The experiences of metal fans with mental and developmental disorders in the metal music community

Kyle J. Messick, Blanca Aranda, Chris Day

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    A series of interviews were conducted to explore the experience of what it is like to be a member of metal music culture living with mental health conditions and/or developmental disabilities. Ten participants were interviewed, three of which had schizophrenia, four with autism spectrum disorder, two had bipolar affective disorder and one had borderline personality disorder. Thematic analysis was utilized to explore the experiences of people living with various types of mental illness and developmental disabilities in the context of metal, which resulted in the development of three overarching themes. It was found that participants felt that the metal music community was more welcoming to them due to the broad use of lyrics about mental health topics and the prevalence of metal musicians that have mental health concerns. The broad application of mental health topics in metal was seen as having a de-stigmatizing effect towards mental health concerns, but at the cost of accuracy, as topics like schizophrenia are seen as fetishized and inaccurately depicted. Participants reported that the metal community affords its members with mental health conditions and developmental disabilities a number of benefits including a sense of belonging, the facilitation of mood maintenance and the management of lesser symptoms. Symptom management appeared to be mitigated by symptom severity and influenced how participants experienced metal music.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)193-214
    Number of pages22
    JournalMetal Music Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2020 Intellect Ltd Article. English language.


    • autism
    • belonging
    • BPAD
    • BPD
    • heavy metal
    • mental illness
    • schizophrenia
    • stigma


    • Equality and Inclusion


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