The Use of Music as a Treatment for GemüThskrankheit in Nineteenth-Century Viennese Psychiatry

Authored by: Andrea Korenjak

The Routledge Companion to Music, Mind and Well-Being

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138057760
eBook ISBN: 9781315164717
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter provides an overview of the early use of music in Viennese psychiatry, with a particular focus on Bruno Goergen’s (1777–1842) sanatorium for the mentally ill. In the first half of the nineteenth century, music as a therapeutic aid was mainly considered a means for distraction, engagement and amusement, especially for patients suffering from a disorder known as Gemüthskrankheit, or “illness of theGemüth”. It is in this context that the specifically German notion of Gemüthand its significance in the nineteenth century will be explored. Contemporary insights that were drawn from clinical practice and reflected in the first Viennese medical dissertations on music will also be examined.

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