Music, Bonding, and Personal Growth: Merle Haggard’s Musical Journey toward Wholeness. Discussion of “A Place to Fall Apart, A Reading of Merle Haggard’s Music” by Richard P. Wheeler.
by Howard M. Katz, MD
A Place to Fall Apart: Merle Haggard’s Music, by Richard P. Wheeler, was awarded BPSI’s Silberger Paper Prize and presented at BPSI in 2017, with Howard Katz, MD, as the invited discussant. Dr. Katz’s paper, Music, Bonding and Personal Growth: Merle Haggard’s Musical Journey toward Wholeness was published along with Dr. Wheeler’s contribution in American Imago in 2018.
Dr. Wheeler’s paper explores the roots, the meaning, and the working through of personal challenges through Haggard’s songwriting and is a contribution to the extensive body of psychoanalytically informed literature on how individuals’artistic efforts may be part of a working through process to cope with trauma and conflict. Dr. Wheeler focuses on the poetry of the lyrics. Richard Wheeler, PhD, studied psychoanalytic criticism with C. L. Barber, Norman Holland, and Murray Schwartz at SUNY/Buffalo before joining the University of Illinois English faculty in 1969. He published psychoanalytically oriented criticism of Shakespeare and Elizabethan drama, D. H. Lawrence, and W. B. Yeats. His principle effort was to identify and clarify psychological patterns that shape Shakespeare’s art and to link patterns in the art to what is known of the life. He spent his entire academic career at Illinois, as faculty member, department head, graduate dean, vice provost, and interim provost, and is now a senior advisor for Academic Analytics. American Imago, 75(3): 415-439, Fall 2018.
Dr. Katz’s contribution compliments Dr. Wheeler’s more linguisitic and literary focus with a consideration of the musical dimension. His paper explores how the music itself played a healing and unifying role for Haggard. Further, Dr. Katz’s consideration of Haggard’s musical journey is employed to exemplify the ubiquitous musical dimension of everyday life, of relational experience and of psychotherapeutic processes. He argues for recognition of the place of music in affective experience and in our way of feeling the pulse, rhythm, and tone of life. Howard Katz, M.D. is on the faculties of the Harvard Medical School at McLean Hospital and the Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, where he is a Training and Supervising Analyst. Dr. Katz’s most recent publications join his interest and research background in dreaming with a developing view of the neurobiological and developmental roots of athletic endeavors, broadly conceived, and their role in patterning of identity and relational constructs and in regulation of affect and self-esteem. American Imago, 75(3): 441-453, Fall 2018.
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