The last hippie or Music and Brain

by Ulla Sarja Psychotherapist, educator, coach

In the 60's Greg H was a young man. 1967, The Summer of Love, he started using drugs, dropped out of school and joined the East Village drug culture. Later he stopped using drugs and became a member of the Hare Christna, the Cristhna Consciousness, like so many others during that time. 1971 he was sent from Brooklyn to the temple in New Orleans, he was "the Holy One."

His parents had met him once in a while but not regularly. At this time, his vision got worse but it was explained in a spiritual way, and he often sat silently, as if he was in a trance, with  strange facial expressions, smiling. His parents became worried and wanted to see their son and when they finally met him they were shocked. He just repeated "idiotic phrases" and had a stupid smile on your face (his father told it), singing small songs. He had grown fat and he was totally blind.

His parents took him to the neurosurgeon and it was found that he had a tumor, big as a grapefruit, in his brain and the tumor was pressing the frontal lobes and the temporal lobes, and some other parts of the brain.

Oliver Sacks, who has written the story of Greg, first met him 1977. It turned out that Greg didn´t understand that he had problems. He didn´t even know he was blind. He was watching TV and when he listened to the soundtracks he thought that he was watching TV. When he was asked "who is is the President of USA?”, he answered "Lyndon." When Dr. Sacks gave him a clue "Jimmy," said Greg "Jimi Hendrix".

It was obvious that Greg actually had no memories after 1970. He remembered the years 1966 and 1967 completely, and, he remembered parts of 1968 -69, but from 1970 and onwards, there were only a few fragmentary memories. Because he loved music he remembered all his favorite musicians, especially the Grateful Dead. He remembered the concerts that he had visited, he could sing the songs and he knew what the members of the band were called. In the 60's. He told how he had seen them in Central Park; he remembered their entire repertoire in detail. The favorite was Tobacco Road and he could sing it totally correct. When he was asked when he saw them in Central Park, he replied that it was probably about a year ago. In fact, it was eight years ago they had played there, in 1967.

Greg remembered all the music from 1964-1969, but he didn´t know that Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Pigpen were dead.

1991 Grateful Dead was playing at Madison Square Garden. Oliver Sacks bought tickets to the concert for himself and for Greg. When they arrived there, Greg was talking about the concert he had seen it in the 60s. Since the band began with old songs Greg recognized every song and was singing along and he enjoyed every minute. Of course he was living in the 60's, or thought he was living in the 60´s.  When the band started playing their newer songs Greg was pensive. He said it sounds familiar but: "I guess it's some new experimental stuff," "Something They Never Played before. Sounds futuristic ".

The day after the concert Dr. Sacks went to meet Greg and he asked about the Grateful Dead. The answer was: "Great group, I love them. I Heard them at Central Park and at the Fillmore East ". Dr. Sacks said, "Yes, you told me. But have you seen since then? Didn´t you just hear them at Madison Square Garden? "

"No, I've never been to the Garden".

This is a true story of how an injury to the brain can affect one in a very strange way. More about this can be found in Oliver Sacks’ books.

You can succesfully use music when you try to get someone with a brain injury or Alzheimers to remember, to make their life better. If you want to know more about this, please contact me and I tell you more.

The photo comes from Swedish Alzheimer association.

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About Ulla Sarja Committed   Psychotherapist, educator, coach

360 connections, 4 recommendations, 1,026 honor points.
Joined APSense since, July 1st, 2012, From Mariestad, Sweden.

Created on Dec 31st 1969 18:00. Viewed 0 times.


Ulla Sarja Committed  Psychotherapist, educator, coach
This text is before published in one of my blogs!
Feb 17th 2013 05:27   
Slavica P. Senior  El.Eng., Team Leader
Thank you ... Sometimes, we forget the really important things ...
Feb 17th 2013 11:06   
Ulla Sarja Committed  Psychotherapist, educator, coach
Yes we do, small things can make a big difference in someone´s life...thanks for reading...
Feb 17th 2013 11:08    Edited in Feb 17th 2013 12:32
Dragan Tomic Advanced  savjetnik
lijepi pozdrav iz Zagreba
Feb 17th 2013 11:56   
Marius Wlassak Magnate II   Business Media Consultant
;) Thanks Ulla, great one... as always :)
Mar 4th 2013 00:04   
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