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An empirical study of normative dissociation in musical and non-musical everyday life experiences

Herbert, Ruth (2013) An empirical study of normative dissociation in musical and non-musical everyday life experiences. Psychology of Music, 41 (3). pp. 372-394. ISSN 0305-7356. (doi:10.1177/0305735611430080) (KAR id:53395)


Dissociative experiences involving music have received little research attention outside the field of

ethnomusicology. This paper examines the psychological characteristics of normative dissociation

(detachment) across musical and non-musical experiences in ‘real world’, everyday settings. It draws

upon a subset of data arising from an empirical project designed to compare transformative shifts of

consciousness, with and without music in daily life, and the ways in which use of music may facilitate

the processes of dissociation and absorption. Twenty participants kept unstructured diaries for two weeks,

recording free descriptions of involving experiences of any kind as soon as possible after their occurrence.

All descriptions were subsequently subjected to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).

Results suggest that dissociative experiences are a familiar occurrence in everyday life. Diary

entries highlight an established practice of actively sought detachment from self, surroundings or

activity, suggesting that, together with absorption, the processes of derealization (altered perception

of surroundings) and depersonalization (detachment from self) constitute common means of selfregulation

in daily life. Music emerges as a particularly versatile facilitator of dissociative experience

because of its semantic ambiguity, portability, and the variety of ways in which it may mediate

perception, so facilitating an altered relationship to self and environment

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0305735611430080
Uncontrolled keywords: absorption, depersonalization, derealization, everyday life, music, normative dissociation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
M Music and Books on Music
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Ruth Herbert
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2015 14:51 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:22 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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