Music Therapy: An Ancient Healing Technique

Seven years ago, Peter Fisher (name changed), a 60-year-old physician in Ohio, was driving to work when he recognised the symptoms of an impending stroke: bright flashing lights, numbness, headache.

Calmly, he pulled into a petrol pump, leaned on his horn and asked the terrified attendant to call an ambulance to take him to a specific hospital. The only movement he had was his eyelids, and his only means of communication was blinking once for yes, twice for no.

A few weeks later, Peter’s desperate wife placed a call to Don Campbell, a composer, music researcher, healer and author who we have also quoted in the book. He suggested that they play as much Mozart as possible in Peter’s room, and a few weeks after that, he paid a personal visit.

“I sat on the right side of the bed, because the right ear is the quickest way to the language centres of the brain, and began to sing and simultaneously tap each syllable into his hand,” recalls Campbell. “For the next three hours, I would sing and tap for five minutes, then rest for 10 minutes.”

At the end of the session, the two men were actually communicating with a codified system by which Fisher would indicate letters with eye movements.

This experience, which Campbell terms integrated auditory patterning, enabled Peter to begin to reconnect with the outside world. A few months later he was fitted with a light-emitting cap, which activates computer keys when it is directed at them. Now in a wheelchair, Peter writes journals and keeps in touch with his family and former colleagues.

Ironically, three years after participating in Peter’s rehabilitation, Campbell, then a robust 43-year-old, learned that he had a potentially fatal blood clot in an artery just below his brain. He was given three options: undergo immediate surgery with no guarantee of a positive outcome; be admitted to the hospital for six weeks for hourly monitoring; or simply wait a few days and see what happens.

Campbell, who’d spent 10 years investigating the effects of sound on the body, was quite knowledgeable about therapeutic uses of music. So he decided to pass on the surgery and hospitalisation and simply hum. Fearful that a more powerful sound might bring on a stroke, he hummed quietly for three to four minutes at a time, up to seven times a day. He did this for three weeks, at the same time meditating on healing images.

He went back for a second brain scan, and when his doctor saw the results, he was speechless: The blood clot had shrunk from more than an inch and a half in length to an eighth of an inch, and Campbell was proclaimed out of danger.

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