Hip-hop could help with depression and mental illness, Cambridge researchers say

Hip-hop could help with depression and mental illness, Cambridge researchers say
Published: 2014 November 11 16:43:18 (10078 Views)
Researchers at Cambridge University have claimed that hip-hop could be the best cure for depression and mental illness.

In an article in The Lancet Psychiatry, the team claims that lyrics which speak of overcoming hardships and struggles offer a refuge for the desperate, while 'rapping' problems acts as an emotional outlet.

"Much of hip-hop comes from areas of great socioeconomic deprivation, so it's inevitable that its lyrics will reflect the issues faced by people brought up in these areas, including poverty, marginalisation, crime and drugs," said Dr Akeem Sule, of the University of Cambridge.

"In fact, we can see in the lyrics many of the key risk factors for mental illness, from which it can be difficult to escape.

"Hip-hop artists use their skills and talents not only to describe the world they see, but also as a means of breaking free.

"There's often a message of hope in amongst the lyrics, describing the place where they want to be - the cars they want to own, the models they want to date."

Hip-hop originated in the South Bronx area of New York during the early 1970s and has become notorious for glamorising violence and objectifying women.

David Cameron warned that the genre "encouraged people to carry guns and knives" and the Wikipedia 'list of deceased hip hop artists' currently runs to 141.

Most, like Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. died of gunshot wounds, drugs overdoses or car accidents, although 'Pimp C' died from a combination of sleep apnea and too much cough syrup.



However the academics at Oxford and Cambridge claim the bleak vision created by artists can reach people who feel in an equally hopeless place.

They recommend The Message by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, released in 1982, which includes the lyrics: "I can't take the smell, can't take the noise Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice"

They also cite Juicy by The Notorious BIG, which is "dedicated to all the teachers that told me I'd never amount to nothin'" but details how he became successful.

The team points said the technique is similar to the process of 'positive visual imagery' which is being investigated by the University of Oxford.

This technique is a form of therapy whereby the patient is encouraged to use the power of their imagination to help them through difficult times, including through depression and bipolar episodes.

"We believe that hip-hop, with its rich, visual narrative style, can be used to make therapies that are more effective for specific populations and can help patients with depression to create more positive images of themselves, their situations and their future," says Dr Sule.

The psychotherapists are keen to take HIP HOP PSYCH into prisons, schools, and hostels to promote positive self-esteem through engagement with hip-hop artists.

"It's been about forty years since hip-hop first began in the ghettos of New York City and it has come a long way since then, influencing areas as diverse as politics and technology," said co-author Dr Becky Inkster Clinical Neuroscientist in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge.

"Now we hope to add medicine to the list."



Source - Telegraph

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