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Professional News
Do Troubled Times Need More Music?
Psychiatric News
Volume 44 Number 8 page 10-10

Master concert pianist and psychiatrist Richard Kogan, M.D., performed Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" at this year's World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland, January 28 to February 1. FIG1

Kogan, who has for a number of years brought his talents to APA's annual meeting, also delivered an address titled "The Power of Music in Healing Mind and Body." And he participated in the panel discussions" Recession, Depression, and the Road to Recovery" and" Political Art: What Now?"

The latter was a discussion of how art has shaped political agendas and promoted global causes.

"I was invited as a psychiatrist and as a musician to talk about the healing impact of music and its unparalleled capacity to soothe anxiety, reduce pain, and lift spirits," Kogan told Psychiatric News." This was at a time when a fair amount of the meeting was by most accounts more somber than it has been in the past 30 years because of the global economic crisis."

Kogan is codirector of the Human Sexuality Program at Weill Cornell Medical College and cochair of the Weill Cornell Music-Medicine Initiative.

Also speaking at the session on "Recession, Depression, and the Road to Recovery" was Thomas Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health. Insel presented data suggesting an association between economic downturns and the incidence of depression and anxiety.

Kogan emphasized in his remarks that music, at its most powerful, is a communal experience. "Much music today is consumed in an isolated way, but music is most healing when it is experienced in a communal manner, when people are listening or singing in groups."

He also spoke about the relationship between music and resiliency, citing the example of Ludwig van Beethoven. His adult-onset deafness was the source of a profound trauma for the composer, but he went on to compose his greatest music.

George Gershwin experienced behavioral problems as a child stemming from what today would likely be diagnosed as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Kogan said. "But he discovered music early on and was completely transformed by it," he said.

The World Economic Forum is an independent, international organization incorporated as a Swiss not-for-profit foundation. The annual forum brings together world leaders in diverse fields to discuss global economic development. The theme of this year's forum was "Shaping the Post-Crisis World." ▪

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