Lively discussions about the paradigm of mental health and mental illness proposed in our first book, Listening for the Light: A New Perspective on Hemispheric Integration, both face to face and online, have led me to open this conversation about the relationship between the ear and the brain.
The discoveries of Dr. Alfred Tomatis about the neurological relationship between the ear and the voice opened a door of new hope to those suffering audio-processing deficits that affect their behaviour. One dyslexic young man who stepped through that door was carrying some serious baggage: addictions to street drugs. His amazing recovery from dyslexic syndrome when he was treated with music by the Tomatis Method was followed by his return to substance abuse, which plunged him into psychosis and a diagnosis of hopeless schizophrenia. Yet, that young man has normal brain function today.
Over a period of 10 years I learned incrementally how to support his recovery as Daniel himself reached out again and again to music for healing. What was it that Daniel knew within himself when he said, entering a psychotic episode, “I’m dyslexic again”? Things I had noticed about his behaviour and my own research into neurology eventually showed me what Daniel knew about his interior world. That discovery led me to a new definition of the etiology of dyslexic syndrome and of schizoaffective disorders; but also to the realization that most human behaviour within the range of normal depends on the capacity of the dominant ear to maintain the dominance of one (or the other) cerebral hemispheres. Losses of dominance, whether sudden and brief, or regular and prolonged, describe a spectrum of behaviours usually called “mental” that proved, in Daniel, to originate in the ear. Stimulation of his right ear with music gradually repaired his right ear-left brain neurological connection to restore dominance and normal behaviour.
The health of the middle and inner ear is essential to normal behavior. The spectrum of human behaviour, including so-called “mental” illnesses, is generated in the ear.
I hope that by sharing our experiences of the long, difficult journey towards healing that readers of this blog will be inspired to explore the ideas here on their own paths to health through music.
Daniel’s story is available at http://www.northernlightbooks.ca/Bookstore.htm