The use of music often has a crucial role in the everyday life of patients with mental disorders. For music is a cognitive-emotional entity which both portrays and influences psychological processes, psychiatric pathomechanisms might be additionally unraveled by this approach. This study shows first exploratory data on relations between emotion modulation strategies by means of the use of music in everyday life and personality dimensions.
Patients with high ego-strength used music less for relaxation, cognitive problem solving or for reduction of negative activity, similarly patients with high orderliness used it less for cognitive problem solving or for reduction of negative activity, but patients with high confidence used music more for fun stimulation.
Patients who reported that they listened to music which improved their symptoms of mental illness showed more ego-strength and orderliness than patients who listened to music that worsened their emotional condition.
Overall, results suggest that certain personality dimensions, in particular insecurity and insouciance (lack of structuring capabilities), are connected with the increased use of music to cope with negative affective states. However, it is also insecurity and insouciance which seem to avoid successful coping with psychological distress, ending up in a negatively self-reinforcing system, which might reflect a pathomechanism of the mental disorder.
Increasing knowledge about the influence of music on mental disorders might help in leading to a greater relief from mental distress by a more specific handling of music and should also be useful in music therapy.
Further studies on the clinical impact of music on the basis of this approach are warranted.