Finding Psychology in the Songs of Springsteen

Dr. Lorraine Mangione is a self-described “unabashed fan” of the music of Bruce Springsteen. She has been to many concerts, talks about his music and lyrics with friends and colleagues, and values his artistic output on several levels. Several times in her professional life (she is a professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology) she has been able to look at his work through a psychological lens, bringing her expertise to bear on an influential American storyteller.

Most recently, Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, the journal for Division 10 of the American Psychological Association, published an article that Dr. Mangione co-authored with independent scholar Susan Keady: “‘Spirit In The Night’ to ‘Mary’s Place': Loss, Death, and the Transformative Power of Relationships.” In this article, as well as in past academic work, Mangione’s point has been to explore some of the social and psychological ramifications of Springsteen’s songs, not to use the songs to try to understand the psychology of the artist. She enjoys working with Keady, a nurse whose work in Anchorage, Alaska, brings her in contact with the storytelling tradition of the local native population.

The collaboration brings about a fruitful synthesis of approaches, as evidenced in two papers they presented in 2005 at the first academic Springsteen symposium in New Jersey, “The Muse and the Darkness in the Visionary Creative Process,” and “Springsteen’s Stories: The Healing Power of Narrative.” They also gave a presentation a dozen years ago at an adult development conference at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Dr. Mangione looks forward to further work involving psychological takes on Springsteen’s songs, including an upcoming conference focused on group therapy.