Listening for the Light: A New Perspective on Integration Disorder in Dyslexic Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Bipolarity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Substance Abuse

Listening for the Light: A New Perspective on Integration Disorder  in Dyslexic Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Bipolarity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Substance Abuse, by author Laurna Tallman

Listening for the Light author Laurna Tallman channels her considerable insights gained from understanding the tasks of the left and right hemispheres of the brain into practical advice for regaining optimal physical and mental health.

In normal brain function, both cerebral hemispheres process information, such as language. Both sides work together to maintain physical coordination and take in complex information. The left hemisphere has more control in the processing of tasks such as language and logic, while the right hemisphere has more control in processing tasks related to creativity and intuition. In cases of schizophrenia (and other mental illnesses to varying degrees), language and logic are severely interrupted (deficient) while creativity and intuition are wildly chaotic (hampered by the left hemisphere deficits). This book delves into the question of what causes the left hemisphere to lose its dominance, or, to put it another way, what causes people with mental disorders to become disorganized in the skills most needed to manage daily life (language and logic)?

The brain and the entire body are powered by sound energy entering both ears. The “normal” function of the stapedius muscle of the right ear is to quickly and directly energize the “logical” left brain with sound energy. The stapedius muscle of the left ear launches sound energy entering the left ear on a circuitous route before feeding the information the larynx. Dr. Alfred Tomatis, a brilliant French ear, nose and throat specialist, knowing that right-ear sound is a more direct route to the larynx, determined that it is the right ear that controls the voice, concluding that the voice can only reproduce what the ear can hear. Tomatis was not talking about “tone” (the quality of a sound) he was talking about “pitch” (the frequency of the sound being produced, e.g., “C” instead of “D-flat”). And he was talking, first, about singers. (His father was an opera singer.) He thought in terms of “overall pitch” of the speaking voice in various languages. He paid no attention to what caused nuanced tone in the speaking voice. (e.g. “flat” affect, a negative symptom of  schizophrenia.) He had no idea what caused garbled speech, although he knew the right ear needed to be dominant to stop stuttering and to help dyslexics. And herein lies Tallman’s neurological paradigm: His ideas of ear dominance did not extend to cerebral dominance. Tallman is the one who saw that connection: that altering the right ear was having a global effect on brain function by making the left-brain dominate in integrative processes. Tomatis just thought each half of the brain ran at a different speed. Integration wasn’t on his radar. 

Tallman asserts that most mental illness begins in the ear, and, specifically with a weakened stapedius muscle in the right middle ear. When the right ear stapedius muscle is either naturally weak or weakened by drugs, exposure to loud noises, etc., corrective stimulation needs to be applied. More energy needs to flow through the right ear to enable the left brain to assume its dominance in language and logic. Focused Listening strengthens the right ear to increase that sound energy flow. She makes an excellent case for why this is so.  When I came across Tallman’s book, having had some experience with the Tomatis Method, suddenly I had an comprehensive, coherent, and plausible explanation for the origin of my son’s symptoms and a clear idea, thanks to this book, on how to improve on the Tomatis Method‘s shortcomings. Continue reading “Listening for the Light: A New Perspective on Integration Disorder in Dyslexic Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Bipolarity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Substance Abuse”

Latest review of The Scenic Route

A Review of Rossa Forbes’s The Scenic Route: A Way through Madness
by Laurna Tallman

Rossa Forbes writes about her son’s schizophrenia with the clarity of an investigative reporter. She describes Chris’s symptoms as she observed and learned about them, including a very interesting perspective on his childhood for anyone alert to symptoms of early ear dysfunction. She faces with ruthless honesty the psychiatric and pharmaceutical establishments in her country of origin, Canada, and in Switzerland where the family was living. If she had been treated with equal candour and willingness to learn, she would have had a better grasp of Chris’s weak self-control, fragile grip on reality, fatigue, altered learning abilities, and other personality changes, as well as with the effects of medication on his former capabilities. Instead, like so many parents and caregivers, she had to learn about those characteristics of schizophrenia and of psychoactive drugs through trial and error. Like any parent whose child has been committed to an institutional setting for his or her protection, and the protection of others, she gradually learned that the medical/psychiatric profession strategies and medications do not heal, only control. At the same time, she noticed that vague hopes and promises of improvement came with those strategies and that they were proving false.

After three years of co-operating with this misleading medicalized paradigm, Forbes decided to explore other possibilities. She conceded the need for some medication, but she withdrew her son and the family from group therapy Continue reading “Latest review of The Scenic Route”

“Jennifer” Part II: It takes a village

In my last post I wrote about Jennifer landing back in the hospital after two years of progressively deteriorating behavior. I won’t be able to visit her until later this month after my vacation. Probably just as well, as by then, she may be be better able to receive visitors.

I’d like to set her up with Laurna Tallman’s focused listening by giving her a good set of headphones, an MP3 player onto which high frequency violin music has been downloaded, some mandala colouring books for adults, and a set of simple instructions.

Assuming Jennifer agrees to my offer, it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to manage and safeguard the equipment over time and replace it when needed. Who will support her listening efforts through personal contact? (I’m in the process of moving far away and won’t be around after June to help her.) Here’s where I’m hoping to involve the members of a club that I belong to where Jennifer used to be a member. I’ll be asking the Board in May if the Club will take her on as one of their many charitable projects, to replace the equipment when needed, to make sure she’s got a reliable source of high frequency music, and to encourage her to keep listening.

How to cure schizophrenia

Pay special attention to today’s important post. Laurna Tallman has given me permission to reprint her original blog post (see below) in its entirety.

I discovered Laurna Tallman’s astonishing research during this past summer when I was lining up further Tomatis therapy for Chris and beginning therapy for me. I read her blog post and was impressed, but didn’t return to it until Chris and I had finished forty hours of standard Tomatis therapy spread over two sessions, one in September and the second one in November. The Tomatis director was very encouraging about Chris’s growing listening comprehension. On my part, I felt after only a few hours of the therapy that my vision has somehow expanded to take in things in my environment that I hadn’t seen before. For example, how come I hadn’t noticed how wide these streets are? Along with this came a burst in me of newfound enthusiasm for living. But, I was none-the-wiser about why this therapy might be well suited for schizophrenia, let alone “cure” schizophrenia. Doctor Alfred Tomatis didn’t have much to say about schizophrenia in his published work. You have to really dig deep to find out about alternative healing for schizophrenia buthey, that’s why I write my blog.

I re-read Laurna’s post a few weeks ago, did a bit of internet snooping around on her other postings, and my first reaction was: How can she be so absolutely convinced that just about all mental illness begins in the ear? (She tends to use italics a lot for emphasis.) My second reaction was: If someone is that convinced then I’d better listen. I’m so glad I did. Her research has put forth a coherent explanation of many of Chris’s puzzling symptoms, allowing me a eureka moment. I suddenly had a plausible, elegantly tied-together explanation for what was going on with him. Finally, I had found someone who’s certain about the causes of a condition that has everyone else throwing up their hands and saying “we don’t really know”.

I’m a believer in Laurna Tallman’s work and increasingly confident that Chris will shed all traces of the symptoms of schizophrenia that have plagued him for years. Using her academic background and herself and her family as the subject of her research, through her “focused listening” technique she has gone beyond the work of Tomatis and Bérard to help people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia become more left-brain dominant (i.e., rational, logical, energized, integrated, and organized). It’s all about strengthening a tiny muscle of the middle ear.

Laura Tallman’s post from the schizophrenia tab of MentalHealththroughMusic.ca

Check out more information at the CBT tab of MentalHealththroughMusic.ca

Schizophrenia

The idea that medical science really did not know any more than I did about what caused schizophrenia was a long, long dawn.

Daniel had been in a provincial psychiatric hospital and then had been moved back to the admitting general hospital. At last, the elderly psychiatrist I had been trying for weeks to contact for information about Daniel’s mental condition telephoned me. “I am Dr. R. You can pick Daniel up today,” she said.

“What is Daniel’s diagnosis?” I asked.

“Acute schizophrenia,” she answered.

“And what is his prognosis?” I ventured.

“Once a schizophrenic, always a schizophrenic,” she replied and hung up the phone.

It occurred to me that no doctor in her right mind would break that kind of news to a parent that way. But I already had reasons for distrusting the kind of “help” Daniel was getting from his psychiatrists.

I made the hour’s drive to the hospital, picked up our oddly subdued son, and asked him as we started home if he would be able to wait in the car for a few minutes while I stopped at the library. In terror as to what sort of things might go wrong if I left him unattended, I ran into the building, found the small section on health, and gathered psychiatric texts, stories by or about schizophrenics, and books about dyslexia into my carryall. My formal education on the state of the art of psychiatric knowledge about schizophrenia had begun.

The texts I read implied that differing forms of mental illness were like different kinds of skin diseases: different, but all happening in the same place — the brain. The more I learned about neurologists’ and psychiatrists’ probing of the brain for the cause of schizophrenia, the more I fell into the trap of thinking the brain became sick in a dozen different ways to produce various mental illnesses. Occasionally, I would encounter a doctor who mentioned similarities between one mental illness or another. In fact, manic depression and schizophrenia have many similar symptoms. Autism used to be called “infantile schizophrenia.” Asperger’s is like schizophrenia in some ways, too. But no one had a theory of how or why these conditions were related.

During several of Daniel’s episodes of schizophrenia I had noticed his ability to focus on conversation wavered and returned. I measured that fluctuation. The intervals were 2 minutes of clarity followed by 2 minutes of confusion to make a 4-minute cycle. The cycle persisted all day, every day. I measured that cycle twice again, years apart, during separate schizophrenic episodes and the results were identical. I knew that some physiological process was driving the changes in his brain. But what?  Between his severe episodes we struggled to help him to defeat his addictions. Sometimes he seemed to improve a little, then, he became acutely schizophrenic time and time again. One victory was titrating his medication to the lowest possible dosage for tolerable behaviour: 0.0625 mg. of risperidone, a minuscule amount. Continue reading “How to cure schizophrenia”

Sound therapy – the Tomatis Method

“Mozart,” I thought, and with the word conjured up the most beloved and the most exalted picture that my inner life contained.

In May this year, immediately after his three month stay in hospital, Chris began the Tomatis Method, an auditory training method developed by a Frenchman, Dr. Alfred Tomatis (1920-2001), who theorized that voice and behavior problems are hearing problems. According to him, the voice only reproduces what the ear can hear.

The human ear, which resembles in shape a fetus, begins to develop a few days after conception and is fully formed by the fourth month of pregnancy. The ear doesn’t sleep. It is the only one of our sensory organs that is alert twenty-four hours a day. Tomatis theorized that the problems of autism, schizophrenia and other disorders stem from the fetus not fully hearing the mother’s voice. If a child is not integrated properly into the early environment, he or she will begin to listen more to certain frequencies than to others, will lose the desire to communicate and will turn inward by listening to her/himself. If you change the way the ear hears, he reasoned, language and behavior change, too.

Each of us has a unique auditory curve, which responds to certain sound frequencies and not to others. To achieve optimal hearing (and therefore understanding) Tomatis invented the electronic ear, a device that filters out certain sound frequencies using the music of Mozart and Gregorian chants. Why Mozart? According to Tomatis, among other things, the music of Mozart encompasses childhood auditory frequencies of 120 beats per minute. The electronic ear filters the music of Mozart to represent the sound environment before birth.
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Hesse, Hermann, Steppenwolf, Bantam Books, 1974, pg. 233