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Observations placeholder

Dr Susan Mandel’s work with heart attack and stroke victims



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Singing Neanderthals – Dr Steven Mithen

During the 1990s, the psychologist Susan Mandel worked as a music therapist at the Lake Hospital in Ohio. While her reports provide further evidence for the healing power of music, they also demonstrate some of the difficulties in evaluating the effectiveness of such therapy. Her particular area of interest was the use of music to reduce stress in those who had suffered heart attacks, as stress increases the likelihood of a second attack. Mandel introduced music therapy sessions for outpatients at Lake Hospital, 60 per cent of whom were judged to be at risk from stress. The sessions were for small groups or individuals, and used either live or taped music in conjunction with verbal discussion to encourage the expression of feelings and to reduce anxiety.

Mandel judged the scheme to have been a considerable success. But, as with the majority of music therapy schemes, any formal measurement of success is difficult in the absence of a control sample. Mandel's case is also complicated because her music sessions involved lyrics, and it could just as easily have been the words rather than their musical expression that reduced stress and anxiety. However, judging from the high numbers of patients who chose to return for more than one music therapy session, Mandel appears to be justified in arguing that music was having some level of positive effect.

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps


Music therapy