Research-RowanRat

The Power of Music

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the term conspiracy theories? If it is along the lines of “crazy,” “dramatic,” or “nonsense,” then you have a similar opinion compared to the vast majority. These theories have been around for as long as we can remember. Oftentimes with conspiracy theories, it involves the exaggerated ideas resulting from reading too far into something. While it may seem probable that the idea of specific lyrics containing themes of mental illness is embellished, that is not the case. 

Mental illness has gained a poor reputation in today’s society. This is as a result of the influx of people claiming that they have certain illnesses, especially depression and anxiety. This makes the idea of mental illness being apparent in song lyrics that much more unbelievable. However, being that music is a form of communication, there is a guaranteed reflection of the artist’s mental state in their creative writings.

Communication comes in many forms.Take a look at musicians for example. The songwriter uses nonverbal communication to create the lyrics of their song. By doing so, they’re letting out their emotions and putting it into a musical piece. A singer will use verbal communication by singing. While the audience is listening to a song that may have some deep content, they are listening to the musicians’ work of personal therapy. By creating their music, they were communicating their feelings which improved their mental health in some type of way. 

To begin with, we must understand the true meaning of conspiracy theories. According to wikipedia, it “refers to a hypothesized conspiracy with specific characteristics, such as an opposition to the mainstream consensus among those people who are qualified to evaluate its accuracy.” Rather than this information being understood as factual, it is instead represented as opinion based. In the International Review of Social Psychology, “A ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Conspiracy Theory? A Mixed Methods Investigation of Laypeople’s Rejection (And Acceptance) of a Controversial Label,” “The label ‘conspiracy theory’, while part of everyday media discourse, is considered by many as problematic.” There is a divide between those who do and don’t believe in conspiracy theories, and that divide plays a significant role when it comes to music artists and their believed mental situations.

There is a common link between creativity and mental illness. Many songs reflect the type of life an artist has. Further, one’s mental health is a significant part in one’s life. Therefore, it is more than likely that if an artist suffers from some type of mental illness, it will show in the songwriting of those artists. Meg Hutchinson describes her experience with mental illness and how it affects her music. Hutchinson suffers from bipolar disorder. She explains how in her song, “The Living Side” she expresses how she promises to stay on the living side. This proves that mental illness is commonly displayed in the lyrics of their music.

Music being understood as having healing abilities is not news and has been used as such since the times of Aristotle. However, the first official documented practice of using music for therapy was in 1789 through “Music Physically Considered,” an article in Columbian Magazine. Further, throughout the 1900s this practice gained popularity where there were multiple programs introduced. In 1903, the National Society of Musical Therapeutics was founded by Eva Augusta Vescelius. Next, in 1926, the National Association for Music in Hospitals was founded by Isa Maud Ilsen. Another, in 1941, the National Foundation of Music Therapy was founded by Harriet Ayer Seymour. Considering music therapy as an organized clinical profession truly began in the 1940s. Flash forward to today, there are around 5,000 certified music therapists in the United States.

There are many songs with dark lyrics that are a result of the artist having mental illness. Eminem suffers from depression and his song, “Stan”, writes “You coulda rescued me from drowning / now it’s too late, I’m on a thousand downers now, I’m drowsy / and all I wanted was a lousy letter or a call.” Another by Eminem, “Rock Bottom” writes “My life is full of empty promises and broken dreams / I’m hopin’ things look up; but there ain’t no job openings / I feel discouraged, hungry and malnourished” Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day suffers from panic disorder and his band’s song, “Basket Case,” writes “Sometimes I give myself the creeps / sometimes my mind plays tricks on me / it all keeps adding up I think I’m cracking up / am I just paranoid or am I just stoned?” Morrissey of The Smiths suffers from depression and his band’s song, “I know It’s Over” writes “Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head.” All of these songs demonstrate how mental illness affects and is apparent in the lyrics of those artists who are suffering.

Another example is an artist with the name of X. Ari. She is a singer-songwriter and suffers from anxiety, depression, PTSD, and insomnia. Some lyrics she has created include, “There was no dim light at the end of the tunnel and every part of my being thought this was the end. If I only knew that so many people have similar struggles, I would not have felt so alone. Perhaps I would been able to recover sooner had I not been so ashamed.” As you can see here, she is openly discussing her mental illness in this song. This is an example of lyrics that describe the current state of their lives. There isn’t much digging needed to find examples of some sort of mental illness here. However, this is a good example of how music is used as an outlet for mental illness and has a significant impact on the lyrics created. Also, this just shows that not only was she able to express her feelings, she is acting as a real life example of someone who has effectively used music as more than just a leisure activity.

What is mental health? According to mentalhealth.gov, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” Having good mental health will enable you to perform well in day-to-day life. I conducted an interview with a student at Rowan University who suffers from anxiety and depression. Because of her poor mental health, it affects her academic performance, sleep, and bodily health. Her anxiety causes her to procrastinate and because of this procrastination, her grades suffer. Further, my participant experiences issues regarding sleep. She states, “When I get anxious about grades, if I’m failing or something like that, my brain will just move a thousand miles per minute and it’s just bad…” Her mind is consumed with stress and anxiety about her classes which is keeping her up at night. Sleep is essential to mental and physical health. Due to her poor sleeping habits, she’s developed severe migraines. 

My patient has confessed that she doesn’t talk to anybody about her issues. She feels that she is a burden by talking to friends or family members so she deals with it on her own. This is a common reason why people choose not to get help. Using my patient as an example, she experiences a great amount of issues as a result of poor mental health and not communicating it. This interview was more of a therapeutic conversation for my patient. She spoke about a lot of her issues and what has been bothering her. Through this short 30 minute conversation we also put together a list of things she can do to help her deal with her anxiety and depression. She even stated at the end of the interview how it felt good to get it off her chest. This proves how communication is key, and by communicating, it can better one’s mental health. After this interview, she is going to reach out to one of our school’s psychologists and get the help that she needs.

Mental illness is a significant issue in today’s society. At Rowan University, 50% of all students felt severely depressed to the point that it had a negative impact on their ability to function. 15% of students at Rowan met the criteria for major depression. Moreover, 20% of all students have been diagnosed or treated with some form of mental illness. These students need to communicate and talk to somebody. Rowan University offers therapy and counseling, however, it is not well known. I myself suffer from anxiety and depression. I never used to talk to anybody and decided to keep it all inside until I exploded. I spoke with one of our school psychologists and from the first session, I felt instant relief. I also didn’t realize how bad it was until I said it aloud. Once I did, I not only felt the satisfaction of letting it all off my chest, but continuing to communicate with my psychologist enabled me to work on my issues. There is a direct cause and effect of communication on mental health, and it should be enforced for our wellbeing.

The power of talking is immense when it comes to catharsis. According to Value Options, “Talking leads to a catharsis, which means a feeling of relief. The charged feelings within us become less charged. Nothing has changed that caused the suffering in our lives, but talking has drained off some of the pain and this brings relief.” If somebody is experiencing mental illness, they are already experiencing a great deal of negative emotion. By keeping those feelings inside, those emotions continue to get stronger and create more stress. As stated by Mental Health Research, “Chronic stress increases the risk of developing depression and anxiety in some people.” This can easily be treated through the use of communication. 

Further, you can take that communication and share with others. An excellent source is therapy. By going to therapy, you can let out all of your feelings and what has been bothering you. A therapist is there to listen and help you. Without communicating, you are unable to properly process what is going on in your mind. This will cause you to develop mental illness that could be detrimental. Good Therapy states, “Therapy can help improve symptoms of many mental health conditions. In therapy, people also learn to cope with symptoms that may not respond to treatment right away.” By using communication and speaking to a therapist, you are putting yourself on the right track for self improvement. It is essential to understand that you are not alone and you should not be dealing with all of your issues on your own. By letting these feelings remain in your mind, they will eat away at your brain and body and pull you under. 

Humans not only desire, but require communication. Close your eyes and imagine the following scenario. You have built up anger and you feel it weighing on your chest. Seconds…minutes…hours…days pass by, and your emotions continue to pile up. Until one moment your body can no longer take it and you snap. You let go of all of your bottled up feelings. All of a sudden those emotions leave your body. Did you feel light? Did you sigh of relief? Communicating your feelings results in improved mental health. Because of this, you are able to process and deal with those feelings without being so overwhelmed.

There are many ways of noticing that someone is experiencing mental illness other than simply stating the fact. The term therapy is often understood as talking out your feelings to a professional therapist which leads to a possible diagnosis. This is not the case, however, where there are many outlets that one can express what they are going through. One example of this is music therapy. Through this kind of treatment, psychologists are able to find whether or not a patient is experiencing some type of mental illness through this artistic form of expression.

Emotional expression includes but is not limited to regular one on one conversation and that is something that must be understood. Today, more than ever, people are experiencing mental illness at alarming rates. For those who do need assistance, they should be aware of the many resources available that can help their given situation. Many are reluctant or apprehensive about classic verbal therapy which stops them from getting the help they need. Music therapy is surely a more appealing type of treatment and if more people knew that this is an option, it can save the lives of those suffering.  

With this type of therapy, one is able to analyze the type of music created to understand an artist’s self-concept and rehabilitative needs. Further, one is able to see those issues in the lyrics of their music. By examining an artist’s work, a professional is able to notice psychological and developmental processes where they may have not been able to notice in other ways. Because of this, there are great benefits for the artists combining analytic approaches of song analysis with an experiential, arts-based investigation.

As stated by the AMTA, “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” Not only is music therapy beneficial for the clinician to better understand their patient, it is also helpful for the patient to let go of these emotions as well as receiving the help they need at the same time. Music therapy is especially advantageous for those who experience issues with communication. Activities that are included in such treatment are singing, dancing, creating music, or by listening to music. By doing so, patients are able to express their feelings in a creative and entertaining way. 

In an article, J. Wonya speaks of the scenario involving the suicide of Chester Bennington following Chris Cornell’s death. She says, “A few years later, I overheard a coworker talking about how she didn’t believe Chester killed himself, and that it was a “setup” to get more record sales”(medium). There were many theories going around of how he wasn’t actually depressed. However, this is not the case, and can be proven through the lyrics he has created. For example, in his song, “Crawling,” he states, “crawling in my skin, these these wounds, they will not heal…to find myself again, my walls are closing in…discomfort, endlessly has pulled itself upon me distracting, reacting against my will I stand beside my own reflection. It’s haunting…” Based off of these lyrics, it is apparent that Chester Bennington was dealing with some troubles, more so than the average feelings of sadness.

In similar fashion, let’s take a look at some more proof by various artists who have been diagnosed with some type of mental illness. There are many songs with dark lyrics that are a result of the artist having mental illness. In the first place, Eminem has been diagnosed with depression and his song, “Stan”, writes “You coulda rescued me from drowning / now it’s too late, I’m on a thousand downers now, I’m drowsy / and all I wanted was a lousy letter or a call.” Another by Eminem, “Rock Bottom” writes “My life is full of empty promises and broken dreams / I’m hopin’ things look up; but there ain’t no job openings / I feel discouraged, hungry and malnourished.” These lyrics reflect Eminem’s diagnosis of depression through the negative phrases he encompasses in his music. Secondly, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day has been diagnosed with panic disorder and his band’s song, “Basket Case,” writes, “Sometimes I give myself the creeps / sometimes my mind plays tricks on me / it all keeps adding up I think I’m cracking up / am I just paranoid or am I just stoned?” Through this song, Billie Joe Armstrong includes his personal feelings and thoughts that continue to go through his mind. In addition, Morrissey of The Smiths has been diagnosed with depression and his band’s song, “I know It’s Over” writes “Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head.” All of these songs demonstrate how mental illness affects and is apparent in the lyrics of those artists who are suffering.

In an article titled, “Stop Reading Too Much Into Things!(You’re NOT as Intuitive as You Think” by Counseling for men, it is expressed that, “When it comes to being intuitive, I believe people are a lot worse at reading into things than they think.” This statement confirms that when you are reading into things, you are not correct in your assumptions. Moreover, you should stop reading into things all together. This will prevent any incorrect presumptions. However, not everything is as it seems. A sad song written by an “emo” band or artist is just written for the sake of their theme. But that’s not always the case. If you were to halt any sort of investigation, you will be unable to find potential proof. And in this case, the truths of what’s going on in the artist’s minds.

As has been noted, it is completely understandable that searching for hidden clues in song lyrics that reflect some sort of mental illness is rather excessive. A song may be sad, chaotic, or fearful, but to assume that it is as a result of showing signs of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other illnesses does seem to stretch the truth. These beliefs are fathomable, but it is important to realize that it is not the case in this situation. There is a common link between creativity and mental illness. Many songs reflect the type of life an artist has. Further, one’s mental health is a significant part in one’s life. Therefore, it is more than likely that if an artist suffers from some type of mental illness, it will show in the songwriting of those artists. With that being said, before making a decision that will deem something unlikely, have an open mind. Some conspiracy theories may be beyond belief, but not all.

References

Additional informationNotes on contributorsMichael ViegaMichael Viega. (n.d.). What’s in a song? Combining analytical and arts-based analysis for songs created by songwriters with neurodisabilities. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08098131.2016.1205651

American music Therapy association. (n.d.). Retrieved March 08, 2021, from https://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy/

Armitage, D., & Doughty, B. (2020, November 03). Stress and our mental health – what is the

 impact & How can we tackle it? Retrieved April 03, 2021, from   https://www.mqmentalhealth.org/stress-and-mental-health/?lang=en_us#:~:text=This%20long%2Dterm%20stress%20can,conditions%20like%20anxiety%20or%20depression.

An interview with The Singer-songwriter and mental Health Advocate, X.ARI! (n.d.). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://music.allaccess.com/an-interview-with-the-singer-songwriter-and-mental-health-advocate-x-ari/

Chester Bennington’s life story and the influence of his Dark passengers. (2021, April 11). Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://thedawnrehab.com/blog/chester-bennington-life-story/

Conspiracy theory. (2021, April 10). Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_theory

How talking helps. (n.d.). Retrieved April 03, 2021, from

 http://www.valueoptions.com/solutions/2011/11-November/story5.htm

Landau, E. (2013, August 23). When patients have ‘music emergencies’. Retrieved March 08, 2021, from https://www.cnn.com/2013/08/23/health/music-therapy

Mental illness and CREATIVITY: Singer songwriter Meg Hutchinson on bipolar disorder and medications. (2019, August 12). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://talentdevelop.com/3949/mental-illness-and-creativity-singer-songwriter-meg-hutchinson-on-bipolar-disorder-and-medications//* custom css */.tdi_98_160 .tdb-author-name-wrap{ align-items: baseline; }.tdi_98_160 .avatar{ width: 20px; height: 20px; margin-right: 6px;, Bartleet, L., By, & Bartleet, L. (2020, December 08). 50 songs about depression. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.nme.com/list/50-songs-about-depression-1109

Nera, K., Leveaux, S., & Klein, P. (2020, October 19). International review of social psychology. Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://www.rips-irsp.com/articles/10.5334/irsp.401/

Raypole, C. (2020, February 17). Why should i go to therapy? 8 signs it’s time to see a therapist.

 Retrieved April 03, 2021, from https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/why-should-i-go-to-therapy-8-signs-its-time-to-see-a-therapist-0118197#:~:text=A%20therapist%20can%20help%20support,it%2C%20and%20how%20to%20cope.

Stop reading too much into things! (you’re not as intuitive as you think). (2020, June 23). Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://parkslopetherapist.com/stop-reading-into-things/

Wynona, J. (2020, June 25). Conspiracy theories ignore music artist’s mental health – office hrs. Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://medium.com/@writerontheradio/conspiracy-theories-ignore-music-artists-mental-health-office-hrs-d90f10b3cdae

What is mental health? (n.d.). Retrieved April 03, 2021, fromhttps://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health

50 songs about depression. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.nme.com/list/50-songs-about-depression-1109

/* custom css */.tdi_98_160 .tdb-author-name-wrap{ align-items: baseline; }.tdi_98_160 .avatar{ width: 20px; height: 20px; margin-right: 6px;, Bartleet, L., By, & Bartleet, L. (2020, December 08).

This entry was posted in Portfolio RowanRat, Portfolios FA20, Research, rowanrat. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s