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Enhancing cathartic experiences through music

One look at a person who has a difficult experience in his memory, actualized in the present, is enough to determine the presence of this experience. Usually, the person tries to hide the emotion escaping to realization, perhaps interpreting it as negative.

But the tensions that arise in a person who suppresses his emotions help to destroy the “primary essence”, which increases the alienation of most people from themselves and others (Lowen, 1975). According to Lowen, the “primary essence” is the pleasure of life, the source of which is the freedom of movement and the lack of tension in the body.

In the modern world of “distress” and stimulants, the acquired automatism of control of bodily stresses does not allow to have enough freedom of movement for timely response of bodily stresses. In many cases, therapeutic practices remain the most effective methods, which include elements of catharsis(from the Greek. catharsis — cleansing).

According to Freud, the cathartic method is a preliminary stage of psychoanalysis. Freud associated catharsis with the fact that the client re-experiences traumatic events of childhood, and can respond to those feelings that were suppressed. Initially, catharsis was associated with the designation of the nature of the impact of ancient tragedy on man. The psychological meaning of the concept of “catharsis” is the emotional shock experienced by a person under the influence of a work of art and can lead to the fact that he is freed from minor experiences and thoughts and experiences a state of inner purification.

By itself, emotionally significant memory can give the amount of energy and the intensity of tension, which is sometimes enough to “burn” the energy of negative memories. But in cases of particularly deep “packaging” of negative emotions, the release of the energy of the experience itself can be problematic. In such cases, the use of facilitation elements is necessary and gives a pronounced positive effect.

Contactless methods of facilitating catharsis, we highlight as particularly effective, specially selected music. In special cases, the music can be specially written taking into account the circumstances and individual inclinations of the patient or group.

An example of musical facilitation of catharsis is the so-called “Funeral March”. Played as sad as possible, it enhances the experience of loss, “bringing” even those participants in the funeral procession, who have not yet had time to immerse themselves in the feeling of grief that fell on them. That is, music can move the situation in the direction that is necessary in the circumstances at the moment. In holotropic therapy, which S. groff uses in his work, “the powerful effect of hyperventilation itself is further enhanced by the use of inducing music” (groff, 1985).

The chemical reaction will follow a different path if a catalyst is added at some point. The universe will evolve differently if in a critical situation is not enough handfuls of electrons (Kozlov, Mike, 2004). We can add that nasty “heavy” emotion can be suppressed by the usual mechanisms, if time will not sound and will not pick up the emotion appropriate music.

By and large, music influences and saturates the emotional plan of the person. That is, in practice, it can be argued that music is an emotion, a stream of emotions. To strengthen the cathartic experiences that lead to the purification of the emotional plane of a person from the negative States that have arisen for certain reasons, it is necessary to correctly direct the flow of emotions present in the music. It should be taken into account that there is the fact that the situation of experiencing a certain emotion is already in development. Music should only pick up and increase the intensity of a particular emotion or directed emotional flow.

The comparison may be the presence of sexual arousal, which can remain in the body for a long time, restrained by volitional effort, with the impossibility of immediate resolution. But to realize and release from the tension caused by the desire for sexual pleasure, it is enough to catch the trend expressed by bodily manifestations and bring the tension to the limit, followed by catharsis and muscle relaxation.

In the case of music, it is also necessary to capture trends in the development of emotionality of the situation. The emotion, as a wave can roll, and subside for a while, but then begin to grow again, and at this point it can be picked up and dispersed for a steeper and longer splash. The peculiarity of living systems is that they develop by leaps when a relatively uniform, more or less predictable motion reaches the point of bifurcation – the choice of the further trajectory. And the way in which the system will develop depends both on itself and on the flows of energy and information surrounding it (Kozlov, Mikov, 2004).

Music is one of the types of linear unfolding of information. A musical work can have a plot and is built according to the laws of a literary work: the plot, development, culmination and denouement. Such works are the best means to achieve our goals. But, most often in psychotherapy to collections of musical works, arrayed in the sequence, which provides a gradual increase in emotional intensity in patients reaching to extreme stress, followed by a cathartic emotional splash.

Splash, in our opinion, is possible in the case of the passage of the procedural sequence of States, creating conditions for the cessation of suppression of emotions and the correct response in the situation of a therapeutic session.

• An important condition for catharsis is the presence of an actualized experience.

• Music with its tonality and tempo-rhythmic structure affects a person “for a living”, increasing the intensity of tension in the suppression systems, which is reflected in the increased muscle tone (shifted eyebrows, clenched fists, frequent breathing, crossing of arms and legs, lowered head, etc.).

• The increasing emotionality of music contributes to the early achievement of the limit of the possibilities of containment of external reactions in a particular person(the appearance of tremors in the hotel parts or throughout the body, convulsions, involuntary fine motor skills of the body, etc.).

• Holding with music experiences of high intensity, capable of “opening” the protection and give rise to emotions(sobbing, mumbling, voice manifestations, etc.).

• Possible undulating melodic musical lilt, the maximum oscillating the emotions of the patient and breaking through the range of protection, providing rapid emotional outburst, followed by external reactions(crying, convulsions, hysteria, chaotic movements, etc.).

The depth of the cathartic experience can be measured not only by the motor activity of the body, but also by the duration of the experience of “cleansing” from heavy and negative suppressed emotions. Such an experience can be very emotional in the inner world of a person, but external reactions are more like a trance. The result of this catharsis are the intellectual enlightenment(Samadhi), not so much because of removed muscle blocks(which may be marginally represented in the body), how many ideological constraints and moral inhibitions and to freedom of thought, patterns of thinking and attitude to life, imposed by society and gender. The motivating force for the process of purification and emancipation of thought can be “thoughtful music”, as R. Walsh calls it: “Music, with its remarkable ability to evoke emotions and excite the soul, has long been a source of inspiration in religions around the world. The Bible tells us that two thousand years ago, when the Jewish prophet Elisha was looking for inspiration, he shouted: “Now bring me a minstrel.” And when gueslist played the harp, that the hand of the Lord touched Elisha”(Walsh, 1999).

V. Reich considered three main bodily biological excitations – fear, hatred and sexual arousal, which were manifested by breakthroughs of vegetative energy when working with the muscle shell(Reich, 1969). It is possible that these are the most familiar and recognizable human emotions. They are easily recognized due to the fact that they are given to vivid sensations in the body. Such an emotion as fear will be immediately recognized and can be determined by a person of any age, social and religious affiliation.

Of course, people with more subtle mental organization have a much larger range of emotional shades available to recognition. Considering emotion as a mental reflection of the actual state of needs (Rubinstein), it is possible to approach more precisely the question of the choice of musical material, which should also, to meet our goals, to create an emotional field of manifestation of the actual needs of self-realization and perspective unfolding… in mental reality.

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