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April 21, 1900


JAMA. 1900;XXXIV(16):1008-1009. doi:10.1001/jama.1900.02460160050011

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It is said that certain prominent physicians in the East are organizing a movement to secure treatment by music in hospitals. This seems to us a refinement which we have not yet, as a race, fully reached. Music undoubtedly has certain effects on the nervous system, but so does any other kind of monotonous or rhythmic noise. Insomnia, for example, can be relieved by cannonading, if the subject is used to that method, and equally unmusical though less intense sounds are naturally still more effective. How far more elaborate sound combinations can produce a therapeutic effect, except through the action of the mind by suggestion, seems to us doubtful. The mental action may be considerable, particularly in those who have a natural or cultivated musical taste, but any physical theory of therapeutic musical vibrations affecting the system in various morbid conditions is a little finely drawn at the present time.

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