What’s the connection between metal music and mental health?

Although numerous authors have associated metal music with social problems such as suicide, self-destruction and Satanism, few studies have been undertaken to examine the mental health of fans of heavy metal music. This study attempts to determine if there is a link between mental health and the enjoyment of this type of music in France. The researchers surveyed 333 fans of metal music. Their mental health was evaluated by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), a widely used instrument that measures anxiety and depression. The scores of the sample of metal music fans were then compared to the scores that reveal  possible, probable, or severe mental disorders. Qualifying variables included age, gender, status, education, motivation and participation in metal music culture. The results indicated that fans of metal music are mainly young adults (median age = 22.67, SD = 5.29) and tend to be male (87.85 percent). As a whole, metal music fans have levels of anxiety and depression that are similar to and lower than levels in the general population. Specifically, <5 percent of metal music fans surveyed showed pathological symptoms. Subjects that scored higher levels of anxiety and depression were those that had literary and/or arts backgrounds rather than scientific backgrounds, that wrote metal music lyrics, that consumed alcohol and that engaged in the body modification practice of scarification. This study suggests that opponents of metal music should re-examine the basis for their criticism. More scholarly research is needed to better understand the effects of metal music on fans and on society.

Source: “Metal Music and Mental Health in France” from Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, Volume 33, Number 3, 473-488, DOI: 10.1007/s11013-009-9138-2

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