Alternative Title

How experiences of flow of live music performance facilitate dedifferentiation and impact the subject well-being of young adults

Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type

Mixed methods


School for Social Work


Young adults-Mental health, Differentiation (Developmental psychology), Well-being, Music-Performance-Psychological aspects, Attention, Flow, Dedifferentiation, Young adults, Subjective well-being, Musical performance, Transgressive eroticism


This mixed methods study sought to explore how experiencing a state of flow, or optimal enjoyment, while performing live music impacted the subjective well-being of young adults. Live music performance serves as a space of transgressive eroticism, which is necessary to facilitate dedifferentiation, an intrapsychic state developmental and relational state of merger where new ego growth occurs.

67 young adults (18-35 years of age) who had performed live music in the past year completed an anonymous online survey consisting of an empirical assessment of the convergence of flow and well-being utilizing the Flow State Scale (Jackson & Marsh, 1996), Scale of Positive and Negative Affect (SPANE) (Diener et al., 2010), Flourishing Scale (Diener et al., 2010), and Clinically Useful Depression Outcome Scale (CUDOS) (Zimmerman et al., 2008). Participants were also asked a series of qualitative questions about the quality of their flow experiences and impact on their subjective well-being.

This study found evidence that the process of dedifferentiation occurs during flow state experiences, making experiences of flow (and, by proxy, dedifferentiation) spaces of psychic growth leading to intrapychic development and improved functioning. Future research into the utilization of flow experiences as a transcendent function facilitating dedifferentiation has implications for the treatment of survivors of trauma as well as those young adults experiencing clinically significant levels of depression and anxiety.




iv, 135 pages : color illustration. M.S.W., Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma., 2016. Includes bibliographical references (pages 93-100)

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