People With Borderline Personality Disorder Prefer These Head-Scratching Types of Music

Patients are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) to describe moods that swing from one extreme to another, and often have trouble maintaining stable relationships with other people. Basically, they can't keep a lid on their roiling emotions and are prone to impulsive actions — a challenging condition both for people suffering from it and for their loved ones.

You'd think they'd prefer listening to music that reflects their troubled inner life, but that's not the case, according to a team of Polish researchers, who uncovered the surprising musical preference of people with BPD.

In a new paper published in the journal Psychology of Music and spotted by PsyPost, the researchers discovered that people who tended to have severe BPD symptoms were more likely to prefer listening to jazz or classical music — genres that are often calming, elegantly composed, and complex.

And they typically turned their noses at loud, intense music like punk and heavy metal. Counterintuitive? Maybe, but maybe not. Instead of gravitating toward angry music, maybe people with BPD are selecting soundtracks that soothe them intentionally.

The researchers uncovered this surprising musical preference by looking at 549 people, of whom 274 had signs of BPD. Each study participant underwent a screening test that quantified any BPD symptoms, as well as a quiz about their musical preferences.

Most of the study participants were female at 75.6 percent — which tracks with research that females predominantly have BPD.

Obviously, the study has limitations. The researchers said the research was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and thus were self-reported.

Followup research that dives into how different musical genres effect the emotions of people with BPD could further explore the relationship — as well as the implications for music therapy for people who suffer from it.

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