Proposal on the Effects of Music on People With Schizophrenia

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Music therapy is a psychotherapeutic method that uses musical interaction as a means of communication and expression. The aim of the therapy is to help people with serious mental illness to develop relationships and to address issues they may not be able to using words alone.

Relevance of Music Therapy

Everyday, music serves us faithfully, playing an integral part of our public and private lives. It is vastly used in arenas of national importance (e.g. National anthems) and personal significance (e.g. wedding songs). In many normal applications it supports or transcends spoken word. It therefore cannot be seen as simply a vehicle for the emotions but also as a complex creation of the intellect. Music therapy is found in a wide sphere of places. From medical and psychiatric hospitals to prisons and residential homes, this precious form of therapy may be seen in operation. The range of instruments used is also immense. The therapist may use his or her own instrument which may be a piano or woodwind and a variety of percussion instruments are for use either by the therapist or the client. These include delicate bells and shakers, gongs, drums, cymbals, xylophones, lyre or guitar and are used as appropriate depending on the client.


A proposal will be presented to the Smithsonian Institute Annual Songs of American Heritage Festival Exhibit for the acceptance of music therapy for individuals with chronic schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder that affects multiple psychological processes that include: hallucinations, process of thought, delusions, emotion, behavior, concentration, and judgment. These psychological and behavioral processes constitute a variety of impairments in social and occupational functioning. Wing and Brown (1970) suggest that these psychological and behavioral processes predispose people with schizophrenia to social withdrawal, which allows the patient to have a low stimulation environment that can lead to further deterioration of the brain.

The following musical instruments will be available: piano, guitar, bongo drum, congo drum, bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, tambourine, cowbell, jambe, triangle, harmonicas, xylophone, and drumsticks.

Music therapy is a form of social skills training used to promote active participation, emotional expression and demonstration, promotion of self-esteem, and improvement of motor performance (Wen-Ying, Zheng, Yong-Zhen, Hong-Yi, & Bio, 1998). The role of the music therapist to the client is to establish a gentle, safe disposition, which does not dispirit the client (Tyson, 1979). Silverman (2003) described a song contingency program in place for one client by a music therapist. The program was setup so that if the client acted appropriately toward his treatment team, he would be allowed 15 minutes of songwriting time. During the private songwriting time the musical therapist and one healthcare staff member supervised the client. The music therapist does not share his thoughts or ideas because it can alter the client's lyrics, therefore the lyrics are solely the client's representation of thoughts.

Once permission is granted from the three separate psychiatric hospitals and the University of Denver's IRB Board a psychiatrist will ask each patient with chronic schizophrenia if they are interested in participating in music therapy. If the person agrees to participate in music therapy they will be assessed to ensure that the duration of chronic schizophrenia has lasted longer than one year, anti psychotic drugs administered in the past six months without symptoms of schizophrenia diminishing, no physical disease, and an interest in receiving music therapy, an explanation of what music therapy is will be provided if necessary.

The effect of music therapy on the reduction of negative symptoms of schizophrenia has been noted in many studies, as previously stated. The reduction of negative symptoms produces a...
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