Medical Mysteries of Music

Published on February 24th, 2018 | by Alan Cross


New scientific study says that metal music is good for you

How often have we heard that metalheads are degenerate weirdos who spend too much time in their bedrooms, the only illumination coming from blacklight posters? They’re angry/depressed/dangerous, a threat to themselves and to the world at large.

Parents view metal with suspicion. Groups like the PRMC have come down on metal. Conservative types love to freak out over the music. And don’t even get me started on what religious types have to say on the subject.

That stereotype is, of course, total BS. Metal is probably the most universal of all the rock genres, reaching into every corner of the planet. A billion(-ish) metal fans can’t be wrong, right?

The next time you run into an anti-metal person, throw this scientific study in their face.

According to a new study by Australian psychologists Paula Rowe and Bernard Guerin, metal is good for mental health. The research, published under the title “Contextualising the mental health of metal youth: A community for social protection, identity, and musical empowerment,” says the following:

Metal identities are popularly represented as leading to mental health issues but with flawed evidence. We documented the community contexts around metal and well-being by talking to young metalheads directly. We engaged in repeated, informal talks with 28 young Australians who strongly identified with metal (aged 18–24 years, 5 females and 23 males), and found that the metal identities and community protected them from mental health problems.

In other words, knowing that you’re part of a group of like-minded music fans gives you a sense of belonging and purpose, helping you dodge issues of alienation, isolation and loneliness.

And there’s more:

Four core themes were found from transcripts: they were all bullied or marginalized through social relationships at school; they enjoyed the impact of metal music and lyrics when angry or ostracized; they felt part of a protective community of metalheads, even though in many cases at this age it was more imagined than real; and embodying metal identities enabled them to keep bullies, detractors, and others at bay, and to find friend groups.

By talking repeatedly, directly with young metalheads, it was found that metal identities were helping participants to survive the stress of challenging environments and build strong and sustained identities and communities, thus alleviating any potential mental health issues.

Take that, anti-metal people. Read the whole study here. (Thanks tp Tom for the link.)

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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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