Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Psychology of Heavy Metal Music

I really enjoyed coming across this article for many different reasons. One reason being I've read articles based on similar subject matter in the past, and I've found that most articles discussing heavy metal music and the effect it has on the brain and emotions are usually extremely bias and often accuse metal music/bands for the abusive behaviors in their listeners. However, this article doesn't hold metal music responsible - but it suggests in an almost mocking and witty way that maybe researching are conduction tests on the wrong types of people - people who simply don't enjoy metal music as their music of choice. Since I personally listen to mostly only metal music, I found it very interesting hearing the results of the various testing that was done to both the mice and plants. Ultimately, I believe there are so many aspects in each person's life that effects such things as their moods and behaviors, therefore i find it near impossible to simple accuse (any kind of) music to be held responsible for an individual's behavior.


After reading the article a few times, I was able to form my own non-bias opinions, separate from the fact that I myself listen to heavy metal music. With this, i found it very unfair that "heavy metal music" is seen and discussed as one genre. This being said, i don't think many non-listeners realize that there are many different sub-genres, or types of metal music such as grindcore, thrash, doom metal, metalcore, death metal, thrash, etc. On the same note, we must look at the different types of metal bands there are out there. For example, there are "Christian metalcore" bands such as MyChildren MyBride and As I Lay Dying. The lyrics of Christian metal bands are inspirational and all about moving forward and thinking positively. On the other hand, there are bands such as Awaiting the Autopsy and Elysia - considered death metal, with lyrics based on murder, evil, death, suicide, etc. I believe if one were to try and make true assumptions as to the effects metal music has on one's brain, it is important to consider the actual type of metal an individual is listening to just as much as you have to consider the individuals personal background. However, even with knowing that, I still don't think it's fair to make judgment calls on a person simply from the sub-genre, being I myself listen to almost all types of metal music for various reasons - sometimes for the lyrics and sometimes just for the instrumental appreciation - so it's unfair to judge without knowing what is it the individual is truly getting out of listening.


Overall, after reading many articles on the subject, I still do not believe heavy metal music leads to or causes negative effects on a person such as aggression, suicide or lack of intelligence. One main reason I strongly disagree on the link between the two is because I for one am not a suicidal, depressed person nor am I anything less than an honor student. Like many of the commenters to this article, i firmly agree that heavy metal music enables me to release any stress or anger I may have at that moment. Besides growing up around it therefore being partial to the genre, listening to metal music helps me clear my mind and actually enables me to become a more creative person. Everyone is different and everyone has certain hobbies and interests that brings them joy or productivity. With this, I will also say that mostly no one would subject themselves to listen to a type of music that causes them pain or agony. I don't see how any one person would engage in something that is causing them to act out negatively and become a depressed or angry individual. So, as Jennifer Copley states, I also believe it may just all come down to a person's preferred musical genre. In response to David Merrill's experiment, I believe that if mice were subjected to listen to anything 24-hours a day (especially to such an emotionally loud, intense genre of music) may cause themselves to act out in a negative way simply because of the constant loudness they are not partial to. But just as the mice, the plant may also not "prefer metal music" just as certain individuals do not. I also believe it often takes a more emotionally-intuned person to enjoy and relate to such an intense genre of music, and this does not have to be a negative thing. Same way people throw accusations at hip-hop music may effect someone - there are those who listen to both hip-hop and metal that are individuals that engage in negative behaviors as well as those who live positive lifestyles. With this, how can it possibly be fair to throw out negative generalized accusations, and make assumptions to the effects any type of music may have on a human being's brain if every individual's brain (and musical preference) varies just as much as their personalities and personal interests do ?



Article:

http://cognitive-psychology.suite101.com/article.cfm/psychology_of_heavy_metal_music

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with the idea, that metal music is not harmful in itself but that it may do harm to individuals who are by personality no typical metal people. Hearing male singers like Tom Araya or Lemmy Kilmister screaming and expressing aggression verbally is something completely different to a personality that enjoys it instead of a personality that experiences its implicit messages as "order" to transgress other peoples borders.

Metal music to me has since I was 12 years old always been a positive stimulation, less a release of anger and more a kick to enjoy and experience life in my own way. I achieved a doctoral degree in psychology at a German University and to me it feels more that metal music has been a way to access my self rather than to block it.

FiddleEnigma said...

Absolutely brilliant! I completely agree with everything you've said here. It's just so sad that a lot of people will make assumptions about things (in our case, metal) without really knowing what they're talking about, or the context they're dealing with. It is my opinion that metal is something that a person should be immersed in for a bit before creating any opinions.

Even though I am relatively new to metal compared to others, I realized right off the bat that metal is seriously misunderstood and wrongly criticized. I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but logical, educated, and experience-driven opinions hold much more value than blatant hate views.

Again, wonderful work!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I've been a metal fan for over 20 years and I've always found it to be positive. Its been my motivation and what has helped me get through bad times and enjoy the good even more!

Anonymous said...

This article truly made my day. Although I'm only 14, I truly enjoy many different types of metal, as well as other genres. It disappoints me that metal (and hip-hop/rap) fans are singled out as violent and unintelligent. They seem to neglect the fact that there are still violent and unintelligent pop fans out there too. Thank you for posting this article, it's good to see some metal appreciation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! My families trying to force me to stop listening to it because I have depression and they think metal music is why i have it. They aren't willing to understand its like a release for me. And I've been this way alot longer then i've been listening to metal music so it can't be to blame!