When the Composer Has PTSD: Examining the Life of George Lloyd (1919-1998)


  • Jonathan Davidson Duke University





Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) impairs cognitive function, attention, memory, mood, initiative, human relationships and self-esteem. Music therapy can ameliorate some of these problems. Although there is literature on music and PTSD, there is scant information on the musician-composer with PTSD, the process of recovery, and the connections between composition, PTSD and neurocognitive function. Presented here is an account of George Lloyd, a highly regarded young English composer in the 1930s. Following severe trauma in World War 2, Lloyd’s ability to compose suffered greatly for many years. He took a professional detour into market gardening to recover his health and then subsequently rehabilitated his musical career. Lessons learned from Lloyd’s life are described both in relation to approaches he used to achieve recovery from PTSD and a more general question of composition’s potential therapeutic effects in light of recent cognitive neuroscience.

Author Biography

Jonathan Davidson, Duke University

Emeritus Professor




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