- by Dave Siever of Mind Alive Inc.
Sound can have profound effects on people. Although sounds appear to be a personal experience, humans around the world are hard-wired to have similar experiences to certain sounds. The sound of chirping birds in a forest produces even harmonics and will be more relaxing than the sounds from a factory (odd harmonics), not just because of the associations people make with sounds of nature versus factories, but also because of the harmonic content. However, if a person has a fear of birds (ornithophobia), then chirping birds might be quite distressing. Skilled musicians today continue to purchase vacuum-tube pre-amplifiers because vacuum-tube amps generate even-harmonic distortion that is enjoyable to listen to, whereas transistors generate odd-harmonic distortion, which often “gets on the nerves.” Spooky sounds can make people feel anxious and scared, whereas up-tempo sounds can make people feel energetic and lively. Rock music has been shown to reduce an ADD child’s hyperactivity and improve the child’s ability to pay attention while studying (Cripe, 1986).
Dissociation is traditionally associated with pathology. However, dissociation can also have a good side to it. Dissociation occurs when we meditate, exercise, go biking, hiking, read a good book, take in a movie or enjoy a sporting event, because we get drawn into the present moment and dissociate from all of our daily worries, anxieties and the resulting unhealthy mental chatter. Several techniques such as dot staring and stimulus depression have been shown to induce dissociation (Leonard, Telch, & Harrington, 1999). Audioanalgesia using white noise and/or music has been shown to effectively increase pain threshold and pain tolerance during a dental procedure (Gardner & Licklider, 1959; Gardner, Licklider, & Weisz, 1960; Schermer, 1960; Monsey, 1960; Sidney, 1962; Morosko & Simmons, 1966). Regardless of the activity, this type of dissociation reduces our overall stress load and is healthy. In essence, when we focus on something, we dissociate from other things (Siever, 2000). The saying, “a change is as good as a rest,” has much more physiological truth to it than initially meets the eye. Auditory stimulation can be very dissociating. Almost anyone can be completely drawn into a favorite song and lose all track of life and stress around him or her. Slaves and prisoners have frequently used song as a means to dissociate from the stress of hardship and segregation.
Dental patients often suffer anxiety before and during dental appointments (Lazarus, 1966, Dewitt, 1966, Corah & Pantera, 1968). Of all the dental procedures, root canal (endodontic) therapy is the most feared (Morse & Chow, 1993). A study using visual entrainment (VE) to reduce anxiety during a root canal procedure found that by adding relaxing (dissociating) music, the anxiety was further reduced (Morse 1993). This study involved three groups of 10 subjects. The groups consisted of one group receiving 10 Hz AVE; a second group receiving 10 Hz AVE plus an alpha relaxation tape (developed by Shealy) simultaneously, and a control group (Figure 1). The study confirmed that the part of a root canal procedure that produces the greatest anxiety is the Novocaine™ injection, pushing average heart rate up to 107 bpm. The group using VE had an average heart rate of 93 bpm, while the group that was further dissociated (VE and music), had an average heart rate of 84 bpm. Figure 1. Heart Rate during a Root Canal Procedure
Auditory Entrainment (AE) CDs and audio downloads for the purposes of auditory entrainment (AE) are becoming very popular. There are presently upwards of 100 producers of “entraining” audio for relaxation, cognition, sleep, performance, etc. Auditory entrainment is exempt from USFDA, Health Canada and European Community Regulations as a medical device in its pure form unless...