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Metal health


Heavy Metal Therapy

“When I was a kid growing up, music was the escape. That’s the only thing that had no judgments. You know, you put on a record, and it’s not going to yell at you for dressing the way you do. It’s going to make you feel better about it.” – Marilyn Manson

Researchers have finally discovered what us headbangers have always known. Heavy metal is good for you.

Paula Rowe and Bernard Guerin of the University of South Australia sampled 28 dedicated metalheads aged 18-24 – 5 women and 23 men – conducting a series of interviews over four years, documenting their transition through school, tertiary education and into the workforce as well as the formation of their ‘metal identities’. They discovered that all participants felt marginalised at school (doesn’t everyone?) but found empowerment in the music, acceptance in their heavy metal (and sub-genre) communities and a sense of protection in their identities as headbangers. Many felt heavy metal had carried them through bullying, grief, trauma, oppression and social injustice, protecting their self-esteem and recontextualising their social rejection as creative non-conformism.

If I actually met any of my favorite bands, I’d just thank them cuz I had depression for a while [after mum died] and it was music that kept me going. – Luke

They considered metal a vital part of dealing with stress and resisting untoward social pressures as well as a means of compensating for social ineptitude and rejection. It even helped with their homework.

Yeah, it definitely found its way into my school work. For a poetry assignment, I compared poets like Frost with Symphony X lyrics, and in Year 12, I did my major religion assignment about the links between Satanism and metal. I even got to interview Nunslaughter by email–it was so cool. The Brothers [Catholic school] were a bit freaked out–good!  – Serge

Rowe and Guerin concluded that the music, culture and community of heavy metal provided participants with protective and functional behaviors to cope with stresses and life events which might otherwise have led to mental health problems, noting that nearly all of them had suffered bullying and ostracism at school with about half also enduring disruptive home lives. Yet their mental health remained sound. Their devotion to heavy metal was helping them survive the stress of challenging environments and build strong and sustained identities and communities in much the same way faith groups may have done for earlier, less secular generations.

So stop ruining your mind with social media. Put on some headphones, crank up the volume and take your medicine.



Postscript (24-Jun-2021): Readers will be pleased to know there is now an online support group offering assistance that builds upon the groundbreaking research of Rowe and Guerin. See Heavy Metal Therapy for details.

From → music

  1. And here’s some more, because “… don’t forget us. Our name is Motörhead. We play rock ‘n’ roll.”

    Ahh. That’s the way I like it, baby. I don’t wanna live forever.


  2. And here’s a Body Count rework of a Suicidal Tendencies song, as prescribed by commentor Carson Dyle at Mad in America.

    Why settle for a dose when you can overdose?


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