From The Conversation recently:
As the 17th-century English playwright William Congreve said: “Music has charms to soothe a savage breast.” It is known that listening to music can significantly enhance our health and general feelings of well-being.
Music attracts and holds our attention and is emotionally engaging, particularly if our relationship with the piece is strong. Our favourite music is likely to have stronger positive effects than tracks we don’t like or know. Researchers have demonstrated that the music we prefer has greater positive effects on pain tolerance and perception, reduces anxiety and increases feelings of control over pain. In older people with dementia, listening to preferred music has been linked with decreasing agitated behaviour.
There is also much to study, however. We may know that the music we like can help with the negative symptoms of pain, but key mechanisms are still not fully understood. If being emotionally engaged with music is key to maximising our distraction in this regard, there are myriad factors affecting our emotional relationship with music that we need to understand.
These include the personal meaning and memories that the music conjures for a particular individual, the context the listener is in and factors such as age, gender, occupation and identity.” (emphasis added)
Safety in music
Music can be a powerful SIM, and as the emphasised section above highlights, like any DIM or SIM, it is the context of the music/listener- that will determine the DIM or SIM status.
We’re probably at the edge of the science here, but, we often suggest that people seek music that they enjoyed before their troubles started – to access memories/neurotags/states of being that are ‘uncontaminated’ by persistent pain states.
Equally, non-preferred music, or even music that is a DIM for an individual, can be used to add challenge to a graded exposure program. We’ve had some clever clinicians tell us about the power of just changing a radio station as their patients undertake exercise.
Finding SIMs in the lyrics
One of our favourite sayings at NOI comes from the lyrics of Bob Marley’s Trenchtown Rock
One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain
So of course we had to ‘hide’ a reference on Sarah-Bella, can you find it?
…when it hits you feel no pain
Finally, here’s a bit of Bob to enjoy, live at the One Love Peace Concert in 1978
We love hearing stories of musical SIMs – there’s a comments section below – feel free to use it.