Melophobia (music phobia): symptoms, causes and treatment

They say music is the language of the soul. It is not in vain that human beings have been able to communicate and express their emotions and anxieties since ancient times.

Most find this concept deeply enjoyable and enjoyable, using it to relax or vibrate with it, and even find it inconceivable to live without music. But although it is rare, some people experience a deep and very debilitating fear when they hear a piece of music. These are people with melophobia, A strange phobia that we are going to talk about.

    What is melophobia?

    The concept of melophobia refers to the existence of a phobia in music, that is, the irrational emergence of a very high level of panic, fear and anxiety upon exposure to any type of music or melody.

    It is important to note that melophobia it is not a simple displeasure or dissatisfaction with the musicBut is established as a pathological fear that the subject himself judges illogical or excessive for the possible risk that it could pose in reality. Approaching or even thinking about exposing yourself to what you feared, in this case music, generates a very high level of anxiety and suffering which generally results in an affectation at the physiological level.


    Among the physiological symptoms that usually appear as a result of this anxiety, we can find the presence of tachycardia, hyperventilation, cold sweating, restlessness or chest pain. In addition to this usually appears depersonalization or a feeling of unreality, as well as a fear of loss of bodily control or even the possibility of death, being possible for the subject to suffer from an anxiety attack.

    All this leads the subject to shop to avoid the dreaded so as not to feel this anxiety, which can have repercussions on the person’s daily life. In the case of the fear of music, these subjects avoiding situations such as concerts, nightclubs, parties or even celebrations as much as possible. It is also common that the radio or even the television is not turned on.

    But not only that, and it is that beyond the spaces in which it is intended to listen to music per se, we can also find music in almost any social event or in almost any place. From a supermarket to a workplace to public transport, these are places where a sort of melody rings out at some point.

    In addition, other alternative measures can be used to eliminate or reduce the level of sound reaching the ears, such as ear plugs.

      Possible causes

      Melophobia is a very rare disease, the causes of which are not fully understood and which can arise from or be influenced by very different factors. In some phobias, it is sometimes considered that there is a certain biological predisposition to suffer., As in fear of animals. However, in this sense, there does not seem to be any situation at the biological level that could facilitate the emergence of avoidant and phobic behaviors.

      Perhaps singing could be seen as a stimulus used since ancient times to generate expectations or to give some sort of warning, in some cases negative.

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

      In this case, it is possible that whether the painful and traumatic experience was associated with the music it is perceived as something negative and anguish and therefore ends up being avoided. For example, the fact that music is heard at the time of the death of a loved one, the diagnosis of an illness, or the suffering of some form of abuse or harm are situations in which sound has been conditioned as a aversive stimulus by binding to the painful situation in question.

      It is also necessary to assess the possibility that this phobia arises secondary to a medical disorder related to hearing, or as a reaction to excessive sound stimuli that have caused great discomfort. The clearest example is that of people with hyperacusis, who perceive relatively more intense and bothersome stimuli to be relatively below average. In this case, it would not be a primary phobia but rather secondary to the manifested health problem.


      While melophobia is a strange and unusual disorder, the truth is that can be worked on therapy in an attempt to put an end to the problem or to increase the feeling of control over the anxiety experienced.

      In this sense, one of the main strategies usually used will be to use exposure therapy. In this type of therapy, the subject is expected to reduce the anxiety experienced based on manage the situations that scare you and stay there without avoiding them until the anxiety is drastically reduced. The goal is not really to eliminate anxiety, but to learn how to manage and reduce it.

      To do this, an exposure hierarchy will first be established, in which a series of situations or activities is established between the patient and the therapist which show phobic stimuli and generate more or less anxiety in the patient. , then order them. Subsequently, the subject will be exposed to each of them, not advancing to the next until, in at least two consecutive trials, anxiety levels are virtually nonexistent.

      For example, in the case of music, the subject may be exposed to small, soft tunes, with half-covered ears, and gradually increase the volume and duration of the piece of music, or go to places like shopping malls. , hear whole songs or even finish going to a concert.

      In addition to this cognitive restructuring can be useful to change beliefs that may cause panic when listening to music. In this sense, it may be necessary to debate and make the subject reflect on what the music means to him by attributing fear to it. After that, we can try to help the subject observe and develop any alternative beliefs that could be much more adaptive.

      Relaxation techniques are also essential, as they reduce the tone and activation generated by exposure. In fact, they can be used in the above hierarchy to do systematic desensitization instead of exposure (in which one seeks to reduce anxiety by emitting a response incompatible with it).

      Bibliographical references:

      • Bourne, EJ (2005). The workbook on anxiety and phobia, 4th ed. New publications from Harbinger.

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