Leonard Cohen Fan Diagnosis: Cohenphilic Personality Syndrome

The Development Of Leonard Cohen Fan Syndrome Nosology

Employing the experience of my 30+ years of psychiatric practice  and working through the auspices of Doctors Without Boundaries, I have observed, recorded, and cataloged the characteristic symptomatology of Leonard Cohen fans to establish clinical criteria for diagnosis of the affected population.1

The description of the relevant Axis II personality syndrome follows:

301.LC Cohenphilic Personality Syndrome

A pervasive and intense admiration of, fascination with, and, in females, lust for Leonard Cohen such that all other life issues are adjudged by and interpreted within the context of his performances and his creative output, including music, poetry, prose, and drawings, as indicated by four or more of the following:

  • Has a Cohen Concert-Distance Index score (total miles, calibrated in US miles, traveled to attend Leonard Cohen concerts in a 365 consecutive day span) equal to or greater than 500 OR a Cohen Concert-Cost Index score (total expenditures, calibrated in inflation-adjusted US dollars, attributable solely to to attending Leonard Cohen concerts, including concert tickets, travel, lodging, etc.) equal to or greater than 5000.
  • Is preoccupied with Cohencentric questions (e.g., What would Leonard Cohen do in a given situation? What brand fedora does Leonard Cohen wear? What is Leonard Cohen’s favorite wine?).
  • Visits Cohencentric.com and/or LeonardCohenForum 20 or more times weekly over a period of three consecutive months Or has posted 500 or more items on LeonardCohenForum.
  • Demonstrates incapacity to comprehend or even believe that others do not share his or her enjoyment of Cohen’s music.
  • Routinely overcomes officious ushers, uncomfortable venues, torrential rains, and TicketMaster to attend Leonard Cohen concerts.
  • Purchases and hoards not only CDs, LPs, and downloads of Leonard Cohen’s music but also books and drawings by Cohen and paraphernalia associated with Leonard Cohen (e.g., photos of Cohen, autographs, concert merchandise such as T-shirts, coffee mugs, signet rings… ).
  • Exhibits extensive familiarity with nonessential details of Leonard Cohen’s life and work: can name the woman who was the inspiration for “Chelsea Hotel #2,” Cohen’s children, his sister, the Spanish poet who influenced Cohen, and the person to whom the I’m Your Man album was dedicated.

Presumptive Symptomatology

A presumptive diagnosis of Cohenphilic Personality is made if a subject displays one or more permanent tattoos featuring a quote by Leonard Cohen, an image of Leonard Cohen, or a symbol associated with Cohen (e.g., Unified Heart, Hummingbird).

Moderately more prevalent in females although this may be an artifact of gender-specific symptomatology (e.g., women tend to proclaim their love for Cohen while men typically sublimate their admiration into useful societal functions, such as flying overseas to shoot concert videos, raising money for commemorative plaques at ancient New York hotels, or blogging). Onset may be at any point following puberty. Many of those afflicted are able to maintain apparently normal lives, limiting overt displays of symptoms to private moments and concerts.

To qualify for a subtype diagnosis, a subject must present with one of the following secondary syndromes in addition to meeting criteria for Cohenphilic Personality Syndrome:

  • Cohenphilic Personality Syndrome with Pseudo-Tourette Features: Shouts exclamations during Leonard Cohen concerts. Originally thought to be meaningless, random utterances, these phrases, on analysis, prove to be responses triggered by Cohen’s lyrics (e.g., from women: “And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on” – “Oh yes you are!” and “I’m your man” – “Damn straight”) or observations directed at Leonard Cohen (e.g., from women: “I love you, Leonard.” from men: “You da man”). Not to be confused with Cohen Sing-along Trait, the more benign compulsion to sing songs simultaneously being performed by Leonard Cohen (especially prevalent among Irish audiences who come into contact with a performance of “So Long Marianne”).
  • Cohenphilic Personality Syndrome, Noonanistic Subtype: Is habituated to viewing videos of Leonard Cohen performances taken by Albert Noonan.
  • Cohenphilic Personality Syndrome with Stage Prop Fetish: Causes or conspires to cause items associated with specific Cohen lyrics to be hurled, flung, launched, laid, or otherwise placed on stage while Leonard Cohen is singing the referenced song (e.g., throwing polka-dot blouses on stage during performance of “Closing Time” triggered by the lines, “Yeah the women tear their blouses off/and the men they dance on the polka-dots”).
  • Cohenphilic Personality Syndrome with Spectorphobic Exclusionary Complex: Maintains delusional belief, in the face of evidence obvious even to other Cohen fans, that the Death Of A Ladies’ Man album is irrevocably contaminated by Phil Spector’s participation in its creation.

Enlightened soulfulness

There ain’t no cure for love. Cohenphilic Personality Syndrome is chronic and life-long. Palliative care consists of perpetual playing of Cohen’s music and attendance at his concerts.

Note: I am republishing selected posts from my former Leonard Cohen site, Cohencentric, here on AllanShowalter.com (these posts can be found at Leonard Cohen). This entry was originally Nov 18, 2009 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, the predecessor of Cohencentric. It has been modestly edited (primarily to eliminate some distracting anachronisms) for this republication.



  1. This effort is important not only because diagnostic classification is the basis for determining treatment but because, on a humanitarian note, the official establishment of this diagnosis will, one hopes, be the first step in obtaining health insurance coverage for the costs of concerts, music recordings, and special events required to maintain these patients and allow them to live full, functional lives. []

2 thoughts on “Leonard Cohen Fan Diagnosis: Cohenphilic Personality Syndrome

  1. To bad for Cat Stevens…..he will never be Leonard Cohen! He did not need to prove anything….. he had it all.❤️🇨🇦🌹
    I write often on Leonard Cohen group. I am from Montreal and have been interested in Leonard since his death. I have been to pay my respects at the cemetery , been to both his houses in Montreal . And being 10 younger I knew all his hang outs here downtown . I am reading all I can get my hands on that talk about his life, his music. I am French Canadian so please excuse mistakes in my writing ….thank you!

  2. Deeply affected….. present more or less all the clinical criteria….. 🤒🤕😋😛😍
    So happy to be in… 🤩
    And so sad HE’s gone 😔

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