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Dr. Oliver Sacks, The Grateful Dead and The Healing Power of Music

One Fascinating Case

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Mysterious Healing

Here is a case history that explores the human brain’s susceptibility to music, and the healing that is possible as a result.

In 1977, noted neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks met Greg,a young man with devastating amnesia caused by a brain tumor who could remember no new events in his life. He responded to one thing only: music, particularly The Grateful Dead.

After almost fifteen years of working with Greg, Dr. Sacks arranged for Greg to meet drummer Mickey Hart and go to a Grateful Dead concert! This video tells the remarkable story of what followed.

Dr. Sacks writes more about music and music therapy in his book Musicophelia, including this passage from the preface:

"While music can affect all of us—calm us, animate us, comfort us, thrill us, or serve to organize and synchronize us at work or play—it may be especially powerful and have great therapeutic potential for patients with a variety of neurological conditions. Such people may respond powerfully and specifically to music (and, sometimes, to little else). Some of these patients have widespread cortical problems, whether from strokes or Alzheimer’s or other causes of dementia; others have specific cortical syndromes— loss of language or movement functions, amnesias, or frontal-lobe syndromes. Some are retarded, some autistic; others have subcortical syndromes such as parkinsonism or other movement disorders. All of these conditions and many others can potentially respond to music and music therapy."

Turn it up and let the healing begin!

--Bibi Farber

Oliver Sacks is the author of twelve books, including The Mind's Eye, Musicophilia, Awakenings, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat and Hallucinations.