Growing up in Vienna, Austria, I went to school close to Berggasse, where Prof Freud lived and worked. Reminiscing, I spent many “formative” hours in the nearby Café Freud during my adolescence. After school, I lived in various foreign countries - studying, researching and travelling. Right after medical school, I started my residency in psychiatry in Vienna. Interrupting the program for a Neuroscience Master at King’s College London, I became a consultant psychiatrist at the University Medical Centre in Hamburg, Germany, in 2020. Today, I lead a team of residents, psychologists, and nurses treating patients with anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and depression.
To reduce the stigmatisation of people with mental illnesses, I created a blog with colleagues addressing pressing issues on mental health. In addition, since the pandemic’s start, I have provided basic psychiatric help to refugees at a local organisation’s psychosocial counselling department. Finally, I spent my weekends on the rugby field, passionately coaching young children to become athletes and accompanying their mental and physical journey.
I have been working in the mental health field for over ten years. My interests include the broad field of psychiatry, from history to neurobiology and the experiences and life stories of patients, family members, and professionals. However, during my PhD research at Brunel University, I studied the effects of electronically modified sound on patients with depressive symptoms. My research focuses on a sound stimulation training programme called Music for the Mind 2 (MFM2). This commercially available program combines advanced psychoacoustic techniques with the improvisational art of Ostad Elahi (1895–1974) to encourage active listening (a central component of mindfulness practice) by targeting early auditory information processing pathways. Ostad Elahi was an influential thinker, jurist, and musician. All his recorded pieces are improvisations that infuse the music with a free quality. The combination of repetition, inspirational creativity, and freedom in playing allows for unusual harmonic and rhythmic structures, causing the listener to be highly attentive. In addition, Elahi’s fingering and striking technique convey the auditory impression of simultaneous dissonance and consonance, creating polyphonic effects. Thus, Elahi’s art continuously incites the listener to discover new “twists and turns” that prevent habituation, keep the brain alert, and encourage active listening. Using a combination of study designs, I examine whether listening regularly and purposefully to MFM2 will enhance tonal and language processing, develop mindfulness, and ease communication competencies and learning capacities in people with depressive symptoms. Ultimately, these improvements are believed to positively influence social interactions and reduce depressive symptoms. With these studies, I intend to introduce an innovative, safe, and effective add-on therapy that can enhance the lives of people with depression.