Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wicked Patients with psychiatric disorders find hope in Tunefoolery


By Francis Ma

Boston - Since the age of 21, Paul Thompson has used medication and therapy to deal with his schizophrenia. He desperately needed both of them, but they failed to give him what he wanted.

“You don’t get a sense of structure,” says Thompson. “That’s sadly lacking in the psychiatric circles. You have so much time on your hands and you tend to dwell on your illness. The entire day revolved around the negativity of my illness.”

This cycle continued until Thompson, along with three other like-minded patients, did what any artist would do when confronted with a dire outlook on life: He started a band.

When Tunefoolery launched in 1994 at the Cambridge-Somerville Social Club, the goal was simple — to use music as an outlet for their creativity. What Thompson didn’t fully realize was that Tunefoolery would grow to 50 members, and provide that much-needed feeling of hope to others suffering from psychiatric disorders. (Thompson prefers the term “psychiatric disorder” to “mental illness” because of the stigma that comes with the latter.)

“With Tunefoolery, as opposed to focusing on the negative, it focuses on our strengths and talents,” explains Thompson. “I’ve seen a lot of people fall through the cracks and into despair with no light at the end of the tunnel. When people have something to look forward to, it gives them a positive perspective.”


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