depends on the person. Either way, no ill effects are generally discovered using music therapy.

In addition to its copious mental advantages, music is also celebrated for its innate restorative abilities, literally healing from the inside out. French researcher and otolaryngologist Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis conducted in 1991 what he coined “The Mozart Effect,” which he claimed promoted healing and brain development. His theory also proposed that listening to Mozart’s ballads at differing frequencies helped people with inner ear conditions retrain their ears to hear again.

Cognitive function benefits from music in a variety of ways; mood is largely influenced by the sound of music. Marketers actually research the kind of music that influences shoppers, for example, a store that plays pleasant, positive tunes usually enhances the customers’ experience and keeps them coming back for more, so the theory goes. Memory is another brain function that increases under the influence of song. Ever heard the idea that listening to classical tunes before a test enhances recall function? Go ahead, give it a try.

Music defines decades, bridges barriers and enhances lives, so the theory that music promotes health and well-being isn’t that far off the scale.

Mind Over Cancer

Mind Over Cancer
Therapy can increase patients' quality of life, boost their immune system and help them live longer.

Cancer affects nearly all of us. Yet few people realize that psychology can play an important role in cancer's treatment. Psychologists can help patients and families reduce emotional distress, enhance communication among patients, families and oncologists, reduce treatment's side effects and improve patients' quality of life. There's even evidence that psychological interventions may strengthen patients' immune systems, perhaps even helping them live longer.

Three Months To Live

Kip Little was supposed to die a decade ago. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986, she was stunned. "I spent my lunch hours working out. I ate good things. I was a health nut,"—says Little, a former high-school counselor and physical education teacher in a Toronto suburb. "How could this happen to me?"

Following her mastectomy, a chance encounter led Little to a psychologist at the Ontario Cancer Institute. Working with him and other breast cancer patients, she transformed her life. Together they met weekly to discuss their feelings, learn meditation and other relaxation techniques, and explore ways of coping with grief, depression, pain and fear.

Finding the program was a lifesaver, says Little, now a 60-year-old retiree in Burlington, Ontario. "It was the skills I learned that got me through—and continue to get me through," she says. When her cancer returned in 1990, a physician gave her only three months or so to live. She rejected further physical treatment and instead intensified her practice of meditation and similar activities targeting her mental state. Today she's cancer-free.

Like Little, most people don't automatically associate psychology with cancer treatment. But they should. While psychologists can obviously help patients cope with the devastation of a potentially life-threatening diagnosis, their role often goes far beyond that. Psychologists teach patients how to endure the often difficult treatments that may represent their only chance at life. They improve patients' quality of life and help family members cope. As Kip Little's story illustrates, psychologists may even help extend patients' lives beyond conventional medicine's greatest hopes.

Living Longer?

Psychiatrist David Spiegel, M.D., of the Stanford University School of Medicine, launched the debate about whether psychological interventions can lengthen lives in 1989, when he published a now-classic paper describing his work with breast cancer patients.

In the study, patients came together in weekly group therapy sessions to express their feelings about cancer and receive support from fellow victims. When Spiegel followed up a decade later, he discovered that patients who had participated in the sessions had survived an average of 18 months longer than those in the control group. Years of controversy have followed, with researchers trying—with mixed results—to replicate Spiegel's findings.

Now the psychologist who treated Kip Little believes he has the first real evidence that psychological interventions can indeed prolong lives. Like many others, Alastair J. Cunningham, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute, has spent years trying to determine group therapy's actual impact.

At first, he had little luck. Using an intervention he calls "Spiegelplus," Cunningham led 30 women with metastatic breast cancer through nine months of weekly group therapy. Patients also completed assignments such as attending religious services. An addition all 36 patients received a workbook and audiotapes designed to teach them relaxation and mental imaging. To his disappointment, Cunningham could detect no difference in survival rates between the two groups when he checked five years later.

Then Cunningham realized that a randomized study wasn't the right approach. Although randomized studies are the gold standard of scientific inquiry, they hide individuals and their behavior behind general findings.

To find out how his intervention affected individuals, Cunningham substituted a correlative design for a study of 22 patients with various kinds of supposedly incurable cancer. After asking experts to predict each patient's life-span, Cunningham and his team painstakingly gathered data on each participant's attitudes and behaviors as they participated in an intervention along the lines of the earlier experiment.

The result? Cunningham found that patients like Kip Little and other "superstars"—people who worked the hardest at transforming themselves psychologically—lived at least three times longer than predicted. With one or two exceptions, the least active died right on schedule. "It makes sense to me that the people who live longer are those who make substantial psychological changes," says Cunningham. "Of course, only a few do that."

Cunningham's discovery won't stop the debate about psychological interventions' impact on patients' life spans. Scientists still don't even know how cancer develops. "For years we've been puzzling around the labs trying to figure out what regulates cancer," says Cunningham, noting that the endocrine or immune systems may play a role. "Not much is known yet."

Enduring Treatment

What is known is that psychologists can teach patients how to manage their treatment more effectively.

Haber helps her patients cope with the emotions cancer elicits, which may include terror, depression, or even relief for patients who have been told their malaise was all in their heads. But, Haber insists, it's the other issues she tackles that are even more crucial for cancer patients.

For instance, Haber also helps her patients weigh decisions that can be a matter of life or death. She teaches them how to talk more effectively with doctors and get the information they need. She'll even set up "buddy groups" that take on everyday chores patients are too weak to manage.

Psychologists can also help patients comply with their treatment regimens, teaching them techniques for managing side effects that may not only affect their quality of life but can actually interfere with their treatment. After all, chemotherapy can't work if a patient can't keep the drugs down. To help patients control nausea and other side effects, Haber teaches patients self-hypnosis and other techniques designed to help them relax.

Pain management is especially important. "The experience of pain is very subjective," says Haber. "If you break your leg, it's always going to be painful. But if you're panic-stricken about going to the hospital, that exacerbates the pain."

Take Patrick Riordan, for example. Riordan, special assistant to the president of the University of South Florida in Tampa, discovered he had lung cancer in 1998. As he prepared for chemotherapy, a psychologist at the university's H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center taught him how to use guided imagery to control discomfort. The psychologist quizzed Riordan about places dear to him, then created a tape that allowed Riordan to take a guided trip into a nearby park all in his mind.

The cassette became invaluable when Riordan's radiation therapy burned his esophagus. In agony; Riordan was barely able to eat or even swallow. "I could close my eyes and go to this beautiful park with lots of palms, cypresses and alligators," says Riordan, who took the trip so often he could soon go there without the tape's help. "I'd just think about the fact that there was a great chain of ecology that had created that environment over eons, that I was part of it, and that I didn't need to be so focused on my present discomfort."

Today Riordan, 54, is in remission. And he's back to putting hot sauce on his pizzas.

Helping Families

Patients aren't the only ones who can benefit from psychologists' help. In fact, researcher Laurel L. Northouse, Ph.D., R.N., a professor at the University of Michigan's School of Nursing in Ann Arbor, has discovered that family members are often more distressed than actual patients.

In one study, for example, Northouse discovered that spouses of colon cancer patients were more upset than the patients. Northouse also found that husbands of breast cancer patients experience just as much distress as their spouses and have an even harder time coping with their work and family obligations. Yet family members are often overlooked, says Northouse.

And their distress can take a toll on patients, warns psychologist Mary Jo Kupst, Ph.D., a professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. In research that followed children for a decade after their cancer diagnoses, Kupst found that the best predictor of how well the children fared was how well their parents adjusted to their children's illness.

Pediatric oncology wards have done a good job of meeting the needs of what are sometimes called "secondary" patients, says Kupst. Psychologists can help parents manage stress and help siblings overcome fear and feelings of isolation. Some psychologists actually encourage family members to become active participants in patients' care.

Using a technique pioneered by William H. Redd, Ph.D., now associate director of the Ruttenberg Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai/New York University Medical Center, psychologists teach worried parents or spouses how to soothe their family members through hypnosis, relaxation or even something as simple as a video game. According to Redd, doing so helps channel relatives' anxiety and makes them feel useful.

1 Temmuz 2011 Cuma

Recognizing Your Attractions of Deprivation


Why do our most intense romantic passions so often end in disaster? Why do these "attractions of deprivation" feel just like true love, even as they lead us off the edge of a cliff? There is an insight which can help us solve this mystery, but it's one we don't get taught: Our most painful attractions actually arise from our deepest intimacy gifts, and these gifts are the brick and mortar of a love that can survive in this often treacherous world. This post will teach you how to recognize and avoid your own attractions of deprivation, but, even more important, it will help you name the intimacy gifts they conceal.

All of us are attracted to a particular type that stops us dead in our tracks: a physical type, an emotional type, and a personality type. These "iconic" attractions make us weak in the knees, and they trigger our insecurities as well as seismic longings. How does that happen?
Harville Hendrix' model of the Imago explains that they draw us in part because they embody the worst emotional characteristics of our primary caregivers! Even though we may be adults, we often have unresolved childhood hurts due to betrayal, manipulation, abuse and neglect from our caregivers.

Unconsciously, we seek healing of these wounds in our intimate relationships. But that means we're most attracted to people who can wound us in just the way we were wounded in our childhood! Our psyche seeks to recreate the scene of the original crime, and then save us by changing its ending. The child in us believes that if the original perpetrators -- or their current replacements -- finally change their minds, apologize, or make up for that terrible rupture of trust, we can escape from our prison of unworthiness. Our conscious self is drawn to the positive qualities we yearn for, but our unconscious draws us to the qualities which hurt us the most as children.

What lies at the heart of this inexorable hunger for healing? The answer lies in the deep strata of our emotional self, where we create what I call our "myth of lost love." As we grow beyond the relative paradise of infancy, each of us crashes into the painful wall of our parents' dysfunctions, and the cruelty of the outside world. This experience feels like a deep loss; a betrayal of what we know life should be like. So we create a "myth of lost love" to explain why this loss occurred. Like any powerful myth, this one frames our understanding of how life--and love--works. As we grow into adults, it becomes the mold that shapes our love lives.

The myth of lost love has two aspects. First, it articulates how the world is unsafe, and what we should do about that. It creates rules for us to follow to protect ourselves from new assaults upon our heart. The second part of our myth is equally destructive. It explains our parents' limitations in the way that makes the most sense to a kid --"It's my fault, and in some essential way, I'm unlovable." And then it continues its path of damage by articulating the flaws which make us unworthy of love. It homes in on our most vulnerable, needy, and nonconforming qualities and tells that us that they are to blame for our loss of love.

Most of us will be in battle with that voice for the rest of our lives, trying to disprove it even as we stubbornly remain loyal to it.

When we find someone who awakens the unconscious memory of lost love, our buried hopes are awakened-in spades. Yet if we choose a relationship of deprivation, our hopes are likely to be crushed once again.

The part that's both heartbreaking and hopeful is that, in most cases, the very qualities we are ashamed of are the ones that can best attract the love we need! I call them "core gifts." It's important to note that these gifts are not the same as talents or strengths. They are simply our areas of deepest sensitivity and feeling, and they are usually tied to our most passionate, creative and loving qualities. But gifts aren't easy things to have. People take advantage of them. Our gifts have an intensity which can make us behave irrationally; a sensitivity that can bring us to our knees. The truth is, our gifts get us in trouble again and again in our lives. If we don't understand our gifts and the way they've influenced our history, then in some essential way, we won't understand the deep story-line of our lives! (More about core gifts in future posts.)

As long as we keep following our attractions of deprivation, these gifts will remain disempowered, and so will we. So how do we stop following these wildly compelling attractions? The first step is to recognize them for what they are. The second step is to identify the core gifts they conceal. This important exercise will help you to do both.


I use this very helpful exercise in my workshops. It can help you identify the negative, withholding qualities that keep drawing you in. With this knowledge, you'll have a rudimentary map of your path to healing intimacy-complete with warning signs to protect you from once again choosing pain.

STEP ONE: Take a sheet of paper and write at the top: "My attractions of deprivation." List all the traits of your former partners which hurt you, frustrated you, or made you feel unseen or unacknowledged. Don't worry if the fault might have been partly yours. Write them down anyway. Include physical traits that are sexy but also negative, like a cocky swagger or an angry, tight mouth.
Tip: If you're having a hard time identifying your attractions of deprivation, ask your closest friends; they've probably wished they could tell you for years!

STEP TWO: Take a second sheet of paper and write on top, "A portrait of my attractions of deprivation." Read through your notes from step one, and put together a profile of the types of people who draw you in and cause you pain. For example:

"I'm attracted to bad boys. Guys who have no problem expressing their anger or their needs. I'm talking about angry people. Guys who don't seem to need me like I need them. Guys who don't need the validation I need. A lot of them have drunk too much. Some of them-at least three-have cheated on me. All of them were sexy in their self-confidence. Most resented my successes, or at least couldn't celebrate big accomplishments with me. They were critical of me, and I ended up feeling guilty a lot of the time. I'm attracted to guys with a sort of disdainful look on their face. A bit of arrogance turns me on."

STEP THREE: Underneath that part, write a new subtitle, "My gifts." Remember that our greatest wounds point to our greatest gifts. Write down which of your gifts felt degraded, minimized, or not fully appreciated in these relationships. What parts of you did you most yearn for your partner to understand, appreciate, and make room for? Those are your core gifts. This information is invaluable, and here's why: In all likelihood, these are the very gifts that you haven't been able to fully honor, which is why you allowed them to be neglected, minimized or even abused. These gifts lie at the cutting edge of your growth. They are the qualities in your personality that you need to embrace and express. Not to mention protect--which is why it's imperative that you choose people who honor and treasure them as well. These are your relationships of inspiration, not deprivation.

Take a few minutes to read what you wrote, and notice your feelings as you let it sink in. Remember not to judge yourself; this knowledge is exactly what will set you free from future replays, and open the door to a relationship where you are loved for who you really are.