Hearing the Tone of the Patient











I wrote yesterday about the value of singing lessons in the de-armoring process, and included some of my own self-observations about the value that singing brings to my own health. Today I’d like to talk about another aspect of my personal history with music, and how it helps me with the diagnosis of the patient. I had spent a few years in university studying all aspects of music, from theory and ear training classes, to history and other cultural aspects of music. As any musician knows, the study of music contains many depths of worlds within worlds which can be further discovered and articulated, like the many layers of a peeling onion.

Take any single aspect of music (such as a particular piece of music, or a certain performer, or a certain genre, for example), and further study will always reveal depths of its uniqueness and character not immediately visible from casual observation. Not only at the musical level itself, but also the entire historical and social context from which the music came from. A well-trained musical ear will hear a piece at multiple levels at once.

These musical skills which I honed now find their way translated into new forms inside the consult room, when I am observing the tone of the patient as part of the diagnosis. So often, the real content of the case is not contained in any of the words the patient says, but rather in the tone in which they say it. So many people repeat the same scripts and narratives about themselves  and their lives which seem to portray a certain story, yet which is incongruent with the tone that they use to deliver it.

From one month to the next, when I am discerning the effect that the latest remedy has had on the patient, they are often repeating their same old story to me, yet the tone has shifted. The tone, and the underlying state of mind are always the first to be shifted by the remedy, which is then followed by a shift in the physical symptoms. This is the reason that I am able to be as effective through a phone consult as I am in person. Most patients do not at first feel their own shift in tone, while they remain focussed and stuck on the apparent lack of change in their physical condition. My well-tuned ears, however, are acutely sensitive to these small yet significant shifts, and I can often bring them into focus enough for the patient to see this within themselves.

It’s no accident that Dr. Hahnemann referred to disease as being a “mistunement” of the living power!

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