2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference


Syd Barrett and Mental Illness: Perspectives from Music and Psychology
Lee A. Flagg
Dr. Bob Mielke, Faculty Mentor

Syd Barrett, the chief songwriter, vocalist, and lead guitarist of Pink Floyd, was kicked out of the band in 1968 due to his mental illness. Barrett’s mental state has been the center of some discussion and controversy for the past few decades; Asperger’s disorder, photoepilepsy, and schizophrenia are the most commonly cited explanations for his mental troubles. In my paper I argue that Barrett suffered from schizophrenia catalyzed by heavy drug abuse and the pressures of the commercial music industry. Barrett’s schizophrenia appeared in the form of disorganized speech and behavior, as well as avolition. There was also an interaction between his mental illness and his music: the music fueled his schizophrenia and his mental instability materialized in the music he made. Despite Barrett’s relatively short career, he had a significant influence on Pink Floyd and numerous other musicians throughout rock history.

Keywords: Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd, schizophrenia, mental illness, music, psychology


Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 22-3
Location: VH 1408
Time: 10:15 am

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