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The Use of Music in Psychedelic (LSD) Psychotherapy

Helen L. Bonny, RMT, MME, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Journal of Music Therapy,
Vol. IX (1972) : 64-87 Copyright (c) 1972 by The National Association for Music Therapy, Inc.

full article at this link http://www.csp.org/practices/entheogens/docs/bonny-music.html

Figure 2: Selected Recordings for use in (LSD) Psychotherapy Sessions:
Beethoven: Symphony #5 CS 6619,
John Coltrane: A Love Supreme LIP A-77


The group of research scientists at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center (MPRC)
who work with LSD and other psychedelic drugs as agents of therapeutic intervention for patients with
alcoholism, narcotic addiction and psychological distress associated with terminal cancer employ a specific type of drug therapy called psychedelic peak psychotherapy (Pahnke et a], 1970).
"Psychedelic peak" refers to the type of transcendental or cosmic experience that can occur during the session, and "psychotherapy" refers to the human interaction that is prerequisite to personal growth and session preparation.


Because of the all-pervasive qualities of music, statements about its specific use can best be accepted in the light of empirical evidence. An example is the use of music in conjunction with ingestion of drugs in primitive cultures (Nettl, 1956). A recent return to similar use has occurred in the United States culture with the introduction of psychedelic drugs and, more particularly, as the use of these drugs relates to therapeutic procedures.

The team of therapists at MPRC have experimented with use of music in more than 600 drug sessions during a period of several years and agree that music is a very effective stimulus and complement to drug action. A recent study by Gaston and Eagle (1970) on the function of music in LSD therapy concluded that the presence of music is much preferable to its absence as rated by patient preference and treatment results. Let us consider first why music is effective, and second, what function it serves in the psychedelic drug session.

Music complements the therapeutic objectives in five interrelated ways:

1) by helping the patient relinquish usual controls and enter more fully into his inner world of experience;
2) by facilitating the release of intense emotionality;
3) by contributing toward a peak experience;

4) by providing continuity in an experience of timelessness;
5) by directing and structuring the experience.


Six major psychological characteristics of this experience are as follows:


1. A sense of unity or oneness with All
(positive ego transcendence, loss of usual sense of self without loss of consciousness):
2. Transcendence of time and space:
3. Deeply felt positive mood (joy, peace, love):
4. Sense of awesomeness, reverence and wonder:
5. Meaningfulness of psychological and/or philosophical insight:
6. Ineffability (sense of difficulty in communicating the experience by verbal description)
(Pahnke, 1969)

Quotes from Patients.
Ex. 11. "The music was really taking me now . . . the cycles (were) getting higher and deeper and I was soaring and delving. The images were gothic with vaulting arches and stone; and then I was thrust to the very heights, into the presence of God."

Ex. 13. . . . that everything that has been in the music, the deep chords represents eternity as a classical composer must have experienced it and that there is a grandeur of all of creation from its beginning to its culmination of which we are all a part, and the "I" is no longer important—the whole heavenly host is joined in being swept up or lifted up into the light

Ex. 23. I was aware that in ordinary musical listening one only experiences a fleeting feeling response to the music,
and it is all condensed and experienced quickly, whereas under LSD, the experience was very drawn out and its particular parts could be experienced.

Ex. 24. "The most beautiful array of fabrics and trimmings in fantastic inter-weaving of designs and in delicate colors of pastel to more intense in hue followed the inter-weaving movements of the music—visualizations of the voice timbre ever changing in complex and unusual ways. . . I began to see in the fantastically beautiful forms, so complex and rich, a value in the many intricacies and complexities of life.

I came to appreciate both the simple and the complex and to desire one and then the other. Realization came that life would indeed be dull if one limited one's appreciation to any one form of creation. In truth, complexity leads eventually to simplicity, and simplicity to complexity in a never ending cosmic display of increasing delight and change. If one does not limit or stop the process, one can be intimate with dazzling creative newness, every day, endlessly."

..... (snippage) .......

7. It is conjecture on the part of those who work with the peak-producing drugs that certain musical selections have seemed to be written specifically for that experience. The interesting question arises as to whether the composer has indeed experienced the altered or transcendent state as inspiration for, or during the writing of, that particular composition.

Figure 2: Selected Recordings
for use in (LSD) Psychotherapy Sessions:

Beethoven: Symphony #5 CS 6619,
Coltrane: A Love Supreme LIP A-77

REFERENCES

Bonny, H. Preferred records for use in LSD therapy. Unpublished report,
Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, Baltimore, Maryland, 1969.
Colbert, J. On the musical effect. The Psychiatric Quarterly, 1963, 37 (3), 429.
Copland, A. Music and imagination. New York: Mentor, 1952.
Gaston, E. T. Foundations of music in therapy. In E. T. Gaston, ed., Music in
Therapy. New York: Macmillan, 1968.
Gaston, E. T. and Eagle, C. T., Jr. The function of music in LSD therapy for
alcoholic patients. Journal of Music Therapy, 1970 VII (1) 3.
Grof, S. Agony and ecstacy in psychiatric treatment: Theory and practice of
LSD psychotherapy. Palo Alto: Science and Behavior Books (to be published, 1972).
Kris, E. Psychoanalytic explorations in art. New York: International
Universities Press, 1962.
Kubie, S. and Margolin, S. The process of hypnotism and the nature of the
hypnotic state. American Journal of Psychiatry, July 1943-May 1944, 100, 611.
Langer, S. K. Philosophy in a new key. Mentor Book, The New American
Library, 1942.
Leuner, H. Guided affective imagery (GAI). American Journal of
Psychotherapy, January 1969, XXIII (1), 4.
Masserman, J. H. The practice of dynamic psychiatry. Philadelphia; Saunders, 1955.
Nettl, B. Aspects of primitive and folk music relevant to music therapy.
Music Therapy 1955. Lawrence, Kansas: AJ]en Press, 1956, 36.
Noy, P. The Psychodynamic meaning of music-Part IV. Journal of Music
Therapy, September 1967, IV (3), 81.
Pahnke, W. N. Psychedelic drugs and mystical experiences. In E. M. Pattison,
ed., Clinical psychiatry and religion, International Psychiatry Clinics, 5
(4), 149, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1969.
Pahnke, W. N.; Kurland, A. A.; Unger, S.; Savage, C., and Grof, S. The
experimental use of psychedelic (LSD) psychotherapy, Journal of the
American Medical Association, June 15, 1970, 212 (11), 1856.
Pratt, C. C. Music and the language of emotion. Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1952.
Taylor, 1. A. and Paperte, F. Current theory and research in the effects of
music on human behavior. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1958, 17, 251.
Teller, F. Musikgenuss and fahntasie. Imago, 1917, 5, 8.
 
 
Terrence McKenna notes that,

"The pro-psychedelic plant position is clearly an anti-drug position.

Drug dependencies are the result of habitual, unexamined and obsessive behavior;

these are precisely the tendencies that the psychedelics mitigate."


Another fact worth considering is that reading Medical journals or even the DEA website will disclose that Psychedelic compounds and plants are all classified as Counter-Addictive, (meaning that the effects of the drug itself discourage repeated indiscriminate use.)

There is a huge difference between advocating responsible psychedelic plant use for medical reasons, spiritual reasons or for inspiration, and advocating uncontrolled drug abuse.

 
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