Melophobia (music phobia): symptoms, causes and treatment
They say that music is the language of the soul. Not in vain, through it the human being has been able to communicate and express their emotions and anguish from the most remote antiquity.
Most find this concept deeply pleasant and enjoyable, using it to relax or vibrate with it, and even find it inconceivable to live without music. But although it is unusual, some people feel a deep dread invalidating when they hear any piece of music. It's about people with melophobia , a strange phobia we are going to talk about.
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What is melophobia?
The melophobic concept refers to the existence of music phobia, that is to say the irrational emergence of a very high level of panic, fear and anguish when exposed to any type of music or melody.
It is important to keep in mind that melophobia it's not a simple dislike or dislike for music , but it is established as a pathological fear that the subject himself considers to be not logical or excessive for the possible risk that could be represented in reality. Approaching or even thinking about exposing oneself to the feared, in this case the music, generates a very high anxiety and suffering which usually translate into an affectation at the physiological level.
Among the physiological symptoms that usually appear as a consequence of this anxiety we can find the presence of tachycardia, hyperventilation, cold sweat, agitation or pain in the chest. In addition to this, depersonalization or a sense of unreality usually appear, as well as fear of loss of bodily control or even the possibility of dying, and it is possible that the subject suffers from an anxiety crisis.
All this makes the subject tend to avoid the feared in order not to feel this anxiety, something that can generate repercussions in the day to day of the person. In the case of fear of music, these subjects avoid situations such as concerts, discos, parties or even celebrations as much as possible . It is also common for radio or even television to not be turned on.
But not only that, and is that beyond spaces in which it is intended to listen to music per se we can also find music in almost every social event or in almost any local. From a supermarket to a workplace, including public transport, are places where some kind of melody will play at some point.
It is also possible that other alternative measures are used to eliminate or reduce the level of sound reaching the ears, such as plugs.
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Melophobia is a very rare alteration, the causes of which are not completely known and which may come or be influenced by very different factors. In some phobias it is sometimes considered that there is a certain biological predisposition to suffer from it , as in the fear of animals. However, in this sense there does not seem to be a situation at the biological level that can facilitate the emergence of avoidant and phobic behavior.
Perhaps singing could be considered as a stimulus used since antiquity to generate expectation or give some kind of warning, in some cases negative.
Another of the theories is that which links the emergence of this or other phobias as a defense mechanism to a painful and emotionally stimulating stimulus, such as the death of a close loved one or an experience experienced as traumatic or highly aversive.
In this case it is possible that if the painful and traumatic experience has been associated with music This is seen as something negative and anxious and therefore ends up being avoided. For example, the fact that you were listening to music at the time of the death of a relative, the diagnosis of a disease or suffered some type of abuse or damage are situations in which sound has been conditioned as an aversive stimulus by linking to the painful situation in question.
It is also worth considering the possibility that this phobia may arise secondary to any medical condition related to hearing, or as a reaction to excessive sound stimulation that has generated great discomfort. The clearest example is that of people with hyperacusis, who perceive as much more intense and annoying stimulations relatively lower than the average. In this case it would not be a primary phobia but rather secondary to the health problem manifested.
Although melophobia is a strange and unusual disorder, the truth is that it can be worked in therapy in order to try to put an end to the problem or an increase in the feeling of control in the felt anxiety.
In this sense, one of the main strategies that is usually used is going to be to use exposure therapy. In this type of therapy it is intended that the subject reduces the anxiety felt based on face the situations you fear and stay in them without avoiding them until the anxiety is greatly reduced. The objective is not really to eliminate anxiety, but to learn to manage it and reduce it.
To do this, a hierarchy of exposure will first be elaborated, in which between patient and therapist a series of situations or activities are established that appear phobic stimuli and that generate the patient more or less anxiety, and then order them. Subsequently the subject will be exposed to each of them, going to the next only when at least two consecutive tests anxiety levels are virtually non-existent.
For example, in the case of music, the subject may be exposed to small soft tunes, with semi-closed ears, and gradually increase the volume and duration of the piece of music, or go to place as shopping centers, hear entire songs or even finish going to a concert.
In addition, cognitive restructuring can be useful to modify beliefs that may be at the base of panic to hear music. In this sense it may be necessary to debate and make the subject reflect on what music means to him and to what he attributes fear to it. After that we can try to help the subject to observe and elaborate possible alternative beliefs that could be much more adaptive.
The relaxation techniques are also fundamental, since they allow to diminish the tone and the activation generated by the exhibition. In fact, they can be used in the aforementioned hierarchy to do instead of exposure a systematic desensitization (in which the aim is to reduce anxiety by emitting a response incompatible with it).
- Bourne, E. J. (2005). The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, 4th ed. New Harbinger Publications.