Psychiatry & Psychology--General/song causing strong emotions


Not sure if you can help me with this, but I figured it falls in the realm of psychology.
I'm from Germany and I came to the US 8 years ago. Some time a few years ago I heard a song play on an ice cream truck (Music Box Dancer - I looked it up), and it caused strong emotions and I had to fight hard not to cry. It was very overwhelming. Somehow I felt some familiarity with the song, but could not come up with a name, or put a finger on it as far as how or where I know it from. We recently bought our kids a toy piano that has some pre-programmed songs. One of which is that same song. So I finally looked it up and found the name of it and listened to it on you-tube. Again it caused strong emotions and I started to cry. I do not know why this song is doing this to me. Could it be that it is triggering a suppressed memory, that I am yet unable to retrieve? It is really bothering me and I want to find out why this song is triggering such strong emotions in me.

Think about music. Long abiding history (e.g., many biblical references). Ubiquitous in our culture. (Imagine if it were like a food allergy and was harmful to you unless you avoided it -- how long would you live?) Similar pervasiveness or even existence in any other species? No. And the value for survival or anything else to our species? None.

So why are we humans so highly "musical"?  I'd say it's because music can trigger feelings, emotions, memories. So your experience, while likely impossible to trace to its origins, seems plausible and likely. Nothing to worry about, just part of being human.

If the reaction bothers you, probably listening to it enough will extinguish the response.

Thanks for asking us,

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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