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Ask the Rock Doc: 
Dr. BLT offers advice for a song to music-minded youth and adults in crisis. 

The following inquiry has been paraphrased, with certain details omitted and/or altered to protect the confidentiality of the subject.

Dear Dr. B.L.T.

I hope you can help. I am a beginner guitar player and your column has been an inspiration to me. Some day when I get more skills, and when I’m not so screwed up, I’d like to join a band. But lately, I’ve been scared to listen to music because something weird is going on. It’s like the bands know my most intimate secrets and they are telling the whole world about me in the songs. Some of the secrets are not even things I would tell my best friends. 

I have to listen real hard to pick it up, like it’s subliminal or something, but I swear it’s there. I cringe when I feel the secrets are about to be revealed and when I hear them, I am totally humiliated and never want to show my face in public again. 

Nothing even remotely like this has ever happened to me. Am I losing my mind? Kids at school seem to think I am. I told one so-called friend I thought I could trust, but he went ahead and let the cat out of the bag. Now when I go to school, everyone just laughs behind my back, and makes cruel jokes about the whole thing. I know this sounds crazy, but I honestly believe they may have also heard the bands talk about my secrets in the songs. Is there some sort of demon in me? I want to be completely free from all of this, but the more I try to shake it, the worse it gets.

Wannabe Free

Dear Wannabe Free:

If your classmates are laughing at you, it is not because you are a fool. It is only because they don’t understand your condition and don’t know the depth of your suffering. The Beatles have a song called “Fool on the Hill” that seems to be a sympathetic story about a man suffering from a mental health disorder that others are confused by and are afraid of. So they avoid him like the plague. In the process, he becomes further alienated from the very people he needs to meaningfully connect and interact with.. Many people suffering from mental health problems are misunderstood and ridiculed. They are shunned by those who don’t understand the nature of their suffering.

What you are describing has a name. It is something psychologists like me refer to as thought broadcasting. It is commonly associated with a type of schizophrenia that involves intense paranoia. However, other diagnoses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar Disorder often share some of the same features. So, without more information, I’m not sure how I would diagnose your condition. If you are using street drugs, the effects of the drugs could mimic the symptoms of a psychiatric condition or compound such symptoms. If this is the case, I would recommend a drug treatment program first, so that drugs as a contributing factor, can be eliminated.

If you are not using street drugs, then you can skip the drug treatment and instead immediately seek out professional mental health treatment. I recommend psychological testing first by a qualified professional. If you e-mail me back, I can help you find one in your area. At some point, you may need to see a psychiatrist about medication, especially if these intrusive thoughts have surfaced without any type of street drugs in the picture.

Psychological assessment will help a qualified professional determine what is the best course of treatment for you. This will include sharing some of those secrets you are so afraid to reveal, but this will only be necessary once you have learned to trust your therapist with even the darkest of these secrets.

As a fellow musician and one who has a deep passion for music, it grieves me to see the way that music is effecting you. Among a number of other mental health benefits, music is meant to soothe the savage beast, inside of all of us. It is sad when music becomes a vehicle to deliver disturbing messages.

You are worried that you may be possessed by a demon and that you may be losing your mind. Actually, though these thought broadcasts might seem like the voices of demons or enemies who wish to harm you, they may simply be red flags signaling that you are in too deep and need to seek professional help right away. Of course when our defenses are down, evil forces can and often do enter the mind, but I believe the verse in the Bible that says, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” If you haven’t asked God to come to your defense, there is no better time than now to do just that. If you want to hear more about God and how to let Him in, e-mail me back and I will help you with this part of it.

The late great Rich Mullins has written a song called “Awesome God” that depicts just how grand, how glorious and how powerful God is. If you hang around Christians, or have listened to some of their music, you may have heard this song. Getting professional help while tapping into the power of that Awesome God will put you on the path that leads to healing and recovery.

In the meantime, try to determine which songs seem to make you most fearful, anxious, and vulnerable to hearing between the lines. Take a long break from such songs, and concentrate on songs that are safe for you to hear, are positive in their message, and are found to counter the negative thoughts. In addition to the songs of Rich Mullins, I would recommend songs like “Let it Be.” Paul McCartney of The Beatles wrote it when he was in the midst of a personal crisis, like you are right now. It helped him to imagine his mother, Mary, who had previously died of cancer, right in front of him, guiding him through the darkness. Maybe as you listen to the song, you could picture someone who cares deeply about you, right there with you, like Paul did when you wrote, 

“When I find myself in times of trouble, 
Mother Mary comes to me, 
Speaking words of wisdom, 
Let it be.
And in my hour of darkness, 
She is standing right in front of me, 
Speaking words of wisdom, 
Let it be...”

If you are able to listen to these types of songs, listen to them as much as possible, and draw strength from them. Finding your way out of the darkness may seem like “The Long and Winding Road,” but when you finally get through it, you will find a “Good Day...” and plenty of “...Sunshine” waiting for you on the other side.  Take it from me, Dr. B.L.T. 

If you are a musically-minded person in distress, write Dr. BLT at drblt@drblt.com
 
 
 

Dr. BLT, aka Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, is a Christ-centered licensed clinical psychologist and university instructor who specializes in the psychology of modern music.  He uses his original songs as well as those of other artists to address the problems of his patients, including his biggest, sickest, most challenging patient--society.

His face and name recognition, particularly with teens, comes from his short part on a long Cake music video--the Cake video for “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” that earned the band a nomination for Ground Breaking Music Video of the Year on the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. 


 
 
 
 

 

 
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