Melophobia (music Phobia): Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Melophobia

They say that music is the language of the soul. Not in vain, through it, human beings have been able to communicate and express their emotions and anguish since ancient times.

Most find this concept deeply pleasant and pleasurable, 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, highly disabling dread when they hear any piece of music. These are people with melophobia a strange phobia that we are going to talk about.

What is melophobia?

The concept melophobia refers to the existence of a phobia of music, that is, the irrational emergence of a very high level of panic, dread and anguish when exposed to any type of music or melody.

It is important to keep in mind that melophobia It is not a simple dislike or distaste for music, but rather it is established as a pathological fear that the subject himself considers not logical or excessive for the possible risk that it could represent in reality. Approaching or even thinking about exposing yourself to what is feared, in this case music, generates very high anxiety and suffering which usually translates into affectation at a physiological level.

Symptoms

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 chest pain. In addition to this, depersonalization or a feeling of unreality usually appears, as well as fear of loss of bodily control or even the possibility of dying, and it is possible that the subject suffers an anxiety crisis.

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All of this makes the subject tend to avoid what is feared in order to not feel this anxiety, something that can have repercussions on the person’s daily life. In the case of fear of music, these subjects Avoid situations such as concerts, clubs, parties or even celebrations as much as possible It is also common for the radio or even the television not to be turned on.

But not only that, and beyond spaces where we intend to listen to music per se, we can also find music at almost any social event or in almost any venue. From a supermarket to a workplace, even public transportation, these are places where some type of melody will play at some point.

In addition, other alternative measures may be used to eliminate or reduce the level of sound that reaches the ears, such as earplugs.

Possible causes

Melophobia is a very rare disorder, the causes of which are not completely known and which can come from or be influenced by very diverse factors. In some phobias it is sometimes considered that there is a certain biological predisposition to suffer from it, as occurs in the fear of animals. However, in this sense, there does not seem to be a situation at a biological level that can facilitate the emergence of avoidant and phobic behavior.

Perhaps singing could be considered as a stimulus used since ancient times to generate expectation or give some type of warning, in some cases negative.

Another theory is the one that links the emergence of this or other phobias as a defense mechanism against a painful and emotionally shocking stimulus, such as the death of a close loved one or an experience experienced as traumatic or highly aversive.

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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 anxiety-inducing and therefore ends up being avoided. For example, the fact that music was being listened to at the time of the death of a family member, the diagnosis of an illness or some type of abuse or harm were suffered 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 arises secondary to some medical alteration linked 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 stimulations that are relatively lower than average as much more intense and annoying. In this case it would not be a primary phobia but rather secondary to the manifested health problem.

Treatment

Although melophobia is a strange and unusual disorder, the truth is that can be worked on in therapy in order to try to give an end to the problem or an increase in the feeling of control in the anxiety felt.

In this sense, one of the main strategies that is usually used will be to use exposure therapy. In this type of therapy, the subject is intended to reduce the anxiety felt through face the situations you fear and stay in them without avoiding them until the anxiety is greatly reduced. The goal is not actually to eliminate anxiety, but to learn to manage and reduce it.

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To do this, a hierarchy of exposure will first be developed, in which a series of situations or activities are established between patient and therapist that appear phobic stimuli and that generate more or less anxiety in the patient, and then order them. Subsequently, the subject will be exposed to each of them, moving on to the next only when in at least two consecutive trials the anxiety levels are practically non-existent.

For example, in the case of music, the subject can be exposed to small soft tunes, with the ears half covered, and little by little increase the volume and duration of the musical piece, or go to places such as shopping centers, listen entire songs or even end up going to a concert.

In addition, cognitive restructuring can be useful to modify beliefs that may be at the basis of panic when listening to music. In this sense, it may be necessary to debate and make the subject reflect on what music means to him and what he attributes fear to it. After this we can try to help the subject observe and develop possible alternative beliefs that could be much more adaptive.

Relaxation techniques are also essential, since they allow the tone and activation generated by exposure to be reduced. In fact, they can be used in the aforementioned hierarchy to perform systematic desensitization instead of exposure (in which anxiety is sought to be reduced by emitting a response incompatible with it).