Drums are Better Therapy than Guns for Mental Health

Drums not guns for brain health
Drums not guns for brain health
Animal Spirits surround Stephen at this 2010 Drum Circle
Animal Spirits surround Stephen at this 2010 Drum Circle

Guns vs. Drums: Which is better for your mental health?

 

There’s been another mass shooting in the U.S., and this time at a community college in Oregon. Like so many of the other shooters of these mass shootings, the shooter also suffered from a learning disability and likely related sensory processing disorder (SPD) and mental health issues. But why are these individuals and their families advocating the use of guns and related shooting activities say at gun ranges – as a form of MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY?

Brain health, mental health, and sensory processing disorder will be the biggest challenge of the 21st Century.
Brain health, mental health, and sensory processing disorder will be the biggest challenge of the 21st Century.

But unlike President Obama and so many gun control advocates (and zealots), I see this from a different angle. I see it from the perspective of misguided practices across the U.S. for persons with developmental, learning, and mental health disorders – whose families believe that gun recreation & shooting is the right THERAPY for their brain health challenges.

Now I know a lot about brain health as I have been living with the disorder, hydrocephalus, since a 1992 auto accident, and became a neuroscientist and drum circle facilitator as a result of challenges I and so many others face today. I put on drumming workshops for a wide variety of brain disorders. I see with from a different angle, and I see firsthand how engagement activities can help, or hurt the affected individual.

My heart goes out to the families with children with developmental and mental health disorders as they’ve been looking for activities and outreach for their children for many years. I see the parents’ fear and exhaustion when they bring their adult children to my workshops. But in the case of so many of the mass shootings in the U.S. over the past 20 years, it appears many were carried out by individuals with development or brain health challenges, and it was their parents that got them into gun recreation – thinking it will bring them peace and help them better integrate into society. But, what we’re finding in these shootings, is that they are mis-using the guns to act on “untreated” brain health issues. And in these cases, other activities and therapies need be undertaken.

There is actually a lot of similarities in the sensory and personal qualities of guns vs. drums. In each, it is the vibration and sounds that provides a brain “buzz” of sorts. Both also give the individual an enhanced feeling of importance. But that’s where it ends!

Affected individuals are often drawn to activities like guns, drums, and even auto racing for the sensory “highs” they provide, much like a drug. Parents often feel gun recreation and therapy helps maintain calm, and ward off mental health and SPD meltdowns. But the brains of many of these individuals are often not high functioning enough to know the difference between right vs. wrong –  and with a gun, automobile, or other deadly device, it can be a lethal combination. And the vast majority of affected individuals also face challenges in cognition, sensory processing disorder, and cognitive accessibility. In medical terminology, I would call ill-advised recreation with guns “contraindicated.” And as for alternatives, there are many!

HB Pier Plaza Drum Circle
HB Pier Plaza Drum Circle

I have been involved with drumming, or drum circles, for 11 years now, and I put on a variety of drumming workshops for the brain, and with excellent results.

The sound & vibration of the drums effects one’s brain waves, and its group activity qualities allow for team building, leadership, and creative expression. On a therapeutic level, drumming acts as neurofeedback, sensory, and occupational therapy all in one, and helps to normalize associated cognitive, behavioral, and sensory complaints in these disorders.

Drumming for wellness helps seniors and those facing chronic illness
Drumming for wellness helps seniors and those facing chronic illness

My web site and blog links below detail health science information drumming, basketball, and alternative medicine modalities

Basketball allows participants to feel and move rhythmically with a touch sensitive ball
Basketball allows participants to feel and move rhythmically with a touch sensitive ball

Drumming for Wellness

What is a Drum Circle

Drumming for the Brain in the Workplace

The Brain Science of Basketball

Alternative Medicine for Addiction and Mental Health Treatment

Cognitive Accessibility

Cognitive Accessibility accommodations er CognitiveAccessibility.org
Cognitive Accessibility accommodations er CognitiveAccessibility.org

Again, to me the bigger issue is WHY parents are advocating the use of guns & gun recreation in unstable children with mental health disorders? There are so so many recreational and outreach activities far more ideal for these children, many of whom are now adults.

On a political level, it seems the Obama administration is more concerned with gun control, and the plight of illigal immigrants and refugees from Syria, than the plight of Americans and American families with children with developmental and mental health disorders.

In my view, these shootings are not so much a problem about guns, but a problem about the lack of understanding of mental and developmental health, and how to best care for these individuals as adults. Sixty years ago, many of these shooters might have been institutionalized. We’ve moved away from that, but we’ve failed to modernize our practices. This has been an evolving crisis for many years!

In my addiction blog above, I detail the science of many of these disorders, and share results from many alternative and sensory therapies. In addiction disorders, both mental health and learning disorders often occur together as “dual disorders.” I recently spoke on this new area of brain science at Sovereign Health. I am involved with drumming and drum circles for these disorders, and have seen great results.

Stephen Dolle
Neuroscientist
Dolle Communications

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Basketball helps homeless thru rhythm and the brain

Drumming for basbetball workshops aid movement, timing, and on court communications
Drumming for basbetball workshops aid movement, timing, and on court communications

I gave a basketball lesson to a homeless man @ my area park today. And he really got made. Research shows basketball, drumming, and other physical movement activities can help the homeless. In addition, the resulting dialogue from the activity further aids the brain & mental health.

I shoot at the court twice a week and run a series of movement, balance, and applied kinesiology (AK) drills to help with health issues due to my hydrocephalus (brain) and stress. I normally don’t like to shoot or involves others, as it can be a distraction from a good work out, esp. homeless people who frequent this park. Sometimes I also incorporate drumming too. But without instruments, I incorporate my rhythm & movement thru timing of footwork, dribbling, moving, and shooting. So when this homeless guy walked up today hoping to play, he didn’t realize he was walking into my basketball CLASS!

Activities such as basketball, and drumming too, highly involve muscle memory, or proprioception. Though movement originates in the brain, once started and the body engaged, your body and muscle memory take over thru rhythmic movement, patterning, footwork, and shooting. An auto-pilot of sorts of body movement with little thinking (ideally). If you follow sports, you will hear a lot of experts speak about the importance of footwork. And footwork along with dribbling is something I work rigorously on the court, and which I worked with this gentleman today.

In the homeless population, activities like basketball and drumming are ideal for confidence, self-esteem, and managing stress. It is widely recognized that movement engages the hemispheres of the brain, and quiets the mind. And in these regards, basketball, drumming, and rhythmic movement are then good for mental health. Back in 2011-12, I put on drumming at the Friendship Shelter in Laguna Beach for just these reasons, and sharing my knowledge.

So, when decided to let this homeless guy join me today, he became part of my class, and I proceeded to give him tips and direction on shooting. The move I gave him, the move he wanted to know. It was an off day for me as I’m not feeling that great. But still I was able to shoot well enough that he saw I know what I’m talking about. And it is cool to watch this at work. As the guy began to improve and complete some shots, his success drew happiness, appreciation, and dialogue, and then he began to reminisce about his father growing up, and playing sports in high school. I bet he hadn’t seen his family in a long time. He had a friend with him too, but this man was not sober or well enough to join us. But he seemed to benefit from our positive energy and his friend’s joyfulness on the court.

Boss BR-8 includes a full 50 selection Metronome
Boss BR-8 includes a full 50 selection Metronome

Please SEE my 2002 cognitive neuroscience study on sound and sound processing in sensory processing disorder, or SPD, where I employed a Boss recorder and metronome a conducted a review of some 50 rhythmic patterns. I later correlated improved tolerance to white noise sound from participation in group drumming.

In June 2015, after initial publish of this blog, I authored an in depth related blog:

Brain Science vs. the Sports Science of Basketball

I’ve also undertaken some efforts with cognitive accessibility with the following domain which currently points to the cognitive accessibility page on my web site:

Cognitive Accessibility.org

Cognitive Accessibility.org currently under construction
Cognitive Accessibility.org currently under construction

DolleCommunications Blog on Cognitive Accessibility and Sound Sensory Processing

Here is a cool story of outreach using basketball to help the homeless, entitled

Jesus, Basketball, and the Homeless

Contact me for more information on speaking, consulting, or to schedule a drum circle.

Stephen Dolle
Dolle Communications
Drum Circle Facilitation, Neurological Hydrocephalus Consults, mHealth
Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com