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January 15th, 2020 10:18:47 pm

Phish as a Therapeutic Force

A Heuristic Self-Inquiry into the Therapeutic Qualities of the Phish Phenomenon

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In this paper, I detail and analyze the relationship between American rock band Phish and notions of therapeutic alliance. In considering how Phish has played a therapeutic role in my life, I examine memories of seeing Phish in concert and integrating myself into the Phish community, as well as time spent in psychoanalytic treatment. I put these lived experiences in conversation with philosophers and theorists who have written about the historical models and understandings of music as a therapeutic force, as well as with scholarship belonging to the field of music therapy. Through my self-inquiry, I analyze psychoanalysis and music therapy as theoretical models within the discipline of clinical psychology. I use psychologist Clark Moustakas’s heuristic research method in my exploration of the Phish phenomenon. This research strives to bring about equitable access to psychoanalysis. The field of psychoanalysis developed out of a need to address mental suffering at a time in which hypnosis and electroshock therapy were the dominant tools. Psychoanalytic technique introduced a therapy based around principles such as alliance, introspection, and discourses. All individuals should have the right to addressing mental conflict and emotional life with these principles in place. By writing about psychoanalytic practice, the perspective of the analysand, and contextualizing psychoanalytic work through discussions of art, culture, and performance, I attempt to reframe the theoretical framework and clinical techniques the field has come to represent.

Isaac Slone

Phish as a Therapeutic Force



In this paper, I detail and analyze the relationship between American rock band Phish and notions of therapeutic alliance. Rock band Phish has built a legacy centered on their live performances. Beyond the major accomplishments of the group’s three decades and growing career, the group has held on to their devout fan base in part because of their dedication to improvisation. Phish’s ability to provide the unexpected distinguishes them from most major touring acts that cultivate loyalty by performing songs the audience expects to hear. Many refer to the band’s following as a product of Phish’s “phenomenon.” The Grateful Dead are often cited as a comparable act with a similar following: fans return night after night and follow the band across the country (and occasionally the world) as no two shows are the same, varying in both setlist and performance.


In considering how Phish has played a therapeutic role in my life, I examine memories of seeing Phish in concert and integrating myself into the Phish community, as well as time spent in psychoanalytic treatment. I put these lived experiences in conversation with philosophers and theorists who have written about the historical models and understandings of music as a therapeutic force, as well as with scholarship belonging to the field of music therapy. Through my self-inquiry, I analyze psychoanalysis and music therapy as theoretical models within the discipline of clinical psychology. In doing so, I move away from an efficacy-driven mindset, which has come to dominate mainstream conversations around mental health, opting instead to consider what models of therapy offer by way of their theoretical foundations.[1] Phish fans tend to embrace synchronistic experiences as metaphysical affirmations of the power of the band, particularly in the context of Phish’s ethos extending into other realms. I ask my reader to consider the value of the theoretical work as well as the research method I present on this paper on their own, in relation to other narratives around mental health, and in conversation with the Phish phenomenon.

I use Clark Moustakas’s heuristic research method in my exploration of the Phish phenomenon. Moustakas conceptualizes the process of heuristic research as an “internal search through which one discovers the nature and meaning of experience and develops methods and procedures for further investigation and analysis.”[2] Moustakas was an American psychologist and a leading expert in the field of humanistic psychology. Humanistic psychology involves a rejection of “both the quantitative reductionism of behaviorism and the psychoanalytic emphasis on unconscious forces in favor of a view of man as uniquely creative and controlled by his own values and choices.”[3] Moustakas’s approach encourages using one’s direct and personal encounters with a phenomenon as the basis for research.

Phish Studies, a developing body of scholarship around the band, presents a compelling to scholars to engage with their direct and personal encounters with the Phish phenomenon and to put them in conversation with their academic focuses. The study of a lived experience challenges researchers to  ground one’s writing in a research method that includes the researcher’s view but goes beyond it as well. Moustakas grounds one’s writing in a framework in which “the initial ‘data’ is within [the researcher]; the challenge is to discover and explicate its nature.”[4] The methods Moustakas outlines for heuristic researchers to employ include: “self-search, self-dialogue, and self-discovery.”[5] I am compelled to use the heuristic research framework to explore the Phish phenomenon, as Phish plays a therapeutic role in my life, and I have heard many others speak, both implicitly and explicitly, of similar experiences. I analyze my experiences with Phish using Moustakas’s method, putting my findings in conversation with philosophers and critical theorists interested in music and therapy.

The relationship between the therapetuic alliance and music performance can be understood through Victor Turner’s idea of intersubjective illumination. The term ‘therapeutic allinace’ refers to a relationship between a patient and a therapist or analyst in which there’s shared mutual goals of engagement, as well as beneficial change on the part of the patient. Victor Turner, a noteable founder of the field of performance studies, writes of a total, unmediated relationship in which compatible people obtain “a flash of lucid mutual understanding on the existential level, when they feel that all problems, not just their problems, could be resolved, whether emotional or cognitive.” [6] This flash of understanding in which the resolution of problems feels possible can occur both in psychoanalysis, as well as in spaces of performance. In this way, the relationship between performers and their audience can be understood as a therapeutic alliance.

Background of Music as Medicine

The historical uses of music as a form of therapy provide a means of understanding the philosophical significance of music as a therapeutic force. British classical scholar Martin West sees the connection between music in medicine, “in all probability (though there is no direct proof) [as going] back to Paleolithic times.”[7] West’s examples of music as medicine from this period illuminate how medicine was at one point prescientific. This connection provides historical groundings to clinical an analytical investigations into the therapeutic uses of music that cannot be traced through science. Music was also considered supernatural, as for pre-scientific minds, the only attainable explanation for how instruments made music was that instruments had mysterious voices of their own – spirits that could be unlocked in the playing of the instrument. In order to cure illnesses, specialists such as shamans were called upon to contact, negotiate, and fight the evil magic or angry spirits, often using primitive musical instruments. Cultural understanding of music and medicine has developed into different vocabularies, some more scientific than others. Still, many shared qualities of the human condition remain beyond language, particularly in regards to our emotional lives. Further research on this topic might consider the justifications and limitations of scientific research which addresses music therapy, and how to effectively join scientific work with subjective, qualitative, and intepretive research.

The implementation of music in practices of therapy has given rise to the specific field of music therapy, a field that practices and conceptualizes music in ways applicable to a discussion of Phish. Music therapist and musicologist Even Ruud sees music therapy as meeting “the broader sociological and cultural needs of clients” by expanding the “possibilities for action” within the therapeutic space.[8] Ruud points to the need for a more expansive outlook on what constitutes a therapy in order to meet the real needs of clients. Mainstream models of therapy present methods of addressing our relationship to our psyches in ways that can prove as daunting, difficult, unaffordable or unworkable to some. Ruud describes the politics of music therapy and how claims of knowledge come to make up a discipline or practice, warning against the more mystical and less scientific understandings of music as medicine: “We should constantly remind ourselves that our discipline is surrounded by lots of mystical, speculative thinking, especially in this New Age era. People and ideas that are not always concerned with standards of rationality keep gravitating to our profession.”[9]

One can turn to clinical cases within music therapy to understand how the field has come to have a clinical practice. Music therapist Ken Aigen discusses working with a client: “[Lloyd] has few functional skills in language, socialization, or in the fine motor area. However, he has a nuanced musical sensitivity which he finds ways to express in spite of limited physical coordination.”[10] In this example, music serves as the raw material for therapeutic intervention in the way Ruud describes, allowing for a therapeutic alliance to form in the absence of language. The practice of placing music at the center of a therapeutic practice can help non-verbal individuals like Lloyd, as well as others who may experience different levels of difficulty with approaching our emotional lives through language.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche alludes to music’s ability to serve as the raw material for therapeutic intervention, while also recognizing music’s metaphysical qualities. In Birth of Tragedy (1872), Nietzsche writes,

[Written] myth shields us from music, while at the same time giving music its maximum freedom. In exchange, music endows the tragic myth with a convincing metaphysical significance, which the unsupported word and image could never achieve, and, moreover, through annihilation and negation, so that he is made to feel the very womb of things speaks audibly to him.[11]

 Nietzsche writes of music’s capacity to serve humans in ways in which other modes of communication, such as words and images, cannot. Nietzsche sees music as allowing individuals to better understand the origins of tragedy, as a newfound metaphysical meaning comes to negate meaning created through symbols and language. Nietzsche alludes to music as serving a metaphysical purpose, while also being of potential clinical benefit, as it can be employed when speech fails.

Heuristic Inquiry

I believe my therapeutic experiences, both in my psychoanalytic treatment and through seeing Phish have been healing in ways exemplary of the mystical or metaphysical, as well as the practiced and methodological qualities of music and therapy. Using Moustakas’s heuristic method, I entered into dialogues with myself and with the phenomenon, giving my personal experiences with Phish “unwavering attention and concentration . . . in order to understand its constituent qualities and its wholeness.”[12] These research strategies are not unlike what Phish fans do and conceptualize themselves doing on a regular basis: exploring the phenomenon through many of its facets with dedication in order to understand it better, as well as to derive more pleasure from what it offers.

Many Phish fans may go through the first phases of heuristic inquiry by way of their fandom, potentially without a direct research question in mind. Those practicing Phish studies can use the final exercises of the method to produce scholarship around their exploration of the phenomenon. These phases exemplify a mission to bring qualitative descriptions to experiences that are “unique and distinctive . . . and [that] depend on an internal frame of reference.”[13] Beyond its implications for Phish studies, Moustakas’s method calls for important contributions to the field of psychology. Moustakas’s approach exemplifies a means of moving beyond empirical or scientific research as a means of proving efficacy or truth. Experimental research methods tend to demand an authority that interpretive methods do not  Moustakas presents a research method that places emphasis on inward reflection and suggests that through such a process, the researcher actively awakens and transforms him/herself.[14] In a clinical context, this method could help to change one’s experience of his/herself as a patient/client into a researcher. The notion that the client can interpret and create based on the work of analysis has become known in the wider field of psychology as the generative framework and has been taken up in contemporary clinical practice. This framework allows the analysand (the one undergoing psychoanalysis) to transcend his/her status as the object of analysis to become “a subject, an agent, an author creating destiny from fate” (31). [15]

Initial Engagement

The first phase of Moustakas’s method, “initial engagement,” marks the moment when the researcher recognizes a phenomenon as having both social meaning and personal implications. Phish’s return from a 5-year hiatus coincided with my transition into high school in 2009. The reunion of the band also marked guitarist Trey Anastasio’s recovery from drug addiction. Anastasio’s sobriety has been understood by the band’s followers as a kind of rebirth. The band’s return following Anastasio’s arrest in 2006 and time spent in drug court allowed for a new generation to participate with the Phish phenomenon. The rebirth Anastasio experienced with sobriety contrasts the fall of Jerry Garcia, lead guitarist and, in many ways, leader of the Grateful Dead’s death in rehab following long struggles with addiction. Seeing Phish for the first time, I was aware that the band was entering into a new phase of their career.  

At this time, I found myself entirely compelled by rock music that many considered “before my time.” Ruud posits that rock music, particularly in its lyrics, often creates a “universe of signs that [creates] a space in which to articulate [feelings] about growing up, going to school, and interacting with society in general.”[16] Listeners of this kind of music make sense of their lives through this language, working out problems that arise in a humanized and controlled way. While I did my fair share of meaning making in this space of rock music, I felt somewhat skeptical of the boundaries of the associations I made with this music.

Adopting German philosopher Theodor Adorno’s critique of popular music presented in his essay “On Popular Music” (1941), I felt aware that I was acting out reflexes to the music I was listening to at the time—Morrissey, The Who, Patti Smith--that had already been discovered by generations before me.[17] While I was late to Phish as well, the band’s subversive lyrics and tendency towards spontaneity made me feel as though I could create a limitless and ever-changing universe of meaning in which to articulate my feelings. When Phish debuted the song “Backwards Down the Numberline” at their first show back from their hiatus, many registered the song as nostalgic and marking the passing of time. To me, it was a song about coming of age and newfound responsibility. The meaning and significance of Phish’s music bears multiple constructions depending upon the idiosyncratic prior experiences and the current stance of the particular listener. The message in Phish’s music is open to many different interpretations, perhaps contributing to the widespread appeal of the band.


Following one’s initial engagement, Moustakas’s method calls for an “immersion” with a phenomenon. Moustakas sees this process as allowing the individual researcher to “come to be on intimate terms with the [subject] – to live it and grow in knowledge and understanding of it.”[18] Phish fans often immerse themselves in Phish, whether through their catalog, over a stretch of a few shows, or an entire tour. Upon announcement of Phish’s return in 2009, I mapped out twelve shows on the band’s summer tour, making destination events such as Bonnaroo and Red Rocks family trips. By this time, I had been in psychoanalytic treatment for a number of years and had recognized that by way of attending cultural events, I became better able to discuss my internal life. I became deeply attached to an idea music therapist Even Ruud puts forth that “music reaches into or mirrors our personalities [or] our ‘true selves,’” and that “there might be some connection between music and the way we look at and present ourselves.”[19]

I was peripherally aware of Phish when they reunited, as my aunt followed the band in the late 1980s. I felt compelled by the discourse that follows the band, as I began to discuss the music with friends, family, and through my immersion with Phish’s community, others seeking to further their own understandings of Phish. The variations between performances and those who were dedicated to understanding the variations stood out as a mark of something I wanted to take part in. As Ruud writes, “Music cannot mechanically depict identities . . . It is all the talk about music that gives it meaning.”[20] I was ready to explore myself through the band’s phenomenon: to travel alongside them, make friends through an appreciation for them, and to let their music influence and shape my understanding of the world and myself. Ruud picks up on this quality of music discourse: “As many music therapists have found, there are also resources in music that can help bring out a feeling of mastery and empowerment in the young, furthering the process of social integration and enhancing a feeling of community.”[21] This sense of empowerment through the power, language, and affect of music is at the core of music therapy.

Psychoanalysis looks at identity formation in theory and in practice. Many psychoanalysts have written about the ways in which they see identities form and become practiced in individuals and collectives. The diversity of theories exemplifies the subjective nature of psychoanalysis, as the field refrains from championing a singular theory about identity as truth. Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s “The Mirror Stage as a Formative Function of the I” (1949) posits a theory about identity formation during infancy, in which one develops his/her identity around an idealized identity, which forms when an infant recognizes his/her image in a mirror.[22] As Ruud suggests, during adolescence, music can serve of as that mirror, helping individuals develop an idealized identity. Unlike some of the models of mental health treatment that rely on pathologies, my psychoanalytic treatment never pinned me with a diagnosis. I was able to explore my emotional life without the consequence of having it described through the language of a diagnostic manual. Many models of therapeutic treatment force individuals to grapple with diagnoses as a kind of mirror, which puts them at risk of living out pathologies rather than working to overcome them. Instead, I learned to tolerate a certain amount of ambiguity around my emotional life. Sometimes, I do not know what ails me or why, until I find ways (in and outside of analysis) to create meaning around and put into language what I feel.

The multiplicity of ways to make meaning out of Phish’s music and culture felt similar to my experiences in therapy, where I was practicing similar analytical exercise, using my lived experiences as the subject to make meaning with, rather than Phish’s catalog, jams, or other qualities . The work of my analysis was not to discover my objective history, but rather to better understand how I felt about my history, how it affects and has affected me. Within the Phish community, many fans analyze the band, perhaps assuming that they are reaching for objective truths. Oftentimes, these practices are built around understanding personal and collective preferences and criteria. Practices of analysis in psychoanalysis, heuristic research, and Phish fandom are interpretive, helping patients, fans, and researchers to build cohesive narratives around our not-so-objective realities.


Moustakas’s “incubation” stage could be thought of taking place when the band is less active or not touring. It is a time of reflection – to look, listen, and think back on one’s experience with the phenomenon and to understand it anew from afar.[23] Moustakas emphasizes that during this period, one recognizes an extending of one’s understanding of the phenomenon to other spaces and places. The extension of our understanding takes place in a variety of ways: some fans use the hashtag “#WeAreEverywhere” to convey a sense of the Phish universe spreading out spatially and temporally beyond the concert . There are also less literal ways in which this occurs, perhaps even on an unconscious level, at moments Phish fans use skills or philosophies adopted from the Phish environment in the outside world. I have come to notice that Phish shows mark time in a particular way, a quality of the band they perhaps reference in the lyric “You will always remember where you were” (from the song “Say it to me S.A.N.T.O.S.”[24]). Ruud’s definition of this role music plays as the “raw material” speaks to a wide breadth of ways music impacts the individual. As music becomes a way of mapping our lived experiences, it also helps us to understand our values, relationships and our positioning. A response to a message board topic entitled “Memorable Moments During Shows” captures this sentiment:

About 3 months ago we had to put our dog Halley to sleep. Whenever [Phish] would play “Halley's [Comet]” we would always smile and think of our dog (she was named after the song after all). When she died we were worried that the song would no longer be a happy occasion for us. So somehow it just felt like a meaningful little coincidence for us that our first Halley's after her passing was preceded by “Joy,” and we joyfully sang along in her honor.[25]


Moustakas’s “illumination” stage occurs for those studying Phish on an intellectual level, but also for those having other revelatory experiences with the band.[26] In this stage, one experiences a breakthrough in understanding with regards to a quality or qualities of a phenomenon. An example of a moment of illumination can be understood through a story of a personal experience I had at a Phish show which I wrote out as a part of a self dialogue exercise Moustakas encourages as a tool for drawing out qualities of lived experiences.

The Carribean Sea meets my ankles, my feet are planted in the sand. Phish has just taken the stage for the third night of their first voyage to Riviera Maya, Mexico. The event blends the phantasmic, ecstatic, and occasionally unruly environment of a Phish concert with the sheltered yet serene enclosure of an all-inclusive vacation in Mexico. In the short seconds between the lights going down and the band beginning to play, I consider how the Riviera Maya concerts had come to be: how the four-piece band from Vermont had extended their legacy up to that point, how their team marketed such a happening to a point at which the event sold out immediately, how there were people hard at work at all hours to ensure the weekend ran smoothly.

                Being newly twenty-one-years-old, I could not help but wonder how I fit in and what role I would play among this crowd in my adult life. I find myself thinking about my early childhood and time spent in psychoanalytic therapy. Here I am on the beach standing with two of my closest friends, one of whom with a background of successful experiences in therapy, thinking of my analyst. Thinking of my friend’s analyst. Thinking of two older well-dressed men with private practices in New York City. They are a part of this for us too  – just as much as anyone else there was. They helped us to understand our experiences with music as valuable tools for creating meaning in life. I am struck by a curiosity about what makes something therapeutic, and upon my return home, I decide to pursue further education in psychology.


         In the “explication” stage, the researcher enters into a practice of meaning making with what has become illuminated about the phenomenon. Though this process which Moustakas writes as being about “focusing, indwelling, self-searching, and self-disclosure,” the researcher develops a comprehensive depiction of the experience.[27] For the purposes of understanding Phish as a force of therapy, explication asks one to consider what Phish provides for its followers that cannot be found in other places or bands. Opportunities to participate with the present moment and with others in a way that allows for a positive physical and emotional attachment do not present themselves regularly in day-to-day life.

Under a capitalist social formation, our society revolves largely around production. French philosopher Louis Althusser’s idea of Ideological Status Apparatuses sees cultural production (along with other apparatuses such as the church and education) as a means of ensuring the capitalist relations of exploitation.[28] In participating with Phish’s tendency towards spontaneity throughout their shows, the audience explores what physicist and philosopher Werner Heisenberg would call “unpredictable eruptions from the unconscious.”[29] To see a band willing to perform at such a caliber, committing to the unknown without a great deal of certainty as to what lies in store for each concert, resonates with me personally and makes me more comfortable to show my own vulnerabilities in the contexts of the Phish community and in therapy. In this way, Phish’s artistic approach embodies my entire life philosophy.

As Phish has become a phenomenon studied at an academic level, some scholars have written about aspects of Phish that I address in this paper without addressing mental health. In her dissertation “Understanding ‘It’: Affective Authenticity, Space, and the Phish Scene” (2010), American Studies scholar Elizabeth Yeager utilizes data from six years of ethnographic field work to explore “how the production of space at Phish shows works to form a Phish scene identity” (iii).[30] Yeager traces the word “it” as one Phish fans use to describe the affective alliance they feel with Phish: “‘It’ provides common ground, gives meaning and is filled with meaning. It is undeniably dynamic. It is a place, a feeling, a moment, a time-space location, a consciousness, and a reason. It is an experience and it is embodied”.[31]

Yeager’s dissertation has become a foundational piece of Phish scholarship, as she defines the elusive qualities that draw people to Phish. She achieves this by contextualizing the space of Phish concerts and the connection fans feel to it in relationship to mainstream American culture, concluding that it provides Phish scene participants with a sense of escapism. She sees the Phish counterculture as a predominantly white “middle and upper-middle class performance of resistance.”[32] Yeager lays important groundwork to build upon when considering the therapeutic benefits of Phish, as her anthropological approach privies readers and researchers to what kinds of individuals may be circumstantially predisposed to feeling an affective alliance towards Phish.

Yeager’s reading of the Phish phenomenon as an act of resistance comes as no surprise, as Phish’s rejection of popular live music performance tropes and cultural norms becomes apparent to most fans of the band pretty quickly, yet her work expresses a quality of the Phish experience I overlooked for a long time. As the Phish phenomenon blossomed in the nineties and I came to it in 2009 following the band’s reunion, the resistant aspect of the culture was not as pronounced for me personally. Yeager focuses on Generation X, a demographic with birth years ranging from the 1960s to the early 1980s. Phish themselves and many of their fans fall into this demographic, while I fall into the following demographic of the Millennials (as I was born in 1994). Yeager and her references describe Generation X in their teenage years as deprived of a culture of their own and viewed by larger society as profitable consumers. Phish then became a means for individuals growing up in this time to feel as though they were a part of something larger.

Yeager sees the identity formation that occurs around the Phish phenomenon as occurring out of certain privileges. Yeager regularly discusses the social, economical, and cultural privileges that individuals within Phish’s audience typically have. Yeager calls the reader’s attention to these qualities as to better describe the community of people she writes about, but also to further understand what kind of resistance this community performs. Yeager writes: “Performances of resistance, such as Phish scene identity, help us to understand how people negotiate identities that question privilege (in this case class privilege) without giving it up.”[33] The power of questioning privilege without giving it up resonates with me personally, as I have brought questions pertaining to my own privileges to therapy - a space I have the privilege of working these questions out in. Before finding Phish, I often spoke about wanting to resist the lifestyle of my family and peers out of a fear of the culture that came along with such privileges.

I reached a conclusion in therapy that efforts to try and simulate different life circumstances  would prove futile and were utopic to begin with. I could, however, remain critical of what it meant to have such privileges, as well as what said privileges meant for the larger culture I was identifiably a part of. While my friends in high school had season passes to sporting events, it seemed preposterous to them that I would see the same band multiple nights in a row. While both activities could be understood as emblematic of a kind of privilege, many did not understand the communal quality of the Phish show space. The relationship I have to the Phish community and particularly to my corner of it has helped me to remain critical of the larger cultural contexts I find myself in. I carry who I am within the context of the Phish community to all of what I do, with hopes that my feelings of belonging, excitement, dedication, and more can offer a lot to the world beyond the Phish show.

As a millennial, I grew up with access to music and other cultural mediums at my fingertips – another kind of privilege allotted by technological advancement. Because of this access, I have, from a very young age, felt a sense of responsibility for making sense of the cultural works that have come before me to better understand what they represent and how they serve us. I have felt this to be particularly true in the case of cultural works I feel I can identify with, which just so happens to be art that many classify as long-form or extended (jam music, Wagnerian operas, James Joyce’s Ulysses), and that has a specific cultural following. Though some may criticize these works for their lack of a drive to conform to traditional expectations of length, style, entertainment value, and more, I have always understood them as voicing perspectives outside the mainstream, while also speaking to and directly challenging the mainstream. In many instances, these works become a point of identification for enough individuals and communities over time to be revered as great, groundbreaking works of their genres.

Broader Relevance

                States of mental suffering can impact one’s quality of life and the number of different therapies available can be confusing and aggravating. These approaches often position themselves in opposition to each other in a battle over efficacy.[34] Understanding how a therapy works, as well as what constitutes a therapy, can prove important to an individual’s success in therapy. Psychiatrist Jerome Frank writes: “[It] is not that technique is irrelevant to outcome. Rather, . . . the success of all techniques depends on the patient’s sense of alliance with an actual or symbolic healer.”[35] The alliance followers of Phish, such as myself, feel towards the band, its members, and its music exemplifies such a relationship. As a Phish follower, I find myself looking for new ways to explain the phenomenon and my relationship to it to those who do not take part in it, or are new to it. I find myself reverting to the common explanation: “Phish is more than just a band” or “it’s more than just a concert,” yet these phrases do little to articulate what that “more” references. Moustakas’s method offers a means of revealing the truths of lived experiences, allowing for individuals to speak about their therapies, mental health, and more using a methodology that, in Moutakas’s words, “defies the shackles of convention and tradition . . . [and] pushes beyond the know, the expected, or the merely possible.”[36]

        Furthermore, this research strives to bring about equitable access to psychoanalysis. The field of psychoanalysis developed out of a need to address mental suffering at a time in which hypnosis and electroshock therapy were the dominant tools. Psychoanalytic technique introduced a therapy based around principles such as alliance, introspection, and discourses. All individuals should have the right to addressing mental conflict and emotional life with these principles in place. By writing about psychoanalytic practice, the perspective of the analysand, and contextualizing psychoanalytic work through discussions of art, culture, and performance, I attempt to reframe the theoretical framework and clinical techniques the field has come to represent.


[1] Elsie Jones-Smith, Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy: An Integrative Approach (2nd edition), (California, Sage, 2016), 8.

[2] Clark Moustakas, Heuristic Research: Design, Methodology, and Applications (1st edition), (California, Sage, 1990), 9.

[3] Robert Jean Campbell, Psychiatric Dictionary (6th edition), (New York, Oxford University Press, 1989), 229.

[4] Moustakas, Heuristic Research, 13.

[5] Ibid., 11.

[6] Richard Schechner, Performance Studies: An Introduction (3rd edition), (New York, Routledge, 2013), 71.

[7] West, Martin. “Music Therapy in Antiquity,” in Music as Medicine, edited by Pedegrine Horden, 51-68. (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2000), 51.

[8] Even Ruud, Music Therapy: Improvisation, Communication, and Culture, (Gilsum, Barcelona Publishers, 1998), 3.

[9] Ibid., 8.

[10] Kenneth  Aigen, Playin’ in the Band: a Qualitative Study of Popular Music Styles as Clinical Improvisation, (Gilsum, Barcelona Publishers, 2005), 32.

[11] Janzen, John M. “Theories of Music in African Ngoma Healing,” in Music Healing in Cultural Contexts, edited by Penelope Gouk, 46-66. (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2000), 57.

[12] Moustakas, Heuristic Research, 24.

[13] Ibid., 31.

[14] Ibid., 13.

[15] Aron, L., & Atlas, G. Dramatic Dialogue: Contemporary Clincial Practice, (New York, Routledge, 2018), 31.

[16] Ruud, Music Therapy, 94.

[17] Theodor W. Adorno, “On Popular Music,” Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, IX (1941): 17-48.

[18] Moustakas, Heuristic Research, 28.

[19] Ruud, Music Therapy, 31.

[20] Ibid., 37.

[21] Ibid., 85.

[22] Jacques Lacan, Écrits: A Selection, (New York, Taylor and Francis, 1977), 172-175.

[23] Moustakas, Heuristic Research, 28.

[24] Phish, “Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.,” Recorded October 31, 2018, track 5 on Kasvot Växt: í rokk (Live), JEMP Records, 2018.

[25] MattG, “Memorable Moments During Shows,”, 2001, Accessed June 3, 2019.

[26] Moustakas, Heuristic Research, 29.

[27] Ibid., 31.

[28] Louise Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays (New York, NY, Monthly Review Press, 1968), 127-186.

[29] Schechner, Performance Studies, 111.

[30] Elizabeth Yeager, “Understanding ‘It’: Affective Authenticity, Space, and the Phish Scene” (Doctoral diss, University of Kansas, 2010, iii).

[31] Ibid., 19.

[32] Ibid., 195.

[33] Ibid., 198.

[34] Jones-Smith Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy, 8-9.

[35] Bradley Lewis, Narrative Psychiatry: How Stories Can Shape Clinical Practice, (Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 2011), 38.

[36] Moustakas, Heuristic Research, 17.




    Slone, Isaac, "Phish as a Therapeutic Force," (2020).



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