A Personal Story

A personal story: Psychologist offers music as a way to help heal

By J. Freedom du Lac — Bee Pop Culture Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Sunday, Sept. 8, 2002

Psychologist and musician Bruce L. Thiessen, a.k.a. Dr. BLT, says his musical project is his particular weapon in the war on terrorism, “a weapon of mass construction.”Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo

Sacramento psychologist and musician Bruce L. Thiessen says he’s wielding his own weapon in the war on terrorism: his song book.

“It’s a weapon of mass construction,” Thiessen said. “I think music can really help people to cope with September 11th and with this anticipation we have of a foreshortened future. From a psychological standpoint, music can be very healing.”

Thiessen, 41, should know – he teaches a course on the psychology of music for Chapman University.

On Wednesday, he’ll release “One September Mournin’,” which he hopes will “provide an emotional outlet for the psychological trauma associated with the events of September 11th.”

Written by Thiessen and recorded by him (as “Dr. BLT”) with several other Sacramento artists, the songs include “Risin’ From the Rubble,” “One Nation Under God,” “I’ve Never Bin’ Laden” and the title track, “One September Mournin’.”

The latter, written shortly after the attacks, includes these lyrics: “Teardrops fall like rain against a broken skyline/I wonder if we’ll ever sleep again/Teardrops on the pain of my shattered window/I wonder if we’ll ever be the same.”

Not necessarily the typical mutterings of a psychologist. Which is too bad, says Thiessen.

“I don’t want to criticize my own kind,” he said. “But you can get kind of content sitting in your office dealing with the patient sitting in the chair rather than dealing with social ills and problems.

“So psychologists haven’t really taken the lead in offering solutions to the fear… from September 11th. We’ve been pretty quiet about all the trauma and the fear of the future. But we have a lot to offer. We can help heal.”

Proceeds from the project aren’t earmarked for charity. But Thiessen says he’s hardly cashing in on a calamity – an accusation some have levied against Bruce Springsteen, whose recent album “The Rising” was largely inspired by the terrorist attacks.

“I’m definitely going to end up in the hole,” Thiessen said. “But making money isn’t my motivation.”