Mozart And The Mind Essay

Length: 6 pages Sources: 6 Subject: Music Type: Essay Paper: #97930149 Related Topics: Cognitive Dissonance, A Beautiful Mind, Schizophrenia, Pharmaceutical Industry
Excerpt from Essay :

Mozart Effect by Don Campbell, published by HarperCollins in 1997 and again in 2001, posits the theory that listening to Mozart's music can help to boost one's IQ. The theory is based on interviews and studies conducted by researchers, from which Campbell produces the general notion that music has a "healing" quality to it and can be used to improve one's overall life.[footnoteRef:1] Campbell points to the 1993 study by psychologist Francis Rauscher, who showed that listening to Mozart's sonata for two pianos helped to improve the spatial-temporal skills of the listener for about the next ten to fifteen minutes after listening to the music.[footnoteRef:2] Rauscher's study spurred more researchers to examine the relationship between music and intelligence. Campbell's book is essentially an overview of these studies with some analysis about the way that Mozart and music in general can improve one's ability to think, reason, and enjoy mental health. [1: Don Campbell, The Mozart Effect (NY: HarperCollins, 2001), 4.] [2: Ibid, 15.]

Campbell's findings corroborate the conclusions reached by Kyziridis, who assessed the historical treatments of mental illness within various cultures. The Romans, he found valued the effect of music on the patient and philosophers as well as physicians advocated the usage of music as a tool in treating individuals under mental duress.[footnoteRef:3] Even Plato states that if you want to cure the body, you must begin by healing the soul.[footnoteRef:4] Thus, Campbell reiterates the classicists when he states in The Mozart Effect that "music can lift our soul. It awakens within us the spirit of prayer, compassion, and love. It clears our minds and has been known to make us smarter."[footnoteRef:5] Campbell traces out the research that supports such claims, from Rauscher to Alfred Tomatis, whose work "has established the healing and creative powers of sound and music."[footnoteRef:6] What was measured in each test was the effect of Mozart's music on the listener, as gauged by the listener's aptitude during intelligence examinations following the listening of the music. Results showed that Mozart had a positive effect on the listener, who scored better on tests after listening to a sonata. Campbell then goes on to stress the important role that Mozart in particular has on the mind and spirit of the listener and how his music can not only help strengthen one's intelligence but also uplift the very nature of man. [3: Theocharis Kyziridis, "Notes on the History of Schizophrenia," German Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 8 (2005): 8.] [4: Plato, Charmides, MIT. Web. 5 May 2015. ] [5: Campbell, The Mozart Effect, 1.] [6: Ibid, 17.]

Several researchers have since critiqued the Mozart Effect promoted by Campbell and their results have been used to develop different theories about why Mozart or any music in general stimulates parts of the brain that enable one to profit from a sort of short-term "inspiration" fueled by pleasure synapses in the brain. Jenkins for instance discussed the various results that researchers who have attempted to duplicate Rauscher's test have recorded. Following the publication of Campbell's book, Jenkins called for more in-depth study of the effect of music on listeners and especially the effects of long-term listening rather than a brief exposure to a short sonata.[footnoteRef:7] The criticism of Jenkins was that there was simply not enough conclusive evidence to support the wide claims made by Campbell. What Jenkins did conclude was that studies did indicate that music did help the spatial-temporal abilities of individual listeners. [7 J.S. Jenkins, "The Mozart Effect," Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol. 94, no. 4 (2001): 172.]

E. Glenn Schellenberg supports Jenkins view of the study of the Mozart Effect when he states that findings "are both disappointing as well as promising."[footnoteRef:8] Schellenberg argues that the research since Campbell's book does not support Campbell's claim that music or Mozart specifically "makes one smarter," however, Schellenberg does assert that music has the performance but where he disagrees with Campbell is on the "why" this happens. He states that it there is nothing specifically psychological that happens as a direct result of listening to music or Mozart but rather that music that is liked or pleasing by a listener can alter the listener's mood, which in turn helps the individual to focus more closely on a task or to engage more positively and productively than if the individual were in a less joyful or pleasant mood. Schellenberg's argument, therefore, is that music does shape the mood -- but moods do not make one smarter or more intellectual: they simply allow the individual to more easily access traits that are already present within the mind, by easing the body and lightening the mood so as to "unlock" one's intellectual powers. [8: E. Glenn Schellenberg, "Cognitive Performance After Listening to Music: A Review of the Mozart Effect," in Music, Health, and Wellbeing, (UK: Oxford University Press, 2012), 334.]

This may seem like hair splitting to some, and Perlovsky et al. illustrate in their study that music which is agreeable and pleasant, such as Mozart's, does perform a "fundamental cognitive function" in the listener, enabling him or her to perform better under "stressful conditions."[footnoteRef:9] However, Perlovsky asserts that these findings are "tentative" at best, indicating like Jenkins that more research needs to be conducted in order to corroborate they hypothesis that music affects the intelligence. [9: Leonid Perlovsky, et al. "Mozart effect, cognitive dissonance, and the pleasure of music," Behavioral Brain Research, vol. 244 (2013): 14.]

Thus, Campbell's book has been shown to be polarizing. On the one hand, it deserves praise because it draws attention to an area of psychological study that has not received much attention in modern history. It focuses on a natural remedy for the mind, and how it can actually help improve mental conditions, such as epilepsy, by providing a harmonious musical environment that can affect the mind or soul, whichever way one wants to look at it. It deserves praise as well for reconnecting psychologists with the ancient wisdom of the past -- namely that of the Romans and Greeks, who viewed the mind-body connection as important, with a spiritual component as well, which could be affected by natural remedies like music and light, etc. Overall, the book supports a natural take towards psychological treatment, which can be positive for anyone interested in alternative treatments rather than pharmaceutical ones promoted by pharmaceutical industries, who are often judged as having conflicts of interest by recommending the "treatment" that they also happen to manufacture.

Two aspects of Campbell's study that are least convincing, however, are his assertions that Mozart and music in general can make one smarter or more intelligent. Various studies have found that this claim is not substantiated by research but rather provoked by the general opinion based on positive initial test scores wherein it has been seen that music produces a favorable impact. But to allege that Mozart can indeed boost one's intelligence has not yet been substantially proven by the research community. On the other hand, the beneficial effects of music have been noted by scientists who see a correlation between the calming effects of music on brain patterns and the emotional state of individuals -- such that it can be recommended as a restorative for epilepsy patients, etc. The other aspect of Campbell's study that is least convincing is his assertion that Mozart's music allows us to "locate a deeper wisdom in ourselves."[footnoteRef:10] This assertion is ultimately what underlies the thesis of Campbell's work: he associates the work of Mozart and its simple, joyful melodies with a deeper wisdom that connects the individual to the great important mysteries of life and truth and the transcendentals as well as a better understanding of self. While this assertion is an important one and has both philosophical and possible psychological ramifications, it is not one that is easily supported by the studies conducted by Rauscher and others. It is rather based on an understanding of music and a classicalist appreciation of the concept of the mind, which is rooted in order, objective natural law, and transcendental ideas such as the one, the good, the true, and the beautiful -- the simple aspects of goodness and truth promoted by Greek philosopher Socrates and his students Plato and Aristotle. [10: Campbell, The Mozart Effect, 27.]

Therefore, it can be said that Campbell's unconventional take on the subject of music and the mind is both important and controversial because it subverts the modern tendency of psychologists and behaviorists to deconstruct the mind in order to see how behavior can be conditioned in specific ways. Campbell leans in the direction of the structuralists, like Wilhelm Wundt, whose analysis of the mind was geared towards identifying the psychological framework that supported activity. Campbell not only appears to identify the framework but alludes that music, especially the music of Mozart, in its purity and simplicity,…

Sources Used in Documents:


Campbell, Don. The Mozart Effect. NY: HarperCollins, 2001

Jenkins, J.S. "The Mozart Effect," Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol. 94, no.

4 (2001): 170-172.

Kyziridis, Theocharis. "Notes on the History of Schizophrenia," German Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 8 (2005): 8-24.

Cite this Document:

"Mozart And The Mind" (2015, May 05) Retrieved January 17, 2022, from

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"Mozart And The Mind", 05 May 2015, Accessed.17 January. 2022,

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