Social Question

w2pow2's avatar

Can you give me a scientific explanation of why people cut/ physically harm themselves or listen to distorted music?

Asked by w2pow2 (490points) August 13th, 2009

So some family members cut and some friends cut. I just don’t understand it. Why would you harm yourself even more because of depression?

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48 Answers

w2pow2's avatar

Did I overdue it on the explanation a little?

sandystrachan's avatar

Because non distorted music is crap :) Without distortion it would be generic rock and we want METAL
Have you finished your little rant tho :P
Cut yourself and feel the endorphins rush through your body , thats why people do it that and to get help with the pain .

nebule's avatar

because there is no other obvious outlet for anger?
oh that’s not very scientific is it…ah well

w2pow2's avatar

I’m going to play the part of the retard.
What are endorphins? Do they have anything to do with dolphins?
(Keep in mind that I was very tired when I typed this)

w2pow2's avatar

I looked. And behold after hours of staring at the screen I saw that sandystrachan had typed a dot.
OK but SERIOUSLY, What are endorphins and what do they do? I know I could wiki it but fluther people ROCK at explaining it!

XOIIO's avatar

@w2pow2 cutting yourself create a nuerochrmical reaction that can have analgesic properties

Analgesic: relieving pain.

Neurochemical: your nerves send chemical reactions (synapses) and that is how you feel things.

dpworkin's avatar

And from a psychodynamic point of view there is speculation that some people have become so numbed by the horror of their experience that they cut in order to feel alive again. Fortunately, both ice and rubber bands can sometimes simulate the cutting sensation for some people, so that they can discharge the anxiety but in a manner that is not scarifying or infectible.

dynamicduo's avatar

Cutting yourself and listening to “distorted music” are two different things. I don’t even know what type of music you’re talking about, I guess I’ll assume heavy death metal with lyrics about death and killing etc.

Cutting yourself causes your body to go into a few interesting reactions. Your adrenaline probably starts ramping up, your mental pain is immediately superseded by this intense physical pain, your brain starts firing off interesting signals as it often does. Some people who cut themselves feel dead inside, they feel as if they don’t have any feelings whatsoever, so they cut themselves to cause themselves to feel something.

Listening to music, that’s another thing completely, yet at the same time it’s also related here. Some people listen to Music Type X because they enjoy the sounds or the lyrics or the passion of the music, and the effect these have on them. You thrash around to intense death metal solos just as you float on air when conducting along with classical music, you dance with a beat and a bit of silliness to ska music, you dance passionately when doing the tango. Others enjoy the music for its artistic purposes, many songs are written by artists going through a certain time in their lives, so understanding the inspiration behind a song can often reveal new ways to view and interpret the song. If you go to a Music Type X show you stand a high chance of being with people similar to you, or at least you already have one thing in common, so you can feel more comfortable socializing.

Sariperana's avatar

Its a way to release the pressure… Sometimes you are so full in a storm of emotions that you just need to release it somehow, cutting yourself and letting the blood flow is kind of like cleansing yourself.

Well that is how i imagine it to be – i have never actually done it… i suffer from vanity.

@w2pow2 Endorphins and Dolphins… that made me chuckle :)

Tink's avatar

Because they are too depressed and the moment you cut yourself you release those endorphins and it feels good.
As for the music, there are some songs/artists with just screaming in their songs. It can also be used when angry. Yes I do listen to it but I don’t cut myself. I know some music can give people a bad impression but it’s all good. And besides Metal rocks!! :)
Not all metal or hardcore music is about death and killing.

ShanEnri's avatar

I am shanenri’s daughter…I used to cut myself and harm myself…for me it was a release from the everyday stress. It made me feel better when I was down and out. Scientifically people will tell you that people that suffer from depression do not have as many endorphins as a person who doesn’t, cutting would be a way to release those endorphins to give the feeling of happiness. I also listen to “distorted” music, except we call death metal, gore, black metal…and many many other names…but I listen to it because it’s hard! I love being excited and that kind of music makes me feel excited, it gives me an adrenaline rush. (not sexually) lol. Some people may listen to it because it reassures them that there are other people outside of what they know that feel the same way as they do. I don’t know about the scientific part but I speak from personal experience…

cbloom8's avatar

Because the pain from cutting one’s self is like the manifestation of the pain they feel inside. Distorted Music because they are feeling ‘distorted’. Feeling pain and distorted and both things they feel, and doing listening and cutting manifest those feelings.

jaketheripper's avatar

I listen to “distorted” music and i’m fine. All my friends do to and their fine. While there may be a corrolation between people who cut and people who listen to “distorted” music, the music doesn’t really have much to do with it.

wundayatta's avatar

I think that @cbloom8‘s theory is a good one. Not that there aren’t other explanations, as well.

I think it can be a form of cognitive dissonance. That is, you might feel so bad inside, but there are no external conditions in your life that warrant feeling this bad. Therefore you need to punish yourself in order to make things equal. Well… I suppose you could try to eliminate the bad feelings to make things equal, but most people try that and fail, so that leaves the other choice as the only workable one.

Somehow, when you are in psychic or emotional pain, physical pain just feels right. When people mourn, they often tear at their clothes and thrash about, and do other things that might physically hurt them. Devouts used to go around beating themselves with whips or wearing things that would cut them and make them bleed. I think these kinds of pursuits held a natural appeal for depressives who feel responsible for the world and utterly inadequate to do anything to help it. Thus, they punish themselves for failing to do what their life’s mission is.

There is something about feeling pain, or perhaps even better, seeing the blood flow that is satisfying. It gives meaning to the pain. It justifies it. It releases you a bit. I’m just imagining this here. When I was depressed, I wanted to punish myself. I didn’t care if I got hurt. I wanted for there to be a reason why I was suffering. I didn’t cut myself, but I think I considered doing it or something like it. One thing I did was to scratch myself until I bled. That was very satisfying, somehow.

tinyfaery's avatar

The theory behind cutting is that the pain experienced by harming oneself eases the internal pain.

Music is all personal choice. I don’t know why people like Beyonce either.

w2pow2's avatar

Look I’m not prejudice against people who listen to distorted music. Nearly all of my friends do. And I know how addictive it is because I used to love it.
But I’m walking down one of the school halls. I hear static coming from someone’s unnecessarily loud I-pod. Hmm. Dude must have some kind of radio application on that I-pod. As I come closer… Oh silly me! It’s death metal! DUH!
Now I have a condition where music effects me more than it does the average person. It has an upside and a downside. Upside is it gave me a musical ear, and I’m good at playing stuff by ear. Downside: I have to be careful what I listen to. Distorted noises or dissonances irritate me more than the average Joe.
Now to those of you who think that music does not influence your mood… Man I’m sorry but science as well as obviousness would disagree with you.
SO the death metal that I’m talking about consists of more “noise” than classical or any other genre.
So does anyone wanna tango with an Aspergers person on the subject of music?

Tink's avatar

@w2pow2 Id like to tango with you. ~
Hey, your ears, your music.
Can you give me an example of an artist you are talking about? I’d like to know.

w2pow2's avatar

WOW ur quick!
An artist for death metal? As you guessed I don’t know many…
I don’t really know ANY as a matter of fact.
Oh and one thing I’ve observed is that when you’re hooked on hardcore stuff it’s hard to listen to classical music without falling asleep. And when you’re hooked on classical it’s hard to listen to hardcore without tearing out your hair.

Tink's avatar

Yeah I see what you mean, I cannot stand classical music, but I’m tonning down a bit and getting used to some of it. But hardcore isn’t really all screaming. It’s mostly the instruments.

w2pow2's avatar

I totally agree that it’s still music. There is still order to the music.
Can you give me a link to the kind of metal music you’re talking about?

Tink's avatar

Ok this one does have a bit of screaming but not alot:
Snake Devil by Scary Kids Scaring Kids.

w2pow2's avatar

Listened to the link you sent and I would TOTALLY agree that it was composed by someone very talented. In my head I was imagining the same song on the piano and it would sound really cool! Well to me at least cause I’m used to classical.
But the instrument that is used, I think the electric guitar, causes subtle irritation. And think we can both agree that the mood of the song is angry. And although words are influential they don’t have nearly as much influence as the music itself. He could be singing about how happy and peaceful his life is and the mind would still interpret it as angry.
And that’s another thing, any piece of music can be tweaked to sound like anything. You can turn Amazing Grace into a Hardcore head-banging song. And at the same time the song you sent me can be turned into a smooth and catchy classical song.

w2pow2's avatar

How many people have seen the movie August Rush? Freakin love that movie.
Music is much more than people confess it to be. To anyone who thinks that music is not influential- Go out and ask random people what music means to them. Especially anyone who would appear “Hardcore.” (I’m really trying to stray from stereotyping) I’ve done it and nine out of ten times they will say something to the effect of “Music is my life”. And yet those same people do not think music is influential.

Tink's avatar

I agree, haha just don’t listen to Drop Dead, Gorgeous. You will have a stroke if you are used to classical music and you listen to it. I love DD,G and they actually do have explict lyrics. But that’s just me.

jaketheripper's avatar

I don’t think music has as much of an effect on your mood as you say it does. In my experience if the mood of the music is the mood im in it will amplify my emotions but if not it seems that the only noticeable effect is that of arousal (not sexual). For example i will be in a good mood then listen to some very loud, fast, angry hardcore. It will get my heart going and i might get more excited, but i remain happy, possibly even more than before. The song may be seething with anger but it still gets me going in a good way.

Buttonstc's avatar

Yes, that may be very true for you who most likely has an average nervous system. Aspergers is on the higher functioning end of the Autism Spectrum, but speaking generally, folks anywhere on that spectrum have heightened sensitivity to many things like touch and sound and what may be mildly stimulating to most can easily be unbearable for them.

Temple Grandin is a fairly well known person in this category who has written numerous books where she eloquently explains how difficult it was for her (and still is) to fit into the world of average folk. She has done a great deal to facilitate communication of these two worlds since she can translate the experience so eloquently.

I’ve worked with some kids with neurological problems (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) and it’s just not easy for them many times. It’s difficult for average folks to imagine the incredible degree of sensitivity that they experience for things that seem fairly mundane to the rest of us.

w2pow2's avatar

@Buttonstc That is a dead-accurate explanation of Aspergers.
@Jaketheripper 9 – 1 = 8. NO FURTHER EXPLANATION NEEDED!!!
OK maybe a little… 9 represents the happy mood you’re in. 1 represents the angry effect of the song you listened to. 8 represents the outcome. Still positive, not negative, mind you.
And at this point you’re tearing your hair out yelling at the computer screen “BUT IT AMPLIFIED THE HAPPINESS YOU MORON!”
Well at first it will give you an arousal that feels positive at first, but guess what- You have a shorter fuse! You’re a tad bit quicker to anger than you were before.
And when it comes to the effect of music you really need an observer because just about everyone is bi-est when it comes to the music that they like.
Okay now lets change the equation. Lets make it 9 – 77 = -68
Wondering how you do that? Wondering how you get -77? Yeah you guessed it! LONGER EXPOSURE!
I encourage you to do a little experiment.
Listen to really depressing music. Like mad world. Devote every single day from here on out to listening nothing but really depressing music. Before long, maybe a week or two, it adds up to a clearly visible sum.
But before you do this experiment I want you to remember these words: Don’t do it you’ve got so much to live for
...Those words will come in handy in a week or so…

sandystrachan's avatar

I listen to all forms of metal , i even listen to classical music . Oh and i play guitar and bass self taught I also listen to any form of music , i don’t cut myself wait a sec i can also play things by ear :) Does that mean i have your special powers ?
Metal doesn’t make me angry , no music can have that effect on me i am always the same guy regardless the music :))

w2pow2's avatar

Again to yourself the effect is almost always unnoticeable. You really need an un-bi-est observer.
Now some people think “Hey man. The music may effect other people but not me man. I’m special.”
Yeah that’s right. Some people think they are superman.
If music has been proven to have a clear effect on PLANTS, ANIMALS and HUMANS then it’s pretty silly to think that you’re somehow immune.

sandystrachan's avatar

@w2pow2 I can honestly say playing and listening to metal does not make me angry , nor does any other music types music does not change my mood . I have plenty proof from plenty of people :) Do you wanna test me

w2pow2's avatar

Well again science and fact would disagree with you @sandystrachan. You can fantasize all you like but fact is still fact.
Lets get one thing straight: Music has an influence on mood. Can we all agree on that?

Tink's avatar

Yes it can, but not always. I can listen to emo and sad music and be totally happy. Or listen to happy music and be really pissed off.

w2pow2's avatar

I know we as human beings like to think that we cannot be influenced. Probably a sub conscience idea that encourages us to reach our full potential. But it aint so joe!
Now I know that the idea that music can influence you is new to pretty much EVERYONE WHO READS THIS but it’s obviously true! You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out! Listening to a sad song influences you to be what? Sad.

w2pow2's avatar

@tink1113 again 9 – 8 = 1. If a previous encounter has made you really ticked off then soothing music won’t calm you down instantly. But give it a while and it will calm you down. “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast.” Or however they say it.
And how many people, when they’re ticked off, actually go listen to calming music? probably a very low percentage.
Hold on I’ll brb to blab some more.

Tink's avatar

Haha. Well I’ll give you an example, right now I am listening to happy music, but I am in tears. I’m not happy, the songs aren’t really helping. But if I go and listen to some Slipknot then I might get more depressed. Or I might not, it really does depend at times.

w2pow2's avatar

Well if you listen to something with a self-insured, pre-conceived outcome then, in your mind, that outcome will come true. It’s called affirmations… I think.
I’ve sometimes asked my friends what they do when they’re in an angry mood. I’ve NEVER heard one of them say “Well Jon, I just take my I-pod and listen to some calming, classical music.” People JUST DON’T DO THAT except me.
Oh yeah! Now I remember what I was going to say!
Now I think everyone can relate to this: A family member yells at you in an angry rage. How does that make you feel? It encourages you to feel angry. And most of the time you you yell back at them (I know I do). Does anyone know what this proves? This has proved that a certain auditory sound can make you angry. Ok how about fingernails on a chalkboard? How does that make you feel? Irritated. Again it proves that a certain sound can make you irritated.
In the police force, the first thing they teach the hostage negotiators is to have a calm, soothing voice. In most hostage situations, the hostage-taker has what the police call ‘cornered rat syndrome’. He is in a fragile, irritated state, and if a negotiator so much as raises his voice it could result in the hostage-taker doing something stupid. A smooth, calm voice helps to keep the stress level down.
And even though I don’t believe in the Bible, it says somewhere in proverbs “Grievous words stir up anger, but a soft answer turneth away wrath.” Even those guys knew it!
Bottom line- It is painfully evident that certain sounds encourage certain emotions.
@sandystrachan Yeah I wanna test you. Someone challenge me on this.

Tink's avatar

Haha dude, I don’t even know what else to say, I just like talking about music. :)

w2pow2's avatar

I can dig that. but right now I’m interested in a debate. Please don’t give me an easy victory, people. I’m sure there’s got to be someone who has opposing evidence. Don’t be shy people!

Sariperana's avatar

I dont think music is a cause as much as it is used as an expression to whats already there.

bumwithablackberry's avatar

The connection between “distorted music” or music you don’t like, and self-harm (which we all do on some level, if not physical then maybe socially) is like the same connection between some hippie farting and a butterfly on the other side of the world flapping it’s wings. Frank Zappa said something very interesting he said “There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something we’d all love one another” FZ r.i.p. Anyways, I need another beer woman

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i agree with what @bumwithablackberry said.

music can alter your emotions, but listening to say, marilyn manson, is not going to make you cut yourself if you didn’t already have quite a decent amount of self-loathing in you already. that’s absolutely preposterous, and i wish everyone would stop trying to pin psychological problems on everyone else.

fathippo's avatar

i think ‘distorted’ music can make you feel awesome, or it does for me anyway, if you’re talking about people screaming and whatever else… you kind of descend into it and it expresses everything so perfectly and has the most awesome atmospheres (=D)

And the self harm thing, this is really not scientific, but kind of if there’s nowhere to go to get anything out outside, you kind of go inside to yourself instead.
I guess also endorphins can numb emotions you dont want there maybe…

Pat_thebear89's avatar

distorted music is what some people find relaxing or is just to their liking. Harming themselves in some way either means that they find pleasure in it or have a problem of some sort. to look at why they do it physically you gotta look at it mentally and emotionally.

Draconess25's avatar

@sandystrachan Completely agreed.

I cut myself, but very rarely (I’m too much of a klutz, so I get injured enough on accident). I’m not depressed. I don’t do it for attention. I’m simply a sadomasochist that enjoys the feel of metal & the sight/taste of my own blood.

People say I need help, but I don’t believe it’s a problem unless:
A.)You’re actually trying to off yourself.
B.)You cut too deep, or hit a major blood vessel,
C.)You’re in unsanitary conditions.

It’s not quite scientific, but those are my beliefs.

And what the HELL does music have to do with self-mutilation?

Draconess25's avatar

@w2pow2 I listen to both types, & I am absolutely fine.

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