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Experts explain how hip-hop can be used for mental illness

by Ashley Naples

Remember the days when people used to say that hip-hop was just music, and that it wouldn’t affect the way that people think?  You may also remember the days when hip-hop was just a New York thing, and how it caught on like wildfire as a voice of the people.  Those days are gone, but as the hip-hop generation gets old, the genre is being evaluated from an added and more mature perspective.  The same was true for Jazz, the Blues and many other musical arforms.

Hip-hop is one of the great cultural influences of the world.  After starting off in the South Bronx, the musical art form is now being applied in ways that were never previously imagined.  Oddly enough, hip-hop once sat on the fringes of society and was ridiculed as being an illegitimate style of music.  But a great deal has changed since that time.

Researchers at Cambridge University in England actually say that hip-hop can be used to treat mental illness.  The music is used to re-wire the brain’s circuitry among those who struggle with various diseases, some of which are difficult to treat.

Becky Inkster, a neuroscientist in Cambridge University’s department of psychiatry, and Akeem Sule, a consultant psychiatrist with the South Essex Partnership Trust, have created something called “Hip-Hop Psych,” which is being used to bring the music forth in a way to help those who are fighting mental illness.

This new finding is yet another piece of evidence that shows the psychological power of hip-hop.  Psychologist Monikah Ogando explained during a recent interview that hip-hop can also affect people in negative ways, like increasing the capacity for violence if the music speaks about shooting and killing.  So, it appears that the power of the music can go both ways, and there are probably other ways that it affects us that we’re not even aware of.

Use this power responsibly.

Inkster and Sule are planning to flesh out what that regimen will look like at an upcoming Cambridge conference, but they briefly described how they plan to incorporate the rap genre into mental illness treatment programs.

“Uses of hip-hop envisaged by Inkster and Sule include having patients write and rap their own lyrics as part of their therapy,” The Guardian explained.

Therapists have long encouraged their clients to use the written word to communicate their feelings more effectively, and hip-hop, if nothing else, is basically the written word put to a beat.

People will be encouraged to “write out where they see themselves in a year or two and to use rap lyrics to outline their future histories,” said Inkster.




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2 thoughts on “Experts explain how hip-hop can be used for mental illness

  1. al carter-bey

    hip hop a brain changer? sure it is. review the looks of young people after listening over over again to lyrics of a song; the power of something repeated often can certainly have an affect on the mind of the receiver…as anything else. this is not a favorable when it is negatively delivered.


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