Music can be one of the great therapies. Throughout recorded history in all parts of the world, music has been used as therapy. In fact, of all factors that have been investigated, probably none enhances the Life Energy and reduces stress more effectively than music. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the fact that at the age of 70, when some 50 percent of American males are already dead, some 80 percent of musical conductors are still alive, healthy, and productive. The tremendous therapeutic power of music has always been recognized, and it has been the subject of many discourses, from the time of Pythagoras to Moses Maimonides and beyond. To me, as to Pythagoras, music is not mere entertainment or amusement (the absence of the muse), but therapy. It is one of the most potent modalities that exists for actuating what the Greeks called thymos, what Hippocrates called the vis medicatrix naturae, the healing power that exists within us all: Life Energy.
There are still many cultures in which there has been no divorce between music and healing. For example, in many so-called primitive societies, the healing shaman is nearly always a musician, and music and incantation are as important as all the other aspects of his profession. The only vestige we see of this in our society is the use of music in religious ceremonies, a custom which dates back to a time before the separation in our society of medicine and religion. Thus throughout the centuries and today, over and above the usual satisfaction or the more physical enjoyment we may derive from music, there is another quality, and it is this other quality, this Life Energy enhancing quality to which I have devoted a major part of my research over the years.
I have tested many thousands of phonograph recordings made over a period of more than eighty years, and have found that almost most examples have been therapeutic, often highly so. In 1979 this changed. I suddenly found that I was not achieving the same therapeutic results as before, that playing records of the same compositions to the same patients was producing a completely contrary effect! Instead of their stress being reduced and their Life Energy being actuated, the opposite was occurring! For instance, music that I had long used to promote sleep now seemed to be actually aggravating the insomnia. I found in one case that instead of the music helping a patient withdraw from tranquilizers, it seemed to increase his need for them. Special tapes for businesspeople to use during their rest periods seemed suddenly to increase rather than reduce their stress. These findings were very alarming....