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Experiences of mental illness through music

Sean Baumann, psychiatrist, talks about his motivation for making this cantata.

Sean Baumann is a senior specialist psychiatrist in UCT’s Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health. He has long been frustrated by misrepresentations of mental illness, and in attempting to move beyond a reductive medical model, Sean has used music to offer rich representations of mental illness.

Sean decided to use music to offer a different, more realistic and respectful view of mental illness. People who go through episodes of mental illness are often seen as foolish, crazy and violent. Doctors and nurses are sometimes seen to be attempting to impose a social order, and considered unimaginative and coldly objective. So Sean decided to make a creative musical piece – a cantata – to try and show a more sympathetic, genuine and subjective side of mental illness. Sean thinks that using art like music and imagery helps us to think more imaginatively and sympathetically about treating mental illness. In this way art can enrich medical science. Listen as Sean talks through his motivations for making this cantata.

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Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare

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