Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Alexander Khalil
Music and Sound in Narratives of Healing
It Takes Two: relocating mental disorder affords insight into healing and music
Queen's University, Belfast
Plenary Lecture
Optional Fields
Over thirteen years teaching music at an inner city school in the US, I had many opportunities to witness first-hand music’s potential for healing in the context of mental disorder. The narrative that commonly underlies such experiences—and research that attempts to understand them—is that disorder exists as an internal phenomenon, a deficit or perhaps difference in some individuals. Some elements of music from the technical, such as rhythmic entrainment to the social, such as formation of group identity, lessen the experience of disorder, affording improved (or at least more typical) cognition, a deeper social life, and higher level of acceptance. I propose that these narratives overlook the primacy of interpersonal and intersubjective aspects and experiences both of disorder and of music. If we simply adjust our understanding of where, disorder, healing, and music take place, we can begin to grasp not only music’s potential power for healing but also its centrality in our lives.