Saturday, 9 August 2008

Mood Music

An interesting, if wildly flawed study, appeared in this week's Australasian Psychiatry (no, I'm not a subscriber. I tend to take The Scottish Psychoanalyst instead.)

Here's a key bit: "There is no evidence to suggest that the type of music you listen to will cause you to commit suicide, but those who are vulnerable and at risk of committing suicide may be listening to certain types of music," said Felicity Baker, the author of the study. With a straight face, presumably.

So the premise is that certain defined types of people gravitate to specific kinds of music: teeny boppers who love pop are "more likely to be struggling with their sexuality." Rap and metal fans could - wait for it - "be having unprotected sex and drink-driving." Jazz fans are usually misfits and loners. Could the cliches come any thicker or faster? Presumably the Maroon 5 fan is a model of dull conformity and will lead a long, healthy and happy - if limited - life. The study concluded that doctors should include musical tastes as a diagnostic indicator in mental health assessments, which sounds downright dangerous to me. I'd have been put in a straightjacket at the age of 14 if someone had been monitoring what I was listening to. I may even have been forced to explain how much fun I was having wallowing in my misery.

Funny. All the teens I know have such madly diverse tastes in music that it blows these kind of ridiculous assumptions out of the water. They pick and mix, now more than ever. Thankfully Michael Bowden, a child psychiatrist and the head of medical programs at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry, was on hand to display some measure of good sense: "The key to understanding any teenager is to treat them with respect by listening to what they have to say, rather than typecasting them according to the type of music they listen to." And Amen to that.

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