The Psychopathology of the Sense of Music

  • Reinhard Steinberg
Conference paper


Like speech, music in its proper sense owns only to men. Like speech comprehension or production, music perception and performance also requires cognitive, affective and motoric competence. In speech as a result of thinking and in musical performance as a result of affective comprehension and motoricity, a weakening is obvious when an individual becomes mentally ill. For understanding the pathophysiologic processes underlying schizophrenia, depression, or mania, all kinds of verbal and nonverbal communications are listed in detail and ordered in international psychopathologic systematizations. Surprisingly music has been left out completely, although its fundamental importance for human psychic equilibrium is generally accepted. Music is even a very apt model for studying cognitive functions, as research in the field of amusia shows. Its lack of semantic meaning, and its physically well-definable and meaningful rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic constituents may even have some advantages over speech in some aspects of cognition research.


Musical Performance Music Perception Polarity Profile Endogenous Depression Motoric Competence 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1995

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  • Reinhard Steinberg

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