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Music and Dissociation: Experiences without valence? 'Observing' self and 'absent' self

Herbert, Ruth (2013) Music and Dissociation: Experiences without valence? 'Observing' self and 'absent' self. In: 3rd International Conference on Music & Emotion : Jyväskylä, June 11-15, 2013, programme, abstracts, proceedings. 3rd International Conference on Music & Emotion (ICME3). . pp. 238-243. Department of Music, University of Jyväskylä, Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research, Finland ISBN 978-951-39-5250-1. (KAR id:73702)


Empirical studies of music listening in everyday life frequently frame individuals' experience of music primarily in terms of emotion and mood. Yet emotions - at least as represented by categorical and dimensional models of emotion - do not account for the totality of subjective experience. This is particularly apparent in the case of a range of so-called 'alternate' or 'altered' states of consciousness including 'flow', aesthetic and spiritual expe-riences. Some researchers have responded by highlighting the process of absorption (effortless attention) within significant experiences of music. To date however, the role of dissociation (detachment), the counter-part of absorption, has received little research attention outside ethnomusicological accounts of ritualistic trance. This paper explores the importance of dissociation to everyday musical experiences, drawing on find-ings from the author's past and ongoing empirical studies of psychological processes of everyday involvement with music in 'real-world' UK contexts. Free phenomenological reports from unstructured diaries compiled by participants aged 9-85 indicate dissociation from self, surroundings or activity in conjunction with music is a common occurrence in everyday life, particularly for teenagers. Significantly, a number of experiences appear to possess neither positive nor negative valence, instead functioning to offer a relief from aspects of self (emo-tion and thought). Dissociation and Absorption are accepted characteristics of trance in hypnotherapeutic literature. Results from the data discussed here suggest that moves away from a perceived baseline state of consciousness in conjunction with hearing music in daily life are a common phenomenon and that such experi-ences may facilitate freedom from emotion.

Keywords: dissociation, altered states, consciousness

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Proceeding)
Uncontrolled keywords: music, emotion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF41 Psychology and philosophy
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Ruth Herbert
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2019 14:49 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2021 10:22 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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