Auditory Hallucinations: Music. A Blog Inspired by My Collage for LMAC #71

in #letsmakeacollage2 months ago (edited)

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Is the music in my picture real? Is it a gift from on high? Is it a chimera? Does it exist only in a perceived universe and not in an objective reality? How does one distinguish between these states? It's not easy. For those who have visual or auditory hallucinations, there is often no way to distinguish the subjective reality from the objective reality experienced by others.


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accent neutral.jpgaccent neutral.jpgThe most important job I ever had, besides raising my own children, was working with other children. Some of these were challenged in extraordinary ways. One I recall had auditory hallucinations. She heard sounds in the absence of external auditory stimulus.

This child was most remarkable. She had the sweetest temperament and never alluded to her distraction. But her face would cloud as she struggled to block out voices that were very real to her. Medicine helped, but it also clouded her thinking and placed a virtual wall between her and her physical environment.

There are many kinds of hallucination. The most common is auditory (as compared to visual, somatic/tactile, olfactory and gustatory). While my student heard voices, a small minority of auditory hallucinations are musical in nature. Hearing voices, and hearing music are phenomena which may have different origins.

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A wide range of factors cause musical hallucination. According to the journal Brain, hallucinations have been linked to, among other things, "psychiatric and neurologic disease, brain lesions, drug effect, and hearing impairment". Determining an exact cause, however, in a specific case, can be challenging. Even in death, after an autopsy, confusion and disagreement about a diagnosis may remain. Note the examples of Robert Schumann and Bedřich Smetana, two preeminent nineteenth-century composers who are profiled below.

Both musicians suffered from dementia, and both experienced musical hallucinations.

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Daguerreotype of Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
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Public domain. Uploader, Nocturne at German Wikipedia
It has widely been reported that Robert Schumann suffered from syphilis, and that the disease eventually manifested as neurosyphilis. Only a small percentage of syphilis cases advance to this stage. When they do, the result can be dementia, paralysis and death. Schumann spent the last years of his life in an asylum.

Before Schumann's illness became incapacitating he experienced severe and unremitting tinnitus. This condition contributed to his musical hallucinations. He heard "...a musical pitch or an entire orchestra..." The music went on sometimes "...for days." Schumann incorporated these hallucinations into his Violin Concerto in D minor.

YouTube video of Schumann's Concerto in D Minor

Schumann continued to compose as his health deteriorated, until the last few months of his life.

In 1973, Schumann's long-standing syphilis diagnosis was turned on its head. His autopsy report was unearthed. According to this report, "findings...provide no compelling evidence for a resolved or on-going chronic inflammatory process." There was, though, a gelatinous mass observed at the base of his brain.

Robert and Clara Schumann
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Image credit: Edward Kaiser, 1847. Public domain Schumann's wife, Clara, was an accomplished pianist. After Schumann was admitted to an asylum (voluntary), he feared he might hurt his wife. For the last two years of his life he did not see her, although just before he died his wife did visit.

Did the mass discovered at the base of Schumann's brain cause his dementia? Did Schumann suffer from bipolar disorder, and did this bring about hallucinations and dementia? No one can say for sure. What is certain is that in the last years of his life Schumann suffered from dementia. He hallucinated and believed ghosts were dictating music to him. He died of pneumonia, while still in the asylum, in July of 1856.

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Bedřich (Frederic) Smetana (1824 –1884)
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Image credit: Unknown. 1878. Public domain

Bedřich Smetana was a Czech composer who is widely credited with being the founder of the Czech school of music. Post mortem autopsy revealed he was also ill with syphilis, although there are those who challenge this diagnosis. Findings from the autopsy included: "atrophy of the cortex and acoustic nerves, changes accounting for his deafness and compatible with tertiary neurosyphilis"(From Hektoen International)

An article in Psychiatria Danubina reports that Smetana's earliest auditory hallucinations appeared when he was thirty-eight years old. He described hearing "a duet of male voices and a sound of an organ in the noise of a running train". At this early stage of his illness Smetana had insight into what happened. He realized he had not actually heard music.

Provisional Theater of Prague,
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Image credit: Bohumil Roubal 1881. Public domain In 1866 Smetana was appointed Conductor at the theater.

In the summer of 1874, Smetana became deaf and had to give up his position as conductor of the Provisional Theater in Prague. However, he continued to compose. Between 1874 and 1879, he composed Má vlast (‘My Fatherland’)--a series of six symphonic poems which have been described as "a quintessential work of Czech musical culture".

A performance of Smetana's symphony, Moldau, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. (USA)

According to an article published in Psychiatria Danubina, despite Smetana's deafness in 1874, he "retained his auditory imagination and continued to compose".

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My Collage

I began this blog with a fanciful collage, which was inspired by @shaka's lovely template picture for LMAC #71.

The template photo by @shaka
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As I created the musical fantasy, my mind wandered to thoughts of my former student. I remembered how vividly she experienced her hallucinations. And so I began to read a bit about musical hallucinations. What amazes me is that after all this time, and all the suffering of countless people, there is still poor understanding of the phenomenon. More importantly, there is not yet a cure, or treatment that carries few side effects.

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I would like to thank @tormenta (she will be a beneficiary on this post) for giving me the idea for my collage. I saw her seaside vacation home and decided to design my own.

I found (on Pixabay):
A Polynesian wonderland
Flamingos
Golden music notes
A harp
A colorful mermaid
On Wikimedia Commons I found a public domain
Wandering sprite
The rest of my elements came from Paint 3D. I used Paint 3D, Paint, Gimp, and Lunapic to manipulate the image.

Illustration in the blog not otherwise credited
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derived from Pixabay picture
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Thank you, @shaka for all the work it takes to keep this community growing. Thank you, LMAC community, for the fellowship and inspiration. Readers of this blog can join in. The rules for participation may be found at @shaka's blog. You can stop in at the LMAC Discord channel to chat or ask questions. We have a school, with lessons created by talented @quantumg, to help you realize your collage vision. And please check out the other collages in this week's round. Amazing creativity, enthusiasm and skill on display.

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Thank you for reading my blog

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Hive on!

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Hasta que por fin mi Internet logro traducir... no podía escribir si pasearme por tus escritos, que realmente nos deja siempre con grandes enseñanzas... alucinaciones musicales, desconocía por completo ese tipo de alucinaciones... no hace mucho conocí a una persona que alucinaba con el olor, me pareció bien raro.. Y gracias por ese hermoso collage, ya me dieron ganas de irme de vacaciones..Abrazos mi estimada.

Until finally my Internet managed to translate ... I could not write without walking through your writings, which really always leaves us with great teachings ... musical hallucinations, I was completely unaware of that type of hallucinations ... not long ago I met one person who hallucinated with the smell, it seemed very strange to me .. And thanks for that beautiful collage, I already wanted to go on vacation .. Hugs my dear.

Thank you my dear Tormenta, for reading my blog. I know that translation can be a barrier sometimes. I wanted a vacation home after I read about yours :)

Isn't the mind a mysterious thing? I think art is so important because it allows us to explore the mystery.



Gracias mi amiga por sus palabras amables. Y, tambien, por leer mi blog largo. Me gusta aprender cosas nuevas, ideas nuevas. Y me gusta ya mas compartirlos con otras personas.

Yo trato de espressarme en espanol de respeto a ti. No es facil, pero vale la pena.

Buenas noches, @tormenta, y abrazo por ti.

This collage is a beauty and this post is very, very interesting.
It is painful to know that there are phenomena of perception that can be experienced in such a tortuous way (and are so fascinating that they leave me with a certain taste of guilt).
I have left the music playing while I write this answer and I come back to your article to see again your collage. I would move to that island with its tower (if there was internet, of course ). Maybe the green mermaid-jellyfish would be an interesting neighbor, hehe.... I would keep the tower and every day I would look at those crystal clear waters and the flamingos. The coconut trees are great to hang a hammock and read.
The house on the island is great, hehehe....
Now I'm also tremendously curious about @tormenta's house.
Your last collages have been phenomenal @agmoore. I especially liked the geometric one.
My time has been crazy and I've barely been able to bother to check the posts (although I have tried to see the works, there are some amazing things). I'm very happy to hear that @quantum showed up.
A big hug.

Thank you @adncabrera,

The word community is thrown around a lot on Hive. But here, on LMAC, we do have a true community. The connection between the members grows every time we visit a blog and appreciate each others work. No matter the result of an effort (unless there is no effort), there is always something to appreciate.

Your visit heartens me. I'm sorry you're so busy, but I guess busy is a good thing when many people cannot find work. I'm fond of @tormenta. She has been posting in LMAC for so long now, that I feel I know her. And, her collage was the departure point for my collage. That's community: we nourish each other.

Again, you have a remarkable collage. I saw it in passing last night and will revisit again today with more attention.

Stay well, and good luck in the vote-off today.

A hug to you, friend!

Un hermoso collage y además nos permite obtener conocimiento sobre un tema muy interesante, que por lo menos yo desconocía, gracias por este importante aporte y suerte en el concurso 🤗🤗

Muchas gracias, amiga @kismeri. Me gusta aprender ideas nuevas. Gracias por leyendo my blog.

Buen suerte en el concurso.

How sweet torments is your beneficiary that’s nice ! Tell about this place or rather can you take me there I think there will not be Covid rules and lockdowns
Love the serene outlook
Good luck Friend this week

Hello @brittandjosie,
Thank you very much for stopping by. LMAC is a tonic for me. It has always been the case that my imagination could carry me far away (without the use of drugs!). But, I have no artistic talent. That's not so obvious here :))

Yes. Let's go to that idyllic place. At least virtually.

Good luck in the voting round tonight with your impressive collage.

Hi, fascinating read, and beautiful collage.

Thank you very much, @eve66 for reading my long blog. And thank you for the kind words about my collage. I wish you a peaceful evening :)

I didn't know this kind of illness or hallucinations, when I hear hallucinations I just imagine images, I didn't know that musical hallucinations existed, you always teach us something in your collages. Thank you! By the way your collage is very nice I hallucinate living in a place like this!😂

Thank you so much for reading that long blog. I fear sometimes no one will bother. But I would like people to bother, because I care a lot about this subject. Wouldn't it be wonderful if science had an answer and a treatment?

And thank you for liking my collage. As is true with you (as you have explained) I get lost in imagining the scene when I do these. Quite therapeutic. Have a great week--until the next collage challenge :)