You know how it goes – you’re having a shitty day and you put on some metal to even things out. Or you’re having a great day and that absolutely calls for some old-school Obituary. Whatever the case might be, it’s probably time for some heavy metal… but why? What makes metal so therapeutic despite its aggressive nature?
According to clinical psychologist Dr. Nicole Andreoli, Ph.D., it’s all about lessening stress and being able to focus on the tasks at hand.
“I want to explain [why] this makes total sense,” Dr. Andreoli said. “Listening to any type of music can be therapeutic and can allow for an emotional release. Heavy metal is no exception.
“Heavy metal has been found to lessen negative emotions by reducing cortisol levels, which helps to lessen stress. Research has found that people who listen to heavy metal tend to think more logically and in more complex terms than those who don’t listen to heavy metal. Heavy metal has been found to help the most with focus.
“Now, lyrics in heavy metal do tend to focus on rage. But there is no research linking listening to heavy metal with a desensitization to violence … Listening to heavy metal has been found to be a positive way to process anger safely.”
This is all pretty in line with a 2019 study by Nick Perham, Cardiff Metropolitan University lecturer, which showed that metal fans are generally happier folks that can handle their anger in a positive way.
“Despite the often violent lyrical content in some heavy metal songs, recently published research has shown that fans do not become sensitised 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.
“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 offence – 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.”
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