Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but it has numerous mental health benefits for fans

Summary: Heavy metal music may have a bad reputation, but a new study reveals the music has positive mental health benefits for its fans.

Source: The Conversation

Due to its extreme sound and aggressive lyrics, heavy metal music is often associated with controversy. Among the genre’s most contentious moments, there have been instances of blasphemous merchandise, accusations of promoting suicide and blame for mass school shootings. Why, then, if it’s so “bad”, do so many people enjoy it? And does this music genre really have a negative effect on them?

There are many reasons why people align themselves with genres of music. It may be to feel a sense of belonging, because they enjoy the sound, identify with the lyrical themes, or want to look and act a certain way. For me, as a quiet, introverted teenager, my love of heavy metal was probably a way to feel a little bit different to most people in my school who liked popular music and gain some internal confidence. Plus, I loved the sound of it.

I first began to listen to heavy metal when I was 14 or 15 years old when my uncle recorded a ZZ Top album for me and I heard singles by AC/DC and Bon Jovi. After that, I voraciously read music magazines Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Metal Forces, and RAW, and checked out as many back catalogs of artists as I could. I also grew my hair (yes, I had a mullet … twice), wore a denim jacket with patches (thanks mum), and attended numerous concerts by established artists like Metallica and The Wildhearts, as well as local Bristol bands like Frozen Food.

Over the years, there has been much research into the effects of heavy metal. I have used it as one of the conditions in my own studies exploring the impact of sound on performance. More specifically, I have used thrash metal (a fast and aggressive sub-genre of heavy metal) to compare music our participants liked and disliked (with metal being the music the did not enjoy). This research showed that listening to music you dislike, compared to music that you like, can impair spatial rotation (the ability to mentally rotate objects in your mind), and both liked and disliked music are equally damaging to short-term memory performance.

Other researchers have studied more specifically why people listen to heavy metal, and whether it influences subsequent behavior. For people who are not fans of heavy metal, listening to the music seems to have a negative impact on well-being. In one study, non-fans who listened to classical music, heavy metal, self-selected music, or sat in silence following a stressor, experienced greater anxiety after listening to heavy metal. Listening to the other music or sitting in silence, meanwhile, showed a decrease in anxiety. Interestingly heart rate and respiration decreased over time for all conditions.

Metalheads and headbangers

Looking further into the differences between heavy metal fans and non-fans, research has shown that fans tend to be more open to new experiences, which manifests itself in preferring music that is intense, complex, and unconventional, alongside a negative attitude towards institutional authority. Some do have lower levels of self-esteem, however, and a need for uniqueness.

One might conclude that this and other negative behaviors are the results of listening to heavy metal, but the same research suggests that it may be that listening to music is cathartic. Late adolescent/early adult fans also tend to have higher levels of depression and anxiety but it is not known whether the music attracts people with these characteristics or causes them.

Heavy metal has positive effects on fans of all ages. The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

Despite the often violent lyrical content in some heavy metal songs, recently published research has shown that fans do not become sensitized to violence, which casts doubt on the previously assumed negative effects of long-term exposure to such music. Indeed, studies have shown long-terms fans were happier in their youth and better adjusted in middle age compared to their non-fan counterparts. Another finding that fans who were made angry and then listened to heavy metal music did not increase their anger but increased their positive emotions suggests that listening to extreme music represents a healthy and functional way of processing anger.

Other investigations have made rather unusual findings on the effects of heavy metal. For example, you might not want to put someone in charge of adding hot sauce to your food after listening to the music, as a study showed that participants added more to a person’s cup of water after listening to heavy metal than when listening to nothing at all.

Finally, heavy metal can promote scientific thinking but alas not just by listening to it. Educators can promote scientific thinking by posing claims such as listening to certain genres of music is associated with violent thinking. By examining the aforementioned accusations of violence and offense – which involved world-famous artists like Cradle of Filth, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson – students can engage in scientific thinking, exploring logical fallacies, research design issues, and thinking biases.

So, you beautiful people, whether you’re heading out to the highway to hell or the stairway to heaven, walk this way. Metal can make you feel like nothing else matters. It’s so easy to blow your speakers and shout it out loud. Dig!

About this neuroscience research article

Source:
The Conversation
Media Contacts:
Nick Perham – The Conversation
Image Source:
The image is adapted from The Conversation news release.

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This content was originally published here.

My Orthodontist Thinks I Need Invisalign

I don’t try to make bad choices. Really, I don’t. In fact, I don’t think most people set out to do make them either. I think we all end up in a place we hoped not to be and in retrospect say, well, that was probably a bad idea.

Such was my life this past week when I found myself sitting in an orthodontist’s office being handed an estimate for approximately $8,000 (for Invisalign, I don’t want more braces, of which $3,500 would be covered by my insurance), that would essentially correct (or finish) the job I assumed was completed when I paid $4,000 to get my teefus fixed back in 2012. As sad as it is that if I have to pay all over again, how we got to this point is so much dumber than you can possibly imagine.

It all started in 2007 when I told my then-dentist I wanted braces. In order to do so, I was going to have to get my wisdom teeth removed, so I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed at the same time. Can we talk about that for a minute? Yes, let’s. If you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed, you know they can do general (put you out) or local (numb your mouth) anesthesia. Because all of my wisdom teeth were erupted, they opted for local anesthesia. This is where I learned about how my body responds to numbing agents and pain killers. Basically, it doesn’t. My mouth was numb for a solid 10 minutes before I started to feel the orthodontist literally breaking my teeth in half with some pliers.

Nigga. I cried so hard. It hurt so much, but I made it through thinking that I’d get some pain killers and be high off my gourd for the next week. First, they prescribed me Vicodin. It didn’t work. Then Percocet. Which also didn’t work. Literally, my body didn’t respond to pain killers AT ALL. I pretty much had to wait out the pain in the fetal position on my couch at home for a week and some change. After that experience, I put braces out of my mind, because short of checkups, I didn’t want anything unnecessary done to my teeth.

But then (and we’re about to get to the shenanigans now), while riding around in my car in 2011, I heard a commercial for braces and I said to myself, “P, you should get braces.” There was some number to call, so I called it. And it led me to a dentist’s office in Maryland. Well, I live in Washington, D.C., so that made sense. I scheduled an appointment and showed up for my consultation. And no lie when I tell you I was so dumbfounded at this office: the dentist was a black man but his entire office looked like a Pitbull video shoot. I was in an office full of some of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen. And they all worked there. As far as medical office spaces go, it might as well have been heaven.

I even remember calling a few of the homies to be like, “If you need a dentist, THIS IS WHERE YOU NEED TO BE!” I got my consultation and was told the braces would run me $4,000, and I’d walk away with pristine pearly whites. And all of the work would be handled in-house. And I should just come to them for regular dental services. Cool. SIGN ME UP.

That’s where it started going downhill. For one, while I thought the office was unreal, it was easily the most inappropriate office I’d ever been in. The dental assistants were a little too friendly and familiar. I’m not saying it was a happy endings spot or anything, I’m just saying the folks who worked there were super comfortable in ways that I’m not sure are…appropriate. Well, I got my braces and paid the cost to be the boss. Once that was done, and because my insurance changed, that office was no longer an option. Which made me sad, but I also figured that one complaint might take that office off the map anyway, so perhaps it was just time to move on.

I had permanent retainers on the back of my teeth and recently, the retainers on the back of my top row snapped. Because I could feel my teeth almost immediately start to shift, I found an orthodontist and scheduled an appointment the same way I found any new doctors: I checked the list of folks who would accept my insurance and looked for the black folks.

I went in for an appointment, and in the nicest possible way (and without professionally shitting on her fellow unnamed dentist), the orthodontist was like, “Yeah, your teeth ain’t supposed to do what they’re doing, ever, but since I wasn’t there in the first place, I’m not sure if this is accidental or intentional.” You can imagine how hard I clutched my pearls since I JUST got my braces off in 2012. I asked if she was saying the other dentist fucked up my teeth but made it look like the job was done and she would neither confirm nor deny this. I told her that’s what I get for staying at an office because everybody looks like J.Lo.

In order to address and correct the issue, the estimate came back a cool $8,000 strong. I’d feel dumb not getting them fixed since that was a decision I made in the first place and my teeth would just start crip walking again. Mildly, but a crip walk is a crip walk. But I can’t help but thinking I got got by a dentist’s office that didn’t feel right and stuck me for $4,000 out of pocket. And my teeth aren’t terrible, but the new ortho noticed some things that she had various curiosities about.

And it all takes me back to the fact that I seriously picked an office for braces based on a radio ad.

The moral of the story: Don’t pick dentist offices based on radio ads.

This content was originally published here.