Part 2: A Reader and Author Respond to "Esoteric or Exoteric? Music in Medicine"

Roman Kozlowski; Claudius Conrad, MD, PhD


April 14, 2008

To the Editor:

I found Conrad's article interesting. Some of his references had useful connections that resonated with my own work in a similar area of interest.[1]

I am a researcher, interested in the powerful therapeutic effects that enable creative expression in patients -- particularly those with mental health problems.

As a youngster, I trained as a classical pianist and still love to play Bach piano. I have been a musical composer and performer with established recorded works since 1979. Particularly, since the mid-80s, I have become interested not only in the passive beneficial effects of music, fine art, drama, and many other artistic mediums, but also in the marvelous therapeutic effects of proactive involvement of the person in creative expression, leading to productions of their own original flash of theta moments. This helps the development of healthier and better balanced "whole-brain" interactivity and eliminates harmful patterns of overactuated cul-de-sac pockets of hemispheric activity, which are usually associated with many mental health disorders.

Roman Kozlowski


  1. Conrad C. Esoteric or exoteric? Music in medicine. Medscape J Med. 2008;10:20. Available at: Accessed March 23, 2008.


Author's Reply:

I appreciate your enthusiasm greatly. However, some of the information you provide as a researcher on creativity is difficult to interpret.

It is our understanding that creativity has clear benefits for individuals and society as a whole. However, the clinical relationship between disease and stressors with creativity remains not well understood. Most of the research today involves the connection between creativity and affective disorders, such as bipolar disorders.[1] Some data exist that look at the relationship between schizophrenia, suicide, alcoholism, stress, and creativity.[2,3,4] Comparing various professions involved in artistic creativity in a sample of 4564 eminent artists, musicians had a lower suicide rate over writers, poets, and sculptors, suggestive of a protective effect of music.[3] Aging also seems to have a strong influence on creativity and to be an important working point to ease the effects of aging on personality.

Our research on music and stress appears to have a point of contact with creativity. Stressors used to be identified and tied to a quantifiable experience, followed by assessment on an event scale. However, stress is more and more viewed as a matter of interpretation, and therefore research focuses on perceived stress, which is influenced by creativity.[5]

Claudius Conrad, MD, PhD
Senior Surgical Resident
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Boston, Massachusetts


  1. Andreasen NC. Creativity and mental illness: prevalence rates in writers and their first-degree relatives. Am J Psychiatry. 1987;144:1288-1292. Abstract

  2. Rothenberg A. Creativity and mental illness. Am J Psychiatry. 1995;152:815-817. Abstract

  3. Preti A, De Biasi F, Miotto P. Musical creativity and suicide. Psychol Rep. 2001;89:719-727. Abstract

  4. Noble EP, Runco MA, Ozkaragoz TZ. Creativity in alcoholic and nonalcoholic families. Alcohol. 1993;10:317-322. Abstract

  5. Smith GJW, Carlsson I, Andersson G. Creativity and subliminal manipulations of projected self-images. Creat Res J. 1989;2:1-16.




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