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Musical hallucinations: perpetual music



Type of spiritual experience

Hallucination (6)

A description of the experience

Rev Neurol. 2014 Mar 1;58(5):207-12.

[Musical hallucinations: perpetual music].

[Article in Spanish]

Zabalza-Estévez RJ1.

  • 1Hospital Donostia, 20014 San Sebastian, Espana.


in English, Spanish


Musical hallucinations are a kind of auditory hallucination that are prevalent among the non-psychiatric population, but which have rarely been reported in the neurological literature. They occur most frequently in the elderly, in females and when there is a loss of hearing, but their pathophysiology has still to be unravelled.


We report here six cases (five females and one male) of musical hallucinations diagnosed in a general neurology clinic over a time-span of five years. In five cases there was also concurrent hypoacusis, to a greater or lesser extent, and one had been triggered by pentoxifylline. In most instances, the musical content of the hallucinations had its origins in music experienced in childhood and early youth. In the cases submitted to pharmacological treatment, the response was poor. Yet, after explaining to the patients that the condition was benign and had no connection with a psychotic pathology, the degree of acceptance of the symptoms was good.


Musical hallucinations are a little-known pathology lying on the borderline between neurology, otorhinolaryngology and psychiatry which are often wrongly linked to mental disease. It is essential to explain to patients and relatives that these symptoms are not necessarily of a psychiatric nature, and to be aware of the potential capacity of some commonly used drugs to generate them.



The source of the experience


Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image


Observation contributed by: Rosie Rock-Evans