The change of music preferences following the onset of a mental disorder

Stefan Gebhardt (Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Marburg;)
Richard von Georgi (Department of Music Science and Music Education, University of Giessen; International Psychoanalytic University of Berlin, Germany)

Mental Illness

ISSN: 2036-7465

Article publication date: 24 February 2015

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A psychiatric population (n=123) was examined on how music preferences had changed after the onset of a mental disorder. Most patients did not change their previous music preference; this group of patients considered music helpful for their mental state, showed more attractivity and enforcement as personality traits and used music more for emotion modulation. Patients who experienced a preference shift reported that music had impaired them during the time of illness; these patients showed less ego-strength, less confidence and less enforcement and used music less for arousal modulation. A third subgroup stopped listening to music completely after the onset of the mental disorder; these patients attribute less importance to music and also reported that music had impaired their mental state. They showed more ego-strength and used music less for emotion modulation. The results suggest that the use of music in everyday life can be helpful as an emotion modulation strategy. However, some patients might need instructions on how to use music in a functional way and not a dysfunctional one. Psychiatrists and psychotherapists as well as music therapists should be aware of emotion modulation strategies, subjective valence of music and personality traits of their patients. Due to the ubiquity of music, psychoeducative instructions on how to use music in everyday life plays an increasing role in the treatment of mental illness.



Gebhardt, S. and von Georgi, R. (2015), "The change of music preferences following the onset of a mental disorder", Mental Illness, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 21-25.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015 S. Gebhardt and R. von Georgi


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (by-nc 3.0).

Corresponding author

Stefan Gebhardt, Rudolf-Bultman-Strasse 8,35033 Marburg, Germany. Tel.: +49.6222.552001 - Fax +49.6222.552912001.

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