Music and art are amazing things.
Music has a habit of getting us pumped up, chilled out, maybe even a little frisky, but what does music have to do with the brain and, in particular, our mental well-being?
I remember in high school there were all kinds of jokes going around about how some genres are correlated with suicidality and violence and there is some merit to that, at least according to studies released in the early 2000s. Pop and rap lyrics over the last 20 years have also gotten sexually violent in promoting aggression, not to mention music videos becoming more and more suggestive and/or explicit (Rich, M. et al. 1998; Cruz, C., & Bushman, B.J., 2014). Further, music videos and lyrics may also be affecting self-image in both boys and girls (Mulgrew, K.E., Volcevski-Kostas, D., & Rendell, P.G., 2014; Flynn, M.A., Park, S-Y., Morin, D.T., & Stana, A., 2015; Flynn, M.A., Craig, C.M., Anderson, C.N., & Holody, K.J., 2016). This is all before getting into music media and addictive behaviour (Collinson, L., Jodge, L., Stanley, J, & Wilson, N, 2015).
All citations will follow this posting along with hyperlinks to articles and/or abstracts. What I really want to focus on is how we can bend music and lyrics to fit our own needs outside of what the media has either presented explicitly or what is perceived implicitly.
For example, nude art. The most basic expression in hand-made art is the naked human form. In fact, many art programs will first instruct on how to depict basic human forms - hands, face, genitals - before moving on to adding clothing, movement, and alike. Nude art, however, is very rarely pornographic. Matt Fradd, a Catholic Apologist and Public Speaker, addressed this issue very well in two parts, both having to do with intention. First is the intention of the artist. Is the artist attempting to pay homage to the naked human form in all its beauty or are they trying to abuse the body? Are they attempting to arouse the audience sexually or intellectually? Second is the intention of the viewer. Does the viewer get their rocks off by looking at nude portraits? Is the viewer seeking to improve their artistic capabilities in viewing this image? If either of the intentions are for sexual gratification then the image becomes pornographic.
Equally with music. Regardless of what the artists and/or lyricists say there is explicitly sexual, violent, and subversive content available and it was made for the purpose of gratification, release, or subversion. A great example of this is 50 Cent (aka Curtis J. Jackson III) Candy Shop which is very explicitly about sex, violence, and drug use - even in the clean version. I heard a girl singing this to herself the other day who was at max 12 years old which is only slightly impressive because the song came out in 2005. Sexualization and violence in pop music is nothing new, either, simply looking at by Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Nine Inch Nails, Tove Lo, Maroon 5, Justin Timberlake, Eminem, Jay-Z, Madonna, Motley Crue, REM, Jane's Addiction, Saving Abel, Katy Perry, Kesha, Taio Cruz, Nicki Minaj, and alike... and those are just artists I am thinking of off the top of my head!
But what of the good of music? As mentioned at the top music can be very motivational. Athletes have favourites they listen to before hitting their respective fields and courts which sometimes include violent and subversive tunes but they are able to bypass that factor (although there are psychologists who would argue that some sports, such as boxing and hockey, are sublimations or ways for people to release their violent tendencies in a socially acceptable way). Good music, which I would describe as being upbeat in tone and non-violent/sexual in lyrics isn't as few and far between as people may think.
Find what you like and let me know your thoughts on music that makes you happy either by replying below or emailing me. I will update the post later with my picks.
Collinson, L., Judge, L., Stanley, J., & Wilson, N. (2015). Portrayal of violence, weapons, antisocial behaviour, and alcohol: Study of televised music videos in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 128.
Flynn, M.A., Craig, C.M., Anderson, C.N., & Holody, K.J. (2016). Objectification in popular music lyrics: An examination of gender and genre differences. Sex Roles.
Flynn, M.A., Park, S-Y, Morin, D.T., & Stana, A. (2015). Anything but real: Body idealization and objectification of MTV docusoap characters. Sex Roles, 72(5-6).
Mulgrew, K.E., Volcevski-Kostas, D., & Rendell, P.G. (2013). The effect of music video clips on adolescent boys' body image, mood, and schema activation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
Rich, M., Woods, E.R., Goodman, E., Emans, S.J., & DuRant, R.H. (1998). Aggressors or victims: Gender and race in music video violence. Pediatrics, 101(4).
Just a way to get a few thoughts across outside of the office. In this blog you may even find entries that assist in your healing without needing a session