Strengthening cathartic experiences with music
One glance at a person who has in his memory a painful experience, actualized in the present, is enough to determine the presence of this experience. Usually, a person tries to hide an emotion that is struggling towards realization, perhaps interpreting it as negative.
But the tensions that arise in a person who suppresses his emotions help to destroy the “primary essence”, which increases the alienation peculiar to most people from themselves and others (Lowen, 1975). According to Lowen, the “primary essence” is the pleasure of life, the source of which is freedom of movement and the absence of tension in the body.
In the modern world of “distress” and stimulants, the acquired automatism of the control of bodily stresses does not allow for sufficient freedom of movement for the timely response of bodily stresses. In many cases of therapeutic practice, the methods that include elements of catharsis (from the Greek. Catharsis – purification) remain the most effective.
According to Freud, the cathartic method is the preliminary stage of psychoanalysis. Freud associated catharsis with the fact that the client relives the traumatic events of childhood, and can respond to those feelings that were suppressed. Initially, catharsis was associated with the designation of the nature of the impact of the ancient tragedy on man. The psychological meaning of the concept of “catharsis” is in emotional shock, experienced by a person under the influence of works of art on him and can lead to the fact that he is freed from insignificant experiences and thoughts and experiences a state of inner cleansing.
In itself, an emotionally significant memory can give that amount of energy and that intensity of tension, which is sometimes enough to “burn” the energy of a negative memory. But in cases of particularly deep “packing” of negative emotions, the release of the energy of the experience itself can be problematic. In such cases, the use of facilitating elements of the impact is necessary and giving a pronounced positive effect.
From non-contact methods of facilitating catharsis, we single out as particularly effective, specially selected music. In special cases, the music can be specially written taking into account the circumstances and individual inclinations of the patient or group.
An example of musical facilitation of catharsis is the so-called Funeral March. Played as sadly as possible, it reinforces the experience of loss, “bringing” even those participants in the funeral procession who did not even have time to plunge into the feeling of grief that fell on them. That is, music can move the situation in the direction that is needed in the circumstances at the moment. In holotropic therapy, which S. Groff uses in his work, “the powerful effect of hyperventilation itself is further enhanced by the use of stimulating music” (Groff, 1985).
A chemical reaction will proceed along a different path, if at a certain moment a catalyst is added. The Universe will evolve differently if in a critical situation there are not enough handfuls of electrons (Kozlov, Maykov, 2004). From myself, we add that an unpleasant, “heavy” emotion can be suppressed by familiar mechanisms, if the corresponding music does not sound in time and pick up this emotion.
By and large, music influences and imbues precisely the emotional plan of a person. That is, in practice, it can be argued that music is an emotion, a stream of emotions. To enhance the cathartic experiences that lead to the purification of a person’s emotional plan from negative states that have arisen for certain reasons, it is necessary to correctly direct the flow of emotions present in the music. It is necessary to take into account what is meant by the fact that the situation of experiencing a certain emotion is already in development. Music should only pick up and increase the intensity of a particular emotion or directional emotional flow.
Comparison can be the presence of sexual arousal, which can remain in the body for a long enough time, restrained by volitional effort, with the impossibility of immediate resolution. But for realization and release from the tension caused by the desire for sexual pleasure, it is enough to catch the tendency expressed by bodily manifestations and bring the tension to the limit, followed by catharsis and muscle relaxation.
In the case of music, it is also necessary to capture the trends in the development of the emotional situation. Emotion, like a wave can roll, and subside for a while, but then it will begin to grow again, and at that moment it can be picked up and dispersed for a steeper and longer burst. A feature of living systems is that they develop in jumps, when a relatively uniform, more or less predictable movement reaches the bifurcation point – the choice of a further trajectory. And the way in which the system will develop depends both on itself and on the flows of energy and information surrounding it (Kozlov, Maykov, 2004).
Music is one type of linear sweep of information. A musical work can have a plot and is built according to the laws of a literary work: the outset, the development, the culmination and the outcome. Such works are the best way to achieve our goals. But, most often for psychotherapeutic purposes, collections of musical works are used, arranged in the sequence that provides a gradual increase in emotional tension in patients, reaching an extreme degree of tension, with subsequent emotional cathartic splash.
A splash, in our opinion, is possible if a procedural sequence of states is passed, creating conditions for stopping the suppression of emotions and correct response in a situation of a therapy session.
• An important condition for catharsis is the presence of an actualized experience.
• Music with its tonality and tempo-rhythmic structure affects a person “alive”, increasing the intensity of tension in the suppression systems, which is reflected in increased muscle tone (shifted eyebrows, clenched fists, frequent breathing, crossing arms and legs, lowered head, etc. .).
• The increasing emotionality of music contributes to the speedy achievement of the limit of the possibilities for restraining external reactions in a particular person (the appearance of a tremor in hotel parts or in the whole body, convulsions, involuntary fine motor skills, etc.).
• Holding on to music through the experience of high intensity, capable of “opening up” defenses and giving rise to emotions (sobbing, mumbling, vocal manifestations, etc.).
• Possible wave-like musical melodic modulations that maximize the patient’s emotion and break through the complex of defenses, providing a violent emotional outburst accompanied by external reactions (sobs, convulsions, tantrums, chaotic gestures, etc.).
The depth of the cathartic experience can be measured not only by the motor activity of the body, but also by the duration of the experience of “cleansing” from heavy and negative repressed emotions. Such an experience can be very emotional in the inner world of a person, but external reactions are more like trance. The result of such catharsis is intellectual insights (samadhi), since not so much muscular blocks (which may be insignificantly represented in the body) are removed, but also ideological restrictions and moral internal restrictions on freedom of thought, stereotypes of thinking and attitudes to life, imposed by society and kind . “Thoughtful music,” as R. Walsh calls it, can serve as an impetus to the process of purification and the emancipation of thought: “Music, with its remarkable ability to evoke emotions and excite the soul, has long been a source of inspiration in the religions of the whole world. The Bible tells us that two thousand years ago, when the Jewish prophet Elisha was looking for inspiration, he cried, “Now call me a harper.” And when the harpist played the harp, then the hand of the Lord touched Elisha ”(Walsh, 1999).
V. Reich considered three main bodily biological excitations – fear, hatred and sexual arousal, which were manifested by the breakthroughs of vegetative energy when working with muscular armor (Reich, 1969). It is possible that these are the most familiar and recognizable human emotions. They are easily recognized due to the fact that they give a bright sensations in the body. Such an emotion as fear will immediately be recognized and can be defined by a person of any age, social and religious affiliation.
Of course, people with more subtle mental organization have a much larger range of emotional shades available to recognition. Considering emotion as a mental reflection of the current state of needs (Rubinstein), one can more accurately approach the issue of choosing musical material, which also, in order to meet our goals, create the emotional field of manifestation of the actual needs of self-realization and perspective unfolding … in mental reality.