Alfred Tomatis (who died in 2000) was a famed otolaryngologist decorated by the French government not only for his contribution to the war effort but for his advances in the science of hearing. His colleague, Guy Bérard, who left their collaboration, also was an otolaryngologist. He founded Audio Integration Training (AIT). Those men recognized that the treatments they were using need not be restricted to people with their expertise. They taught others who have both less and more formal education than I have to assess the audition of patients and to administer their versions of the Tomatis Method. I observed the application of the Tomatis Method when our son Daniel was treated at a Tomatis clinic and I, too, was treated there successfully for chronic fatigue syndrome (fibromyalgia). From that experience, after I relapsed, I turned to ordinary headphones and CDs of classical music to successfully reclaim my healing.
One does not need medical training to apply a music therapy. One needs headphones, a source of music, and familiarity with the symptoms on the spectrum of mental illnesses to observe changes in those symptoms towards the range of normal behavior. If your child is autistic and healed by a music therapy, you may not be able to explain how that happened neurologically, but you have no doubt of the success of putting headphones on your child for listening to classical music for a couple of hours a day. In fact, one woman cured her daughter of autism, wrote a book, started a consulting business, and sells fancy equipment that reproduces the Tomatis Method. I am offering something similar, minus the expensive equipment, but with a groundbreaking theory of human behaviour.
Millions of people are self-treating their ears by listening to music of all kinds with headphones. Those using earbuds are in greater risk of harming their ears. Some, no doubt, are enhancing their hearing; others are causing serious damage or perpetuating existing damage. No strategies are in place for controlling this activity or for gathering data on listeners’ reactions to their use of music. Other commercial music therapies are available but they lack an understanding of the role of the ears in behavior and tend to focus on changes in “brain waves,” which is dangerously insufficient for the offerings some of them make to the general public.
I am trained in scholarship, in research methodologies, in logic, in the observation of behavior, and in the precise use and analysis of language and of literature. I have counselled on the job, in churches, and in private practice for decades. I have edited and have made significant contributions to university textbooks in the social sciences and humanities for 30 years.
I had already made my ground-breaking observations about the role of the ear in both normal and abnormal behavior from watching our son heal from very severe schizophrenia before I read texts in neurology. I had already formulated a theory of ear-driven brain function before reading Tomatis’s writing, although I knew a little about him through a book written by his protégé Paul Madaule, who founded several Tomatis Method listening centers. However, I corrected my manuscript’s neurological descriptions in line with Tomatis’s very important refinements on standard neurology texts. He taught anatomy at the Sorbonne. His teaching of the asymmetry of the neural pathways in the communication loop was foundational to my understanding (in neurological terms) of what I had discovered. By then, I also realized I had corrected and expanded on the unscientific aspects of Tomatis’ theories about mental illness that he learned from psychiatrists and that brought him much grief, as he explains at great length in his autobiography. He did not understand the dominance of the left-hemisphere in the integration of cerebral processes or he would have said so.
The research of the noted American neurologist V.S. Ramachandran about the differences between the propensities of the two halves of the brain helped me to realized Daniel was becoming “more left-brained” during recovery. Tomatis and Bérard did not have access to those advances in neurology at the time they wrote or they would have couched their explanations of behavior in those terms. Hardly anyone ever has watched an acutely schizophrenic adult fully recover, as I have. No one before me has documented that recovery under a specific, right-ear treatment of music stimulation (at least, not that I know of). Georgiana Stehli’s autism/infantile schizophrenia was healed by Bérard when she was 11, using a binaural version of the Tomatis Method that he adapted. As I mentioned, Dr. Norman Doidge remarked at a dinner speech (June 2014) at the University of Toronto that he has seen autism respond to the Tomatis Method. Doidge made it clear earlier in his speech that he, also, has had no understanding of left-cerebral dominance in the integrative processes of the brain. Then, he heard about it from me.
During that healing process of right-ear stimulation Daniel passed through most of the types of mental illness commonly known, proving that the ear controls behavior on a spectrum defined by the frequencies of sound the right ear can process effectively to the left-brain. My need as a reporter of Daniel’s healing was to learn the language of the specialists so I could explain in their terminology what I had observed. I am not an expert in anatomy and neurology; I learned enough to describe the role of the ear in behavior.
Richard Tallman (PhD Memorial University of Newfoundland, 1975, folkore) and I have edited university texts in our editorial services company since 1979, serving major Canadian publishers. We are well aware of the standards of science, academe, and of the industry. He and I recognized the importance of my discoveries, also well aware of the failure of any church to consistently heal severe mental illness, of the failure of psychiatry to cure mental illness, and of the exacerbation of mental illness from pharmaceuticals used to “control” mental illness. I am a follower of Jesus, and can say that my learning about how to heal mental illness has been motivated by my relationship with Him and my love of people. My decades of reading in the behavioral sciences; of counselling on the job, in churches, and privately; and my independent research into mental illness long before I read Tomatis and Bérard told me my discoveries were desperately needed as quickly as we could disseminate that learning. We extended our editorial services business into publishing, a line of business I have worked in almost continuously since I graduated from university.
At the 3rd conference of the International Association of Music and Medicine, I spoke to a medical specialist for perhaps 5 minutes about the flaws in the research design he had presented and what I had learned about the role of the ear in behavior from curing our son. He stopped me, “Wait, wait. You know far more than I do about the ears.” Five minutes. I have taught sessions that ran for five hours. In fact, I was in a position to critique the work of all of the specialists at that conference whose sessions I was able to attend. I met only one neurologist, a European, who knew what I was talking about when I remarked that the vagus nerve network is linked to the ear by a nerve fiber that rests on the stapedius muscle of the middle ear (Tomatis). That vagal connection between the ear and the body “from top to bottom” has tremendous significance for the way the ear controls other body systems.
I cannot reproduce the details of my paradigm here. I will say that it would be difficult to overestimate the importance of my discoveries to every discipline in the humanities including religion and theology. Yes, my novel paradigm is “citizen science”; but it is science conducted on a wide basis of knowledge of human behaviour. My science has been professionally reported with appropriate supporting research. It is scrupulously honest. It cannot be “peer reviewed” not only because I am not in academe but because I am about ten years in advance of any research I could discover being conducted in a university. In fact, if I had remained in academe, I would have been prevented by the limitations in institutions from extensively studying someone like our schizophrenic son.