Christian Long

Robert Gupta: Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity

In TED Talks on April 15, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Reflection by ABBIE P.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Robert Gupta: Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity

About a month ago, my mother told me that she’d watched a movie that she thought I would like. That was when I first caught interest in Nathaniel Ayers, a man whose life was ripped away from him because of Paranoid Schizophrenia. He started as a student at Julliard, and ended up on the streets because of his disease. Schizophrenia is a disease that requires life long treatment, whether or not symptoms have subsided, and yet Nathaniel lived his life refusing this treatment.

People today listen to music because it’s fun to dance to, or because they think it’s cute, but for Nathaniel Ayers, music was a cure. It’s truly fascinating how he was completely changed once Robert Gupta started playing his violin. Treatments for Schizophrenia usually include shock therapy and anti-psychotic medications, but somehow music had a way of captivating him and completely soothing him. It only goes to show that music is more than people see it as. If music helped this Schizophrenic man escape one of his fits, one can only imagine what it could do for other people with the same disorder, or another one. I have found that certain types of music help me focus on specific tasks a lot better than medication does. I take Vyvanse for my ADHD, which of course helps me keep focused, otherwise I wouldn’t still be on it, but it’s more that I’m focused on everything at once, and I can’t really express myself. It’s like…when I take my medication, I’m trapped in a box, which I know is nothing compared to being treated by shock therapy, but there’s still similarity in the situation that neither Nathaniel or I work well under medical treatments for our disorders.

A lot of the time, listening to music helps me focus on one thing at a time, without the side effects that the medications cause. Music truly is more than people think it is, maybe it means more to some than it does to others, but for those who are passionate about music, it is sanity. Like all other forms of art, it has a way of captivating your soul, it can manipulate your emotions with sound. Robert Gupta’s violin lesson with Nathaniel Ayers is proof that music is medicine, because when pills, shock therapy, and other treatments failed, music was able to tame him.

  1. […] very first thing I thought of when watching this video was Robert Gupta’s talk about his lesson with Nathaniel Ayers. If music can soothe an untreated schizophrenic man on the verge of having a fit, then there must […]

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