Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Music as container
by Ready, Trisha, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2011, 370; 3486447
Abstract (Summary)

This psychoanalytic case study-based dissertation focuses on a researcher listening to participant-selected music at a psychiatric facility with participants experiencing early onset psychosis. The eight participants were between the ages of 18 and 35, and participants were within a five-year frame of a first psychotic break. The participants were diagnosed with one of the following conditions: Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform, Schizoaffective Disorder, Psychosis, NOS, or Bi-Polar Disorder, with Psychotic Features. Each participant met with the researcher for ten 30-minute music listening sessions. The participants were asked, but not required, to respond to musical selections and to explain when they changed musical selections during the course of the session.

The literature review explores historic uses of music in psychological treatment and the extensive connection between music and emotions: Music is considered by many theorists and researchers to be humans' first language. Thus, some early implicit memories may be more accessible through music than speech. This may be especially true with people who struggle with alexithymia or people with early childhood trauma. The literature review also includes a brief historic survey of theories and approaches to the psychoanalytic conception and treatment of psychosis, primarily relying on the work and clinical reflections of Bion and his contemporaries.

One main objective of the music listening research was to discover whether music might help facilitate the containment, metabolization (i.e., Bion), and articulation of affect for patients experiencing psychosis. The ability to articulate and hold affect was defined generally as the patient's ability to give symbolic expression, in terms of form, shape, or gesture to his or her feelings during and after ten sessions of listening to music. Expression of affect was measured using the following rubrics: a pre- and post-intervention Rorschach Assessment, interviews, observation notes, and expressive materials generated during research.

This writer discovered that music did indeed serve a therapeutic function of containment and expression for participants experiencing early onset psychosis. In addition the participant's musical selections served as a gateway and as a mediator for learning about the participant's inner world, and how the participant used musicians and music as forms of communication.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bishop, Allen
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Music therapy, Psychosis, Schozophrenia
Publication Number: 3486447
ISBN: 978-1-267-04460-0
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