British psychologist Jay Watts explores the impacts of spontaneous recollections of songs and poems on people struggling with different types of mental distress in an essay published in The Lancet Psychiatry. “We need only think of the importance of lullabies, the adolescent’s compulsive repeated listening to a pop song, and the power of song in dementia care to see how words that combine language and musicality stabilise us at pivotal moments,” writes Watts. She also discusses how shared artistic experiences can help marginalized people re-connect with those around them.
“Culture provides a terrain to place one’s own psychodrama into shared cultural experience, so as to weaken its grip and render it less intensely our own,” writes Watts. “This experience might be especially important for patients with psychosis, who often develop anxieties that the type of intrusive experiences we all have must be madness.”
The Songs that Saved Your Life (Watts, Jay. The Lancet Psychiatry, V.1, Issue 2, July 2014 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61345-8)