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Is it possible that listening same music with your partner can synchronize emotionally?

Is it possible that listening same music with your partner can synchronize emotionally?


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Music forces us to feel emotions. Some music calms us, some music give us energy. What emotions music makes us feel can be different in each person but generally gives same emotions to us.

We have emotional turbulence in our daily routine. Sometimes our emotions sync with our partner but sometimes not. Is it possible that listening the same music with your partner can synchronize emotionally? Is there any scientific research for that? My field is not psychology so I am asking to you.


I think that one of the most basic and universal responses a person can have to music is engagement. When listeners are engaged with music, they follow the sounds closely connecting in an affective way to what they hear.

Moreover, music listening and music therapy is becoming an important topic of social neuroscience scientific inquiry (Kamioka et al., 2014). This branch of research is facilitated by Hyperscanning EEG which provides the opportunity to explore dynamic brain activities between two or more participants (Liu et al., 2018).

I'd like to suggest to you the following study by Lindenberger and colleagues (2009). The authors recorded EEG from the brains of pairs of guitarists playing a short melody together to investigate the rate of cortical synchronization in the course of music-driven actions.

In order to measure the rate of brain synchronization, they implemented the phase-locking index (PLI) which reflects invariants of phases across trials measured from single electrodes. As you can see in the first figure both the participants playing and listening to each other music showed fronto-central activity and Synchronization measured by the PLI index suggested that the activity is the highest at fronto-central sites. Especially, in the image below you can see the PLI distribution in the fronto-central brain regions at the theta frequency.

Finally, they used another index called Interbrain Phase Coherence (IPC) which represents the degree of constancy in phase differences across trial between two electrodes measuring the activity from two different brains. In the figure below you can see synchronization between brains as measured by IPC: coherence was also strongest for fronto-central connections.

I hope that this paper partly answered your doubts. I do not know any study directly investigating brain synchronization in romantic couples, but if you think that romantic couples can be a discriminating factor to study brain synchronization while listening or practising music you could put on an experiment that considers romantic couples as an experimental group and friends/acquaintances as a control group. Always remember, however, that you must justify the choice of your experimental groups with strong literature.

REFERENCES

  1. Kamioka H, Tsutani K, Yamada M, Park H, Okuizumi H, Tsuruoka K, Honda T, Okada S, Park S. (2014)Effectiveness of music therapy: a summary of systematic reviews based on randomized controlled trials of music interventions. DOVEPRESS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S61340
  2. Difei Liu, Shen Liu, Xiaoming Liu, Chong Zhang, Aosika Li, Chenggong Jin, Yijun Chen, Hangwei Wang and Xiaochu Zhang. Interactive Brain Activity: Review and Progress on EEG-Based Hyperscanning in Social Interactions. Front. Psychol., 08 October 2018 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01862
  3. Ulman Lindenberger, Shu-Chen Li, Walter Gruber and Viktor Müller. Brains swinging in concert: cortical phase synchronization while playing guitar. BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10:22 doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-22

10 Excuses That Hide Emotionally Abusive Relationships

Last reviewed by Sheri Jacobson June 30, 2015 Counselling, Relationships, Self Esteem 44 Comments -->

Emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse or mental abuse) is any form of non-physical abuse designed to cause damage to another person’s mindset and erode their sense of wellbeing .

It most often involves someone imposing their power over you in a way that attacks your sense of confidence and makes you depend on them , whether that is through control, coercion, manipulation, degradation, bullying, and/or verbal cruelty.

The perpetrator might psychologically abuse you in such a careful way that they know nobody will take you seriously if you complain. In this way psychological abuse can be sadly difficult to prove.

Emotional abuse can include:

  • name calling and putdowns
  • constantly belittling you in front of others
  • pressuring you to do things you have said you don’t want to
  • telling lies about you to others
  • ignoring you when you are trying to communicate
  • controlling who you speak to and see or isolating you from loved ones
  • monitoring everything you do, including emails and texts
  • not letting you go out alone
  • sulking if you don’t do what they say
  • making you think you are nothing without them and ‘need’ them
  • telling you everything is all your fault
  • controlling your finances

Why emotional abuse is a big deal

Although emotionally abusive relationships might not leave physical marks, they can leave deep psychological issues it takes years to heal from.

Emotional abuse corrodes your self-esteem , meaning you are left with not only no confidence but even no idea of who you really are any more. You might even suffer an identity crisis . These issues can combine to make it difficult to get into future relationships and can affect both your career, social life, and finances. Low self-esteem is also is a very common path to depression.

Emotional abuse is often is the precursor to physical abuse – in fact it is seen as the most reliable predicator that your partner has the potential for physical abuse .

Who does emotional abuse affect?

Emotional abuse is pervasive, crossing culture, gender, age, and types of relationships.

The Home Office in the UK claims that when it comes to cases of reported abuse, emotional abuse is more common than any other form of abuse, with men almost as affected as women. 46% of men reporting abuse had suffered psychological abuse, in comparison to 57% of women.

Emotionally abusive relationships are not just romantic, either. They can be familial relationships or work relationships. Workplace bullying is a form of emotional abuse.

10 Excuses You Are Making About Emotional Abuse

Below are a series of excuses that are commonly used by victims in denial they are suffering psychological abuse at the hands of another.

1. It’s normal, really.

Emotional abuse is, sadly, common. But this does not mean it is normal. A healthy relationship does not involve constantly being belittled, manipulated, and controlled.

2. It’s my fault, I drive him/her crazy.

A key tactic of emotional abuse is psychological manipulation, which often means making you think it’s your fault, that you are ‘crazy’ or ‘too much’. But constantly blaming you for everything is just another form of emotional abuse. A healthy relationship involves both people taking responsibility for what isn’t working.

3. It’s just their sense of humour/ they are only kidding.

Sometimes we all gently poke fun at someone we love. But the key is sometimes. This sort of joking also happens when it’s a two way street. If you are constantly the subject of ‘jokes’, and the only person being made fun of is you, it’s likely less funny or kind and more likely abuse.

4. They don’t really mean it.

In the heat of an argument we all say things we regret. But how often are their comments callous? Or do they force you to do things you don’t want to? Daily? More that daily? And are such things done offhandedly, as if it’s normal? If they don’t really mean it, they why are they constantly saying or doing what they are?

5. It’s just their weird way of showing they love me /Deep down I know they love me.

What is their ‘unweird’ way of showing they love you? And how often does that happen compared to their unkindness? If they do nice things once or twice a month, but put you down and bully you daily, how is this love, when love is a supportive accepting relationship between two people?

6. But I’ve been mean, too.

Over time, being emotionally abused is ‘crazymaking’. In other words, the nicest person will start being snappy in return, or manipulating back. Take note of how many times you are ‘mean’ compared to their output. And try to understand how you got to this place where you have lost sight of yourself so much you now think you are a bad person. If this is a self belief that has only developed since the relationship?

6. That’s just the way he or she is.

Perhaps this is true. Perhaps they truly are unkind most of the time. But that is not to say you are to put up with it.

7. I can take it/ It doesn’t bother me that much.

This is a common excuse when it comes to emotional abuse – a sense that you are ‘cut out’ to deal with difficult people. This is really just codependency. It means you are using all of your energy to ‘handle’ another person. That is not a relationship, it is a power struggle.

8. I like being treated this way, if I’m honest.

Sadly, some sufferers of psychological abuse reach a point they convince themselves they like being abused. Nobody, deep down, likes being hurt. This is a survivor mechanism an the result of so much manipulation and blackmail you are taking the blame.

9. It could be worse.

If you are telling yourself it’s not so bad as you aren’t being physically hurt, remember again that emotional abuse often eventually leads to physical abuse. And also remember that the psychological damage you are creating by being in an emotionally abusive relationship can take far longer to heal than any broken bone.

10. If I just stick it out things will change.

It’s very unlikely that an emotional abuser can change within the structure of a relationship unless he or she has committed to transform and admits to having a problem. Don’t see this as advice to spend all your time cajoling your partner or family member into therapy, though. Unless someone attends therapy of their own accord it is rarely useful. But then there is you…

Can therapy help me?

Manipulation is an art, and it can leave the brightest, strongest person confused.

It can be very hard to get the perspective and strength to walk away, and often an emotionally abused person does not want to turn to friends and family for fear of hearing ‘I told you so’.

A counsellor or psychotherapist can offer unbiased support and create a safe environment to unpack what is going on and what you would like to do next. To find a therapist to talk to online by Skype, you can also visit our sister site harleytherapy.com to find counsellors who specialise in working with people who have suffered abuse.

Have you used another excuse to deny that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship? Feel free to share below.

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I have been in an abusive relationship for 22 years. And not really. Realised.

Sorry to hear that. It’s never too late to take care of yourself and make different choices, and to seek support if you need it.

I hv bn in an emotionally abusive marriage for 23 years. We hv a child, main reason I stay. Also I need to be less dependent so I’m going to get a dental assistant certificate so I can earn my own money.

A great idea to do things that help you feel more independent and remind you that you are a powerful person. Have you researched if there are any support groups in your area? Other people going through what you are might be able to help you access resources that mean you don’t have to stay if you don’t want to.

Abuse abounds in many areas from home to work to general interactions with other people. Instead of retaliating of speaking your mind to difficult or toxic people it may be easier to adopt a simple mantra instead. Eckhart Tolle suggests that insteadvof flaring up from a point of ego it is simpler to recognise that the offending person may lack consciousness. Instead of personalising their behaviour an option is to note what they do and how you feel but not mull over the other person’s lack of respect or self awareness. Remember that you can only control your own response and build an imaginary wall between the difficult person to keep your peace of mind intact.

Yes, it’s very true that we can choose whether to react or not react, and mindfulness is invaluable when dealing with people who feel a need to project their insecurities on others. Retaliation, or vengefulness, becomes a power struggle that can lead to both parties being abusive and that is often an addictive road to go down. But on the other hand, if one is being emotionally abused, it’s important not to take the viewpoint “I can handle this all by myself I just need to block it”. That’s actually close to codependent thinking. If you are experiencing emotional abuse and it’s affecting you more and more, It’s important not go into denial and to recognise you need support.

I left an emotionally abusive relationship with support from my mother but have now realised she is emotionally abusive worse than my partner which explains a lot . They fight over my attention and I am submissive in their company as I have no job and am co dependant I now realise . It stems from my childhood I was chosen to be the person to do everything for my mother . When she divorced I took over father role in the house . I have lost 4 relatives in 2 years including my father and am worn down my X has been very supportive and says he is lost without me and I feel the same we want to be a family again but can people change . I have become dependant on my daughter for company as we moved and I have no friends I feel I am turning into my mother as she has influenced me far too much I realise that now interfering in my relationship .

Your self awareness is very powerful! You see quite clearly the cycle of codependency in families. It’s a strong cycle, and good for you for recognising that you are about to do the same thing to your own daughter but don’t want to. Yes, people can change, absolutely, but it isn’t overnight and it does require commitment. Is your ex willing to seek support? If someone is abusive it usually means they have unresolved childhood trauma. Without professional support it’s unlikely such a big issue can change. As for going back to the relationship, what are the real positives of that? Is it just that it feels good that he is ‘lost without you’? Are there really enough positives to turn around? Can you write them down? What does it feel like reading the list of positives, and what are the negatives? Is there another way forward you haven’t seen yet? And what could you do to step more into your own power now, so that you can more clearly see other options? Is there someone you can talk to who is outside this situation and can give you impartial feedback? A support group or maybe a counsellor?

My husband verbally lashes out at me when he wants to dispel his anger. I could be reading and in he comes fussing about something that I had nothing to do with. I one argued with him, but that never helped. He always thinks that saying sorry and being affectionate afterwards is enough. I’m so fed up with this behavior!

My husband verbally lashes out at me when he wants to dispel his anger. I could be reading and in he comes fussing about something that I had nothing to do with. I once argued with him, but that never helped. He always thinks that saying sorry and being affectionate afterwards is enough. I’m so fed up with this behavior!

That does not sound like a great situation. Does he know you don’t like this pattern and don’t feel that saying sorry is enough? Would he consider going to a couples counsellor together?

It sounds hard. It’s interesting that you only once argued with him. How long has this been going on? What within you feels that it’s been okay to let it go on this long while saying so little? And is there any way you could reach out for support to look at what you are getting out of this relationship and how you might start to set some boundaries that work for you?

When the emotional abuse first started, I would call him on the offcolor or borderline things he would say… Telling me I wasn’t very smart, I’d put on a little weight, etc. He would always tell me “You’re too sensitive.” I knew from life before him that I could be sensitive sometimes. So I took it as an opportunity to grow, to learn patience and understanding. Next time he said something similar, I still didn’t like it but I rolled my eyes instead and moved on. “You’re too sensitive” was what I started telling myself to justify when he said and did horrible things to me, embarrassing me in friends, breaking up with me as a form of punishment and getting back together with me as a “reward.” Ponting out younger and more attractive women at the bar, saying “why can’t you look like that?” or offering to give me to his friends (who were good guys and fortunately didn’t encourage him when he did that.) Thankfully we’re not together anymore but he still tries to control me through my dog which he legally owns but I raised.

It’s good that you spotted what is undoubtedly emotional abuse and moved on. Sad about the dog, however….

How can you tell if you are being emotionally abusive as well or if you’ve just been pushed too far and gaslighted into thinking you may be?

My boyfriend has narcissistic traits and has been abusive in the form of constantly saying things that jab at my self esteem (he compliments me just as much and thinks this makes up for it) and lashes out at me verbally when he is annoyed by me. I did not realize this was abusive until I was pregnant with his daughter who is now 8 weeks old. He was especially mean to me when I was pregnant. He yelled at me for looking for a blanket in the middle of the night at his studio when I was freezing cold and pregnant – just an example). He was constantly swinging from telling me he loves me to telling me he didn’t feel for me anymore, which really messed with me when I was pregnant and just wanted to be a family. He cheated on me and lied to my face and after finding out and crying about it one day, he refused to hug me. Now, he is trying. I told him I want him to go to psychotherapy, and he started seeing a “life coach” which I did not think was good enough but I have seen improvements. Is it worth trying with him? What can I do for myself to heal from all of this? Thank you.

That’s a very good question. And it gets very complicated in unhealthy relationships. If we stay long enough, we all tend to play all roles, or roles can switch around. But we’d actually suggest that you are asking the wrong question here. What about questions like, why am I staying in this relationship? What is this relationship giving me? What would it take to move on from this relationship if it’s so crazymaking? We hope that helps.

It sounds like you’ve been through a lot, which is especially amazing seeing as through it all you’ve had a child. You can’t change him, he is the only one who can do that. The only person you have power to shore up, support, and help here is yourself (and by default your child). It would be a good idea to consider counselling yourself, to look at what is keeping you in this relationship, if there are any patterns of this sort of relationship in your life, and how you can build up your self-esteem. At the very least it would stand as an example to him of someone who is willing to put the work in to change. If you are on a low budget, see our piece on low cost counselling. We wish you courage!

Hello I’m in an abusive relationship my husband verbally abuse me by calling me names and bring up my past when he has done wrong he quickly shuffle the blame on me I often fI nd myself just telling him what he wants to hear to make things right since we have been married I haven’t been able to sleep it’s so bad that I’m now on ambien I’m also on antidepressants, what should I do we are talking divorce is that the best solution,

Thank you for this honest sharing Vanessa. We can’t tell you what to do as we don’t know you or your partner or the full situation, what else is going on, your past, his past….and these sorts of problems are always complicated. But there are good questions to ask here. What keeps you in the relationship? Is this a pattern in your life? His life? Did you already have anxiety, and the relationship made it worse? Is there anything worth salvaging here? Would you both be willing to go to couples counselling together? Usually, in these sorts of relationships, it’s a pattern from childhood you’ll both be acting out. The emotions you feel and the things you bring to the way you relate will be much bigger than just the relationship itself, so seeing each other clearly becomes very difficult. This is why your anxiety would be through the roof, as any sense of not being safe in the world, caused by things in your past, will combine with the threat you feel when he is unkind, and you might literally have feelings of terror with each casual criticism he makes. A couples therapist can help you see each other clearly and communicate in ways that are useful instead of destructive. In situations like this, both partners need to be willing to work on the relationship and change, though, otherwise it is very hard for any real change to occur. Hope that helps. If he is not willing, it is well worth seeing a counsellor yourself, as a high level of anxiety and choosing abusive partners is a sign of past trauma that needs resolving or it will replay in each relationship you have. On a positive note, with commitment to personal growth such patterns can and do change. We wish you courage!

After roughly two years of abuse I gradually recognised what it was, and that I can get out, it was hard cause I had to do it all in secret by myself (flat hunting, viewing, referencing, deposits etc.), and it was difficult and there were times after moving I cried , but I knew I’d made the right decision. This was three months ago and I’m gradually rebuilding my life, finding who I am again. Sadly I had to leave my cat behind and I think about her all the time, but I know that that was her home and she’d be happy there and well looked after, even though I miss her so much.

Matt thank you so much for sharing this, you are a brave man and it’s sure to inspire all those who read it. That is so, so hard about your cat, animals are such important parts of our lives, we’re sorry.

I think I’m being emotionally abused. My husband often ignores me when I speak to him, staring away from me, blanking me. He then expresses annoyance or feigned surprise when I point out that I was speaking to him. He also implies that he puts up with a great deal from me, but never tells me how, when I ask him, what I’m doing wrong. He is ALWAYS right. He quietly makes all the decisions although he would deny this, “We’ve talked about this already,” which suggests a resolution has been reached, which it never has. He calls me stupid “in fun” except I don’t find it funny. He has made unilateral decisions about our finances. He tells me not to shout at him (when I’m not shouting). He will NOT discuss emotions or anything contentious, if I try to do so he immediately turns on me the very thing I’ve said to him. If I hit home with a remark he will immediately “explode” and storm off. Always there is the suggestion simmering in the background that he suffers in his relationship with me, that I am very difficult to live with. He never explains what I do wrong. He is the saint and I am lacking. I am exhausted.

Julie, that sounds really hard. You are not been heard at all, which must feel so defeating. We don’t know the whole story from just a comment, for example, we don’t know what the positives are, why you haven’t left this relationship. We don’t know your past, what bought you two together and whether these patterns you talk of are recent or were always this way. But what is clear is there are massive communication issues here. And calling someone stupid is really not okay. So if he was up for it, we’d say couples counselling would be a great idea. If you think he’d explode, then we suggest it’s a good idea for you to find some support for yourself here, to understand what is keeping you in a non supportive, controlling relationship and what you want next for yourself. We hope that helps.

I’m going through an abusive relationship where he always makes things up saying well u cheated on me and I never cheated he curses me out calls me out my name at the same time I’m pregnant and it’s really starting to take a toll on me.

Bryniesha, this is not normal or fair and is indeed abusive and a common tactic used by men to try and control women, trying to make them look bad when they have done nothing so the partner can then imply they have the right to treat you poorly when they absolutely do not. We do get many comments from women who are in abusive relationships but are pregnant or just had a child, sometimes it takes having a bigger priority like a child to wake us up so we can realise that we are not in a positive situation. We highly recommend you find support here. If you can’t afford counselling, look for a free hotline, or a charity that supports mothers, or a forum for women with controlling abusive partners. There is help out there. Do what you can to find it. We wish you courage.

Thank you for sharing this. I was once in an abusive relationship where I probably used all of these excuses throughout our entire marriage. I was finally able to leave it after many years and decided to write a book about it, in hopes to help others who are going through the same things. It’s called exactly how I feel: He Never Deserved Me

Congratulations on the book Ariana, we are sure it will be helpful for many.

I ended a 4.5 year on and off relationship nearly 12 months ago. In this relationship I found myself people pleasing, walking on eggshells to keep the peace and the relationship. He demonstrated passive aggressive conflict avoidance behaviour, ie: nothing was EVER resolved just swept under the carpet and yes I enabled this, sulking, stonewalling, deflecting, jealousy towards my treasured pets particularly an aged dog that was going on 20 years old and another dog that developed heart failure both needed extra care. He also cheated on me and promised to attend counselling around this but never committed to this. He suffered childhood sexual abuse and was adopted I don’t see him as evil but understand that I could not expect to be with a man who has untreated issues of his nature and not expect that he has behaviour that’s evident of it. My problem now is that he moved on with someone else within a heart beat of us ending posting it all over FB, living with her within 4 months etc. I am now obsessed with them and if I see them together or hear about them I get a visceral reaction in my body and my grief is not leaving. I am not ‘moving on’ but doing everything necessary to move on keeping active, not looking at FB, going on an occasional date. I have a lot of interests walking, horse riding and friends and family attend regular counselling but it does not appear to be working. Why am I still obsessed and so sad that he has found someone and that this new relationship is ‘working for him?

Gosh that is really hard, and believe it or not actually common. There are many of us out there who, when rejected or abandoned, even if by someone we don’t even like, then become addicted/obsessed with that person. Why are there so many of us? Because this is a brain response created by childhood trauma. Sadly, many of us are traumatised as children in the society we live in. So this response won’t be about him or that relationship. (And we’d guess this might not be the first time you’ve felt this sort of response?) It will actually be deeply rooted in an experience from childhood that left you feeling abandoned/rejected/traumatised. Your visceral reaction is a PTSD-like reaction, it’s a cortisol rush most likely, a fight-flight-flee response. This is caused by trauma that leaves someone in a sort of long-term PTSD. We are willing to be there is even a fair amount of trauma in your childhood, and that is quite evident or you would never have chosen to go near a man who is so disturbed. General counselling can sometimes not work if there is a trauma incident, in fact sometimes it can make things worse! This is because just talking about trauma, if you have a form of long-term PTSD, can cause a sense of being re-traumatised. If any of this sounds possible, if there is trauma in your childhood, then you’d be best with a therapist who is trauma-based and integrates EMDR, then possibly CBT therapy which literally retrains the brain away from black/white thinking. Schema therapy might also be something to look into long-term. You might also find other forms of therapy that work with trauma that work for you, that are more alternative and outside our realm of expertise to mention.We say all this with the caveat that we don’t fully know you, so we are not able to give you any diagnosis, that this is just a series of suggestions based on what you mention. We hope it helps.

My husband constantly criticizes me. He tells me he’s being honest and I should know these things. His comments are you sweep to slow, you never cut a tomato right, talk louder, that sounded dumb and everyone else would think so too. He goes on to say that when I do these things I put him in a bad mood and that I annoy him and how he feels alone because I can’t have an intelligent conversation with him. I see his perspective that I can sweep faster or learn not to cut a tomato crooked and sometimes I do sound “blonde”. I’m at the point where I stone walling him because I can’t be the perfect person he wants me to be so it’s easier just to avoid all conversation with him. I know that’s not healthy for a relationship but I don’t know what to do. Is this constructive criticism or verbal abuse? Do I need work harder and always remember to talk Louder and think before I speak so I don’t say stupid things? What’s you take on this very narrow window of my life?

Kelli, we are of course only working with limited information that a comment can contain. We don’t know you or your husband or the full situation. But he sounds extremely critical and controlling. Picking on someone for the way they cut a tomato or sweep is horrible, and blaming you for how he feels about his life is really not healthy. It’s not constructive criticism it’s outright mean. You are basically living on eggshells always trying to do things ‘right’. That is not the way a relationship should be. It means you are being controlled and belittled. Is there anyone you can talk to? Is there any support for you here? we don’t know what country you are in, what your options are, how safe it is for you to reach out for help…

My family supports the person abusing me. My father even attracts women who are bossy and he is possibly a victim caught up in the abusive behavior, since he does support the person who is abusive in the family. I do not see any of the family members. I have felt the abuse since i was a child. I am 32.

Hi Trine, it sounds hard. But at the age of 32 you are a full grown adult who can make choices and who can walk away from abusive situations or set boundaries, family members or not. If you can’t, if your self esteem is too low and you struggle to be honest, set boundaries, and say no, that’s okay to. Many people have problems with this. But do seek counselling. A good counsellor will help you learn to step into your personal power and stop being put in the child box but become the woman in charge of her own choices. As for your father, unfortunately he is an adult too, free to make choices to lead his life the way he likes. If that is damaging to you, then it becomes about deciding how much contact you want to allow. You can’t control your father or his choices, but you can control what you allow in your life.

Hello, I have been married to an outwardly very nice and supportive man for nearly 25 years. However I fear, that I may be in an emotionally abusive marriage. The trouble is on the outside everything is fine. He has a very successful career, so much so that I don’t have to work, we have three fantastic children, a nice house, lots of wonderful foreign holidays, equaling what might appear an enviable lifestyle . An outsider may think I have nothing to worry or complain about.
Yet I am not emotionally happy. Throughout our marriage he has always but his career, the opinions and views of his side of the family , who do not accept me as I am not English, his interests and socialising with his colleagues first. He chooses where we holiday and when, any suggestions by me fall on deaf ears. He has always chosen where we live. At one point I was abandoned in the middle of hostile remote village completely isolated, while he carried on with his life. He has admitted that he is worried about losing me, yet treats me with contempt, refuses to discuss anything that doesn’t suit him or he finds uncomfortable to the point where arguments have developed out of sheer frustration. Instead of clearing the air, he proceeds to sulk, stonewall and shut me out. Until the next time I try to talk to him and he ignores me which inevitably leads me to becoming angry eventually. This cycle then repeats itself on and on.
A few years ago I had a mental breakdown due to his unreasonable and “odd” behaviour. I became convinced that he had an affair because he was so distant, cold and distracted and became very irritable with the children. We argued a lot and eventually I became so distressed that I tried to take my own life. ( Husband denies affair, “it all in my head “). I hospitalised and diagnosed with psychotic depression and emotional instability.
I had extensive therapy as a result for my “emotional difficulties “ and we even had couples counselling. During the sessions husband put on a perfect supportive partner cloak and was promptly proclaimed a saint for putting up with me.
However as soon as the therapy ended and I was discharged from the services, his controlling, manipulative and ostracising behaviour has returned.
I think, he has deliberately framed me as unstable in order to maintain control.
However as he has isolated me, had me labelled as mentally ill and has not physically attracted me, I cannot prove any of this.
Is it all possible that I might be right and am married to a controlling and manipulative man or is it really true that this is all in my head as he says?

Hi Hannah, anything is possible in this world we live in! We don’t know you or him, so we of course can’t diagnose anything over a comment box. But our questions here are nothing to do with him. Our questions are all to do with you. You are evidently feeling very unhappy, trapped, and a victim. And yet, if you have been together 25 years your children would not be terribly young at this point or even live at home one imagines? So we are not clear why exactly you are staying in a situation where you feel trapped, unhappy, and controlled? Do you have a life of your own in the form of friends, hobbies, a job? Do you have outlets to be yourself and grow your sense of identity and personal power? What would it feel like to take all the energy you are investing on trying to prove him wrong and put it all into getting to know yourself and your own power to make choices and create change in your life? Because the one thing we are sure of is that you can’t change him. You can’t make him be someone else. Nor can you change the past. But you have immense power to decide how you are going to feel, how you are going to let this determine your life ahead, what you are going to focus on, and what choices you are going to make to create the life you have left. We wish you courage.

I am having a very difficult time admitting that all of the stuff I am reading (and believe me I have read many things on this subject recently) applies to me. I have been married for going on 20 years. I have recently began questioning my husbands behavior toward me. I don’t know why all of a sudden I started to realize that the issue was his behaviour as I believed for many years his reactions were because of things I did. He is extremely critical of everything I do. Always saying :why would you…” to everything from which route I take while driving to what music I listen to. For many years I actually thought he was acting that way because I did something to make him. Also he is always accusing me of cheating. Calls my cell phone repeatedly if i am out with friends and if he doesn’t do that the his bad mood when i get home made me just not bother to go out for fear of having to deal with his emotional outbursts. Our children are older so that is not a reason to stay. I make the same amount of money as him so that’s not it either. I guess the reason is i have always felt these things were my fault and now see that isn’t the case.

Hi Christine, sometimes when kids leave home we have more time to think. It sounds like there are very real problems in your relationship you now have time to recognise. But this does not mean that they cannot be overcome. As it also sounds like there is not communication between you and there are patterns of each person blaming the other. Does he, for example, know how you feel? Have you directly told him? Do you tell him you will not stand for him accusing you of cheating? Or do you set no boundaries at all and just accept all? Sometimes we become so trapped in ways of relating we don’t know how to escape. On one hand he might want to hurt you, but on the other hand, given that it seems you don’t set boundaries, it could be that he is ‘acting out’ because you do not respond. We simply don’t know as we can’t say much based on a comment. In summary, we would recommend couples counselling if you are not sure that this is or isn’t a relationship worth saving. Otherwise we’d recommend you seek individual counselling so you can learn to raise your self-esteem and set boundaries and have enough confidence to leave if that is in fact what you want. All the best.

My husband and I are in our early 󈨀s and we have been married for almost 6 years. He has been emotionally abusive the entire time, with it becoming worse as time goes on. He has many good qualities and we have a good deal in common, and before we married we had long serious discussions regarding how we hoped our marriage and life would be together. We seemed to be in agreement then, and seemed to have worked out compromises in other areas. I trusted him 120% and loved him with all my heart. I own a house also, but he had horses and tractors and things so logistically it was best for me to relocate and commute to work until retirement. Unfortunately, as soon as I moved and we were married, the controlling and angry behavior showed itself immediately. I very quickly learned living with him that he is very protective of his things and money, that he insists on being in control of most everything. He has a very quick temper, and the smallest thing can set off off a major explosion. To something as small as putting a piece of paper in the wrong garbage bin….. To asking questions during a discussion, or just something I’m curious about… Since asking questions to him means his authority and intelligence is being questioned, or is just simply an annoyance. He goes into rages to keep control, to keep me walking on eggshells waiting for the next blow up, which happens weekly at least. He has called me the most disgusting and vile names, he has ridiculed and is jealous of my close relationship with my family. He is not close to his family and did not seem to enjoy being a parent. He doesn’t understand that I can love and spend time with my kids and grandkids, and love him too. He has said I need to make a choice. He threatens divorce when he is in a mad rage, usually yelling and screaming that he will go get a lawyer the next day and rake me over the coals and make sure I end up with nothing. And usually in a day or two he is calm again and saysbut he doesn’t really want a divorce he doesn’t want to lose me, but that he is tired of the fighting. Unfortunately, I have learned to fight back over the years And I have behaved in ways that I am not proud of well defending myself against his tirades. He truly cannot see that his angry controlling hurtful behavior causes the fights.
Where we are right now is that I have told him that I will not tolerate one more nasty outburst, and I will not continue to live where I am treated with no respect, consideration, affection or kindness. He he has finally admitted that his behavior is abusive, that I don’t deserve that, and says that he wants to make changes. I’ve heard all that before with the exception of him admitting his behavior is abusive. He normally blames his behavior on me. He has an appointment with a therapist this week. The fact that he has on his own decided to do therapy is stunning because he always has said he doesn’t believe in counseling and absolutely would not do it. Unfortunately after some comments this morning he made, I still don’t feel that he is very committed to doing therapy. I feel that he will try to manipulate the therapy, and I am sure that he will only tell the therapist his version of the truth and minimize the verbal and emotional abuse he has been inflicting for the past almost 6 years. He seems to have the idea that he will go to this first visit and the counselor will determine whether he needs therapy or not. That worries me, and I feel that he isn’t really as committed as he is initially said he is. This therapist specializes with adult males, particularly adult males with anger and control issues. I wonder though, how Will he know the full view of what’s been going on here and what my husband does so that he can help him? I don’t believe that my husband will tell him. So how will he be helped? Should the therapist be interested in talking to me at all? I want to be supportive of him while he’s doing counseling, but I would also like the therapist to have the full story of the seriousness of what my husband does. If he isn’t helped and the controlling, angry nastiness continues, our marriage is definitely over. I love the man for his good qualities, but the verbal and emotional abuse is more than I can take. There won’t be any more chances and I will be moving on if there are not drastic changes made.

Hi KM. So what you are presenting here is your husband as the total problem and the total controller and you as the person just caught up in the sway. You mention rather quickly that perhaps your own behaviour is not something you are proud of but then veer back to blaming him for all. Also note how detailed this story is, as if this is something you have repeated many times before. So we’d reframe this. We are not undermining your suffering, which we are sure is very real and very painful. But in our experience of toxic relationships, unless one partner has narcissistic personality disorder (and it does not seem your partner does) are far, far more complex that ‘bad person/good person’. You are choosing this relationship, as an adult with total free choice. You are not even bound by economic issues by the sounds of it, which does sadly and even tragically keep some women in bad relationships. Rather you choose it, and there will be reasons for that, and it would be best if you go to therapy yourself to explore those reasons and to look at what is really keeping you stuck in this relationship, as if you were really not getting anything out of it we imagine you would have left long ago. Sometimes we are deeply addicted to the drama and the story. Other times we have deep rooted ideas of ‘love’ that keep us mistaking it for toxic imposters. Note that we can’t be a victim and have power at the same time. By framing yourself as the victim you throw your power out the window. To gain your power to decide whether to leave often involves accepting your responsibility for choosing the relationship and for what you are bringing to the drama. Also note that you call him controlling, but then seem to want to control his experience of therapy. It’s totally unethical and could lose a therapist his job to share what happens with a client with anyone else including a partner. In summary, you can’t control or change anyone else. Ever. The only person you can change is you, and a healthy relationship can only happen if we are with someone we can accept fully and unconditionally. So we’d say seek support to get to the root of this addictive drama and to make the right decision for your future.Good luck.

what do you do when your parent cuts you off from friendships behind your back, while trying to convince you that they are your best friend? my parent often brings up embarrassing stories of me in group settings, and talks about me behind my back to her friends. she jokes a lot that i have bad social skills because im homeschooled but she keeps taking away chances for me to improve those skills. any tips?

Hi Audrey, sounds like you are really wanting some independence in life. Do you have any other places to meet people, any sort of social groups outside of being homeschooled? Where you get to go without your mother? As we notice that you say she talks to her friends, not your friends. Is there any way you could talk to your mother about wanting to have some independence? She might not even realise she is doing this. The best way to approach this is when you feel very calm and after you have done your research. Don’t attack her or say ‘you did this/you did that’ which will only cause upset and a fight. Just explain how you feel and the outcome you would like. “I feel that I am not getting enough of a chance to develop my social skills and I’d like to get out and meet people in my age group. I’ve found this interest group/ class/ youth group I’d like to try”. Of course if your country is in lockdown this might not be possible. So you might have time to work up your courage.

So I’m engaged to a person I went to school with. He made/makes a huge difference in my life, defending/protecting me. I know that I have undiagnosed psychological issues, I’m aware of & can use all sorts of manipulation,& am super sensitive to empathy, & body language, yet choose to avoid it’s use as it isn’t a genuine/honest choice that someone makes. I know myself incredibly well.
I know my partner is a schizophrenic psychopathic unreadable person, that I am in an emotionally abusive relationship, that he has cheated on me & tells me never bring it up again, that he is controlling but I allow it (yet I am constantly depleted, have no time to look after myself, no finances, no friends, or family) I consider him my best friend, but he appears to be multiple people, to suit what he wants. He can be very scary & violent suggestively, without any factual cause. I know he’s not physically well, & had heart attack recently, & we have beloved pets that’s ultimately his.
I get a lot of subject switching, blame of everything but no acceptance of any himself. I am 44, & he’s few months younger. He is supposed to be taking some serious medication to make him not dangerous to others. Plus epileptic meds etc, with monthly psychiatric appointments. He won’t do any of these. Won’t take his medication for some reason he won’t explain/answer, & whenever I bring anything up, he blames it on me being a occasional drinker, suggests rest, time of the month, potential pregnancy, nagging, controlling, needy, or being wet, acting like a victim for sympathy.
I’ve read the stuff above about the excuses & I am aware of doing several 100% intentionally. I’m very resourceful & I’ve tried loads of methods of encouragement to communicate, listen, answer truthfully, be a friend, partner, & it’s all shot down. I can’t see the pets on the streets, & I’m kinda resigned to waiting till he dies to have a life & pets safely again.
Good chance I’m venting because it’s utterly exhausting & miserable doing everything for everyone. I believe I need to at the very least get my own diagnosis confirmed, yet my doctor won’t refer me, or take me seriously. Preferring to call it some kind of substance abuse related condition from the past, depression, alcohol related, or hypochondria (it feels he’s responding towards. It is very possible to be some relation to all those things, if I weren’t able to throw myself back to my exact childhood self, before any of that happened. Perhaps this may be of use to someone else, as all mental disorders require a psychiatrist & GP’s are unqualified to do anything but badly medicate physical disorders.
My GP told me there was a 2 year wait to see a psychiatrist & I he wasn’t sure if it was even necessary. I’ve done unbiased research & I need a professional diagnosis on me, let alone the partner. I have no money, no resources, & ridiculously little time to do anything for myself. I am open to all suggestions though, I can’t continue like this as I have nothing left to give, yet can not leave.


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Bittersweet symphony

Music is a complex phenomenon – it affects us in multiple ways, and is used for many purposes. While pleasure is a popular reason for music listening, we are also drawn to music for other reasons. Sometimes the music isn’t pleasant at all.

‘Pleasant’ is subjective, of course.

Our attraction, our need, and sometimes perhaps dependence on sad, angry or even frightening music flies in the face of evolutionary theory – why seek out something emotionally negative?

Insight into our uses of music is however being achieved via music psychology – a rapidly expanding field which draws on research across numerous domains including cognitive neuroscience, social psychology and affective computing (the science of human-computer interaction where the device can detect and respond to its user’s emotions).

In a study involving more than 1,000 people, Swedish music psychologist Alf Gabrielsson showed that only a little over half of strong experiences with music involve positive emotions.

Many involved “mixed emotions” (think nostalgic or bittersweet love songs), and about one in ten involve negative emotions.


9 Signs Your Partner Is Emotionally Draining You

Being tired from spending time with your partner is not a good feeling. But how do you know if you're being totally consumed by your relationship? What are the signs your partner is emotionally draining you? How do you know whether the exhaustion you are carrying all the time is related to your mate, or if you're just tuckered out in general? Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate feelings of being totally tapped out because of a job or life from the same feelings originating from a relationship.

As such, I posed these questions to a host of excellent relationship experts, who can tell one from the other and know when your partner is just straight-up emotionally draining you, and how you can tell. From feeling as though your boo is siphoning off all of your free energy to noticing that you're spending way too much time ruminating on what one expert calls "intrusive thoughts," there are some surefire signs of emotional drain via relationship.

1. You Can't Stop Thinking About Them

"Your partner might be draining you emotionally when you spend an unhealthy amount of time focused on intrusive thoughts," psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. She defines these as the types of thoughts that completely take over your airspace, as it were, at all hours of the day and night: "When you are thinking about what they are doing, who they are with, what they are doing with this person, or what the nature of this relationship is — this can be draining."

This isn't the fault of your partner, but an issue that you likely brought into the relationship from your past, which is good and bad. Good because it means you can work on it on your own, but also bad because it's all on you, and you'll take it where ere you go. If it's keeping you up at night, all the more reason to figure out how to stop. "If you are staying up to all hours of the night with racing thoughts and worries about your partner, this is definitely draining," Martinez says. For real!

2. You're Tired All The Time

"We are all energy. Our hearts beat because of energy, our brains function because of energetic impulses," zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. "Our cells are filled with energy. When we don't feel well, we feel tired. When we feel alive, we feel energized." This extends to your personal relationships. "When your partner makes you feel more like you have a cold or flu, rather than on top of the world, they are draining you emotionally."

But just because you feel under the weather when you're with someone a lot does not mean you need to break up with them. "It simply means you are perhaps giving too much it may not even be them," she says. Though it's easy to point fingers, the call may be coming from inside the house, as it were.

"I urge clients to pull back when they feel this. You are in charge of your own energy," she says. Regardless of who is responsible, the answer is to go inward and take some time to figure out what you need. "If they are draining you, first look at you, then look at them," she says. "This is very fixable. If it is you, pull back. If it is them, pull back. Your energy is yours, and can't be given or stolen unless you hand over the power to someone else." Truth.

3. You Can't Wait For A Solo Weekend

"You’re relieved that you have a weekend alone," New-York-based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "When you’re spending more of your energy that you want to on your partner and his [or her] needs, a break is going to seem like much more than a break." Though we all need alone time, this extreme feeling of looking forward to having solo time is a flag.

"It’s going to seem like a cause for fireworks, champagne corks popping, and a loud 'Whoopee!'" she says. "If you’re all that excited to have a weekend alone, consider that the reason for your joy is that they're draining you when they're around." Not a good sign. "You should be happy to have a break, but not that happy." If you don't miss your partner when they're gone, then it might be time to give the whole thing some thought.

4. Your Partner Is Not Boosting You Emotionally

It may sound anticlimactic, but the fastest way to tell whether you're getting sapped by your partner is to just tune into the way you feel when you're together. "Particularly in an established relationship, we are prone to simply go through the motions without reflecting on how we feel moment to moment," marriage and family therapist and relationship expert Esther Boykin tells Bustle. "However, it is in the small moments, like when they text you or as you're getting ready to go out together, that you will find the most telling signs of how your partner is affecting you emotionally."

She continues: "Over time, Friday night date night may become routine, and no longer elicit the same butterflies of excitement — but does it make you feel tired and disinterested? Do you put off responding to their texts and phone calls, or avoid doing activities alone with them? The small responses to your partner's bids for attention are indicative of how they are impacting your emotional well-being. It is in these easily overlooked reactions that you will find the most accurate clues to whether or not your partner is boosting or draining your emotional life." If you feel drained, trust it, and talk to your partner about it.

5. You Have To Recover After You See Each Other

"You are with an emotional vampire if you find yourself physically drained," psychologist, image consultant and dating expert Dr. Jennifer Rhodes tells Bustle. "Emotionally sensitive people and empaths often do not pick up on these cues right away." If you've just had a date, and now you feel flat-out exhausted, give it some thought. "[When] you are usually able to get through your day, and now need to spend the entire weekend recovering, it may be worth exploring who is sucking up your energy." If signs point to your partner, it's time to make a change.

6. You Feel As Though They Always Ask Too Much

"If you are emotionally overwhelmed by the requests of your partner, you have the feeling — 'Now it’s too much,'" Salama Marine, psychologist and online dating expert for dating website EliteSingles, tells Bustle. "It’s not about your partner’s behavior, but more about how you feel about it." In other words, one person's crazy is another person's normal, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all emotionally draining behavior. Rather, it's all about how you feel about the needs of your boo. "Everybody has their own limit," Marine reminds. If you are constantly hitting your breaking point, you're being emotionally drained.

7. Conversations Exhaust You

"A sure sign that your partner is draining you emotionally is a feeling of fatigue that washes over you whenever you get into a conversation with them," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. "This may start as a tired feeling and then progress into quick-tempered annoyance at things that you would previously never have thought twice about." In other words, you may just feel tired out at first, but, slowly but surely, little things will start bothering you.

"Have you ever argued with someone and they end it abruptly by just saying the word 'whatever' and walking away?" he asks. If so, you may be dealing with someone who is very emotionally draining.

8. You Feel As Though You're Walking On Eggshells

"If you feel like sharing your own feelings or relying on your partner emotionally will rock the boat, chances are you feel emotionally drained," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "You never want to feel like someone's counselor, but that line can be blurred when there isn't a 50/50 split on emotional sharing." We all need to be able to lean on our partners from time to time. "If you feel like relying on them in the slightest bit will cause an implosion, it's best to reevaluate the stability of your relationship," she says. Though you can't rely on your partner for everything, in times of need, they need to be able to be there for you.

9. You're Not Getting Your Needs Met

"If they refuse to listen to you and communicate by arguing to get their way, you will feel drained, and that your needs aren't getting met," Stefanie Safran, Chicago's "Introductionista" and founder of Stef and the City, tells Bustle. "If you feel that most of the relationship is you listening and they are not, reconsider if this relationship is worth it," she says. Relationships must be a give and take situation, and if it doesn't feel that way for you, you'll feel exhausted from your partner all the time.

Images: Fotolia Giphy (9)

Happy shopping! FYI, Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which were added independently from Bustle's sales and editorial departments after publication.


The Impact of Music on Emotion: Comparing Rap and Meditative Yoga Music

Music has accompanied major social events throughout the history of mankind. Major gatherings such as weddings, graduations, or birthdays are usually recognized by a familiar tune. There is evidence that music plays a large role in emotional processes within the brain. An individual&rsquos emotional state of mind can directly impact daily cognition and behavior. Studies have shown that music has the ability to regulate a wide range of both positive and negative emotions. This study was conducted to determine the degree of music&rsquos influence on aggression using two extremes of genre: relaxing yoga music versus aggressive rap music. It was expected that those who listened to yoga music would show lower aggression, while those who listened to rap music would have higher aggression. Results demonstrated that listeners of the aggressive rap music scored significantly higher in the dimension of verbal aggression. These findings suggest that aggressive music can make listeners more aggressive emotionally compared to other types of music.

The relationship between man and music is a complex one. The ancient Greco-Roman culture believed music penetrated both the body and mind, bringing them into equilibrium. In contrast, Europeans of the late 18 th century Romantic Era perceived music as a double-edged sword, capable of both curing and causing disorders (Rose & Bartsch, 2009). It is possible that these societies believed music possessed &ldquomagical&rdquo properties due to its unexplainable yet observable influence on behavior.

The brain seems to have a natural reaction to music, causing listeners to tap their toes, sing aloud, and dance around. However &ldquomagical&rdquo it may seem, there are clear connections between music, the mind, and behavior. In fact, utilizing the latest in neuroimaging technology, researchers are able to observe how the brain processes auditory information when under the influences of music. Parts of the brain that show an increased activity include areas such as the hypothalamus, responsible for maintaining stress hormones, and the hippocampus, the area vital for emotion regulation (Levitin, 2006).

In a PET scan study by Blood and Zatorre (2001), readings indicated that music triggers the same neural processes that govern the brain&rsquos ability to produce feelings of euphoria that are commonly associated with food, sex, and drugs. Blood and Zatorre also noted activations in structures of the brain related to attention and wakefulness when listening to music. The brain is able to convert musical auditory information into stimulation of neural components that are usually associated with emotion, attention, and feelings of euphoria. Based on these findings, what was once thought of as music&rsquos &ldquomagical&rdquo properties can now be understood as real activations within structures of the brain.

As styles of music evolved, so did the understanding of how certain melodies affect the mind. Evidence now suggests listening to music has the potential to stabilize the human psyche by eliciting a wide range both negative and positive emotions. For example, pleasant or relaxing sounds may have the capacity to benefit health by reducing levels of stress. High states of stress can destabilize the human psyche, causing disorders such as illnesses, insomnia, depression, or anxiety.

According to research by Bronnimann, Ehlert, Finkel, Marca, Nater, and Thoma (2013), the action of listening to relaxing music aids in stress-related recovery. Participants in this experiment consisted of 60 healthy females between the ages of 20 to 30. The study first exposed a psychological stressor to the participants that triggered their body&rsquos stress response. Subjects were then randomly assigned to one of three condition groups following exposure to stressor: (1) the experimental group listened to relaxing music, (2) control group listened to ambient nature sounds, and (3) another control group experienced no acoustic stimuli. Physiological states that react to stress, such as changes in salivary cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase, heart rate, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia, were monitored to determine music&rsquos recovery effects.

It was discovered that the music group showed considerable improvements in autonomic recovery (Bronnimann et al., 2011). In other words, physiological states of high heart rate and abnormal respiratory arrhythmia cycles which are aggravated by emotions of stress were restored to normal levels at a faster rate for the music groups. It is also interesting to note that the group who listened to ambient nature sounds was most effective in respiratory sinus arrhythmia recovery when compared to the music group.

Bronnimann et al. (2011) suggested that the human&rsquos subconscious desire to be one with nature may have explained why nature sounds was most effective in bringing individuals to a recovered state after exposure to stressor. This research suggests music&rsquos potential to relieve everyday stressors. Moreover, it is possible that individuals associated ambient nature sounds with perceptions of tranquility and relaxation, and these perceptions may have mitigated aggravated states of stress. Thus, mindfulness of relaxing music helped to stabilize the human psyche.

Another possible explanation for music&rsquos effect on behavior is that listening to music does real changes to the body&rsquos physiological states. Vaajoki, Kankkunen, Pietila, and Vehvilainen-Julkunen (2011) studied music&rsquos effect on physiological recovery of post-operation abdominal surgery patients. Vaajoki et al. measured the patients&rsquo respiratory rate, heart rate, and blood pressure on operation day, followed by the next three days.

Results indicated that musical intervention lowered blood pressure significantly more in the music group compared to the control group. In regards to long-term effects, the music group also demonstrated significantly better respiratory recovery. Vaajoki et al. suggests that participants slowed their breath rate by matching their breathing with slower songs, which effectively improved their respiratory systems. Whether it was voluntary or involuntary, the human body has a tendency to sync with music.

If music has such a great influence on physiological states as Vaajoki suggests, it is possible that songs with faster tempos and aggressive themes can lead to higher respiratory rates, potentially increasing blood flow and heart rate, and possibly leading to exasperated behaviors. While relaxing music may calm the listener, other genres of music, such as faster tempo punk music or heavy metal rock depicting violence and death, may counteractively promote negative emotions and exasperate behaviors.

Music has a unique influence on the human psyche because of its connection with emotional processes

Music has a unique influence on the human psyche because of its connection with emotional processes. Ehlert, Mohiyeddini, Nater, Ryf, and Thoma (2012) conducted a study to explore this link between music and emotional perceptions. Volunteers were introduced to 16 everyday hypothetical situations that inspired a large range of emotions. These situations, such as &ldquotraffic jam&rdquo and &ldquogoing to a party,&rdquo involved highly positive and highly negative emotional states. Individuals were instructed to visualize themselves in these emotional everyday situations, as if they were experiencing the events firsthand.

Afterwards, participants listened to 20 different styles of songs and were instructed to choose one song they preferred to listen to during the immersion of the hypothetical scenarios. Results indicated that there was a strong correlation between the type of emotion and the preferred style of music. In general, style of songs mirrored the type of emotion in the imagined environment. It appeared that listeners connected certain music to certain emotions (Ehlert et al., 2012). For example, fast paced aggressive songs in minor chords were preferred when participants immersed themselves in high negative emotional events, such as &ldquodispute with partner&rdquo or &ldquofailed lecture.&rdquo

In contrast, the high positive emotional events, such as &ldquoromantic dinner&rdquo or &ldquocozy Sunday,&rdquo were commonly matched with softer songs in major chords. In this study, participants had a tendency to choose music connected to the perception of their imagined emotions. In other words, the brain finds ways to connect emotional meaning with auditory stimuli.

Since numerous styles of music exist today, it is possible to assume that aggressive music can provoke aggressive behaviors. However, Frith (2008) suggested that music might not necessarily make the listener more hostile, but rather make the listener excited about the thought of being in a negative emotional state. Thus, music genres that are associated with negative themes may influence the mind to perceive aggressive emotions as an entertaining stimulation, rather than cause an observable change in behavior.

Though Frith argues that music may not make listeners more aggressive, it is possible that high arousal from music stimulation mixed with aggressive verbal lyrics can induce actual aggressive behaviors for avid listeners of the more &ldquohardcore&rdquo genres. Mast and McAndrew (2011) explored this very hypothesis by conducting a study involving the potential relationship between the violent lyrics of heavy metal rock and behavioral aggression. In this experiment, 35 male college students in an undergraduate psychology program were used in the sample. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (1) a group that listened to heavy metal with intense violent lyrics for eight minutes, (2) a group that listened to heavy metal with non-violent lyrics for eight minutes, and (3) a control group that sat quietly in a room.

Afterwards, individuals were given a cup of water and bottle of hot sauce and were instructed to prepare a taste beverage for the next participant. Subjects had the freedom to determine any amount of hot sauce. Results showed that the violent lyrics group added significantly more hot sauce than the other two groups. According to Mast and McAndrew (2011), violent lyrics played a significant role in encouraging aggressive behaviors in the participants. This study suggests a likely link between aggressive genres and aggressive behaviors, possibly due to negative lyrical perceptions and language depicting anger and hostility. Similar areas of the brain that are activated during comprehension of emotions and language in the temporal lobe are also activated when listening to music (Besson, Chobert, and Marie, 2011).

Since auditory information of lyrics is translated in the language area of the brain, an area also activated by emotional processes, language from lyrics may give listeners perceptions of emotion. In the study by Mast et al. (2011), it is possible that aggressive lyrics provoked aggressive emotions, leading to more aggressive behaviors. Other musical attributes, such as the type of chord, tempo, or volume may have influenced aggression as well. Songs played in a minor key harmonic have a tendency give listeners perceptions of unsettling emotions such as sadness or anger (Levitin, 2006).

Since the PET scans by Blood and Zatorre (2001) demonstrated how music, food, sex, and drugs all share the same reward-based neural operations that govern feelings of euphoria, perhaps in the future it would be possible to use music as a means to regulate and improve a patient&rsquos emotional processes instead of resorting to medication. Music may prove to be a healthy therapeutic alternative.

With that goal in mind, the purpose of this current study was to determine the degree of music&rsquos influence on changes in emotion, specifically in the domains of aggression using two extremes of audio categories, relaxing yoga music and aggressive rap music. It was first hypothesized that the yoga music group will have lower aggression levels due to associations with perceptions of positive emotions and relaxation. The second hypothesis was that violent music will increase aggression among listeners due to the presence of aggressive lyrics and perceptions of negative emotions. In sum, it was expected that those who listened to yoga music will score lower in overall aggression, those who listened to rap music will score higher in aggression, and those who did not listen to music would fall in the median.

Methodology

Participants

75 volunteers were used for this study. The sample consisted of college students over the age of 18 at the college campus located at the Universities at Shady Grove. The experiment took place in a classroom setting. The students received extra course credit for their participation.

Materials

The Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (Buss & Perry, 1992) was used to monitor aggression among the participants. The Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire is a self-report consisting of 29 aggression related statements. The self-report instructed participants to rate how accurate the 29 items represented themselves on a 1 to 5 scale ex. &ldquo1: extremely uncharacteristic of me&rdquo to &ldquo5: extremely characteristic of me.&rdquo

The questionnaire measured four dimensions of aggression: physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger, and hostility. The domains of physical aggression and hostility were used to determine behavioral aggression while verbal aggression and anger corresponded to emotional aggression. Results are calculated on a scale of 0 to 1.

In order for music to be played continuously during examination, two aggressive songs and one longer relaxing song were used. Based on the violent lyrics study by Mast et al. (2011), the songs &ldquoAndrei the Pit Arlovski&rdquo (Freddy Madball & Jaysaun, 2011) and &ldquoReady for War&rdquo (50 cent, 2009) were chosen for their aggressive lyrics depicting violence, harsh language, and high musical stimulation from a fast tempo. Similar to the study by Bronnimann et al. (2011) which demonstrated that nature sounds helped to further alleviate stress, &ldquoShadows of White&rdquo (Liquid Mind, 1995), the yoga song, was chosen for its gentle nature sounds to promote perceptions of relaxation.

Procedure

Prior to administration of the questionnaire, participants were asked to close their eyes and listen to the selection of music for a minute. This allowed listeners to give full attention to the songs being played. Control group did not listen to anything and took the questionnaire immediately. After one minute of acoustic exposure, subjects were instructed to complete the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (1992) while the selected genre of music continued to play in the background.

Music variables were manipulated in three levels, (1) yoga/relaxing music, (2) no music, and (3) rap/aggressive music. Group one listened to &ldquoShadows of White&rdquo (Liquid Mind, 1995). Group two had no acoustic stimulus and completed the questionnaire in silence. Group three listened to both &ldquoAndrei the Pit Arlovski&rdquo (Freddy Madball & Jaysaun, 2011) and &ldquoReady for War&rdquo (50 cent, 2009). Answers were entered into the Buss &Perry (1992) online tool for scoring (Available at http://psychology-tools.com/buss-perry-aggression-questionnaire).

Results

Two extremes of music genres were used to determine music&rsquos influence on aggression. A total of 75 participants (25 per group) were randomly assigned to one of three levels of acoustic stimuli (1) yoga/relaxing music, (2) control/no music, and (3) aggressive/rap music.

The Buss-Perry questionnaire was used to assess four levels of aggression, (1) physical aggression, (2) verbal aggression, (3) hostility, and (4) anger. An ANOVA and post &ndashhoc analysis (with Tukey&rsquos correction) was used to analyze the three levels of the independent variables (music stimuli) with the dependent variables (dimensions of aggression). An alpha level of p < .05 was used for all analyses.

Using a one-way ANOVA and post &ndashhoc analysis (with Tukey&rsquos correction), results indicated a significant difference among groups in verbal aggression, F (2, 72) =3.45, p < .05. Post-hoc analysis indicated that participants in the &ldquorap group&rdquo scored significantly higher in the dimension of verbal aggression (M =.56, SD=.23) when compared to the &ldquono music&rdquo group (M = .42 SD = .19).

The differences in verbal aggression between yoga group (M = .45, SD=.19) and no music (M = .42, SD=.19), and yoga group (M = .45, SD=.19) and rap group (M =.56, SD = .23) were not enough to be significant.

A one-way ANOVA and post &ndashhoc analysis (with Tukey&rsquos correction) indicated that the three groups did not demonstrate significant differences in physical aggression F (2, 72) =1.844, p > .05, anger F (2, 72) =1.710, p > .05, or hostility F (2, 72) =1.824, p > .05. Thus, no post-hoc analyses were conducted for the other three domains of aggression within groups.

Discussion

Overall, this present study was conducted to explore the effects of two extremes of music genres on emotional aggression and behavioral aggression among listeners. It was originally hypothesized that the group listening to relaxing yoga music would result in lower reported aggressions. Results indicated that the first hypothesis was not supported in this case due to no noticeable differences in reported aggression between the yoga group and the control group.

However, the data supported the second hypothesis aggressive music significantly increased a domain of aggression for the listeners in the rap group compared to the control. It is vital to note that music increased aggression only in the domains of verbal aggression. Neither the yoga nor control group had lyrical influences, so it is possible that the presence of violent lyrics in the rap group played a major factor in the differences of verbal aggression. Similar to the study by Mast and McAndrew (2011), the violent lyrics may have played a key role in participants exhibiting some form of aggression.

There was also a notable difference in verbal aggression between the rap group and yoga group, but not enough to be significant. Participants in the rap group also scored slightly higher in the domains of physical aggression and anger when compared to the other two groups, but the difference again was not enough to be significant.

Evidence from this study indicates that music may have some effect on emotion, depending on the genre. It is probable that the rap group rated themselves as more aggressive due aggressive lyrics, which activated similar areas in the brain that govern emotional and lingual processes (Besson, Chobert, and Marie, 2011). Music&rsquos activation of aggressive emotions may instigate aggressive perceptions and behaviors. Since Frith (2008) suggests music only provides listeners with an enjoyable perception of aggression in an artistic aspect, rather than inducing actual aggressive behavior, the Buss-Perry Questionnaire was used to isolate four types of aggression in two categories emotional aggression (anger and verbal aggression) and behavioral aggression (physical aggression and hostility).

Aggressive music led to a change in emotional aggression (assuming verbal aggression as a form of emotional aggression), rather than a change in behavioral aggression between the rap group and control. In contrast to Mast and McAndrew&rsquos (2011) observations where violent lyrics made listeners behave more aggressively, Frith&rsquos idea holds true in this present study since, there was no observable change in behavior. Since there was only an increase in the domain of verbal aggression for the rap group compared to the control, it is safe to suggest aggressive lyrics can make listeners more emotionally aggressive.

Music&rsquos activation of aggressive emotions may instigate aggressive perceptions and behaviors

For example, an avid listener of aggressive lyrics may not necessarily be more inclined to harm another person, but may have more of a tendency to utilize aggressive language. The idea that violent music can lead to change in aggressive behaviors is still debatable.

Attentional and memory cues may also have played a role in this study. When listening to music, fMRI scans show increased activity in the hippocampus (Levitin, 2006). The hippocampus is the area of the brain that is responsible for emotion regulation, memory retrieval, and behavior inhibitions. The neural processes that involve memory recall and emotional consolidation are closely tied together. Blood and Zatorre (2001) also noted similar activations in structures related to attention.

The survey often contained questions regarding the participant&rsquos past actions and behaviors. The presence of aggressive music might have directed attention towards aggressive emotions, leading to more vivid perceptions of aggressive memories. Similar to the study by Ehlert et al. (2012), where participants had a habit of matching music with emotions, subjects may have rated themselves to be more aggressive because of musical perceptions of aggression that cued aggressive emotions and memory.

it is possible that the rap group scored highest in verbal aggression for the following reasons: (1) aggressive music can stimulate listeners on a physiological level, increasing respiratory rate, blood pressure, and heart rate, possibly leading to a more unstable psyche, (2) listeners associated negative musical connotations, such as fast tempos and minor harmonic chords, with negative emotions, focusing their attention towards aggressive emotions and memory, or (3) exposure to aggressive lyrics led to activation of neural processes that consolidate perceptions of aggressive language and emotions.

The self-report method used to analyze aggression levels of participants was a limitation of this study. Generally, self-reports are not reliable in measuring aggression compared to other means. Completing a questionnaire in a social classroom setting instead of a real world setting may have also influenced the results. Future studies may want to benefit by utilizing other methods including physiological or behavioral observations when comparing music and emotion. Another limitation of this study was the narrow scope of demographics. The sample used in this study consisted of a convenient sample of younger college students. Expanding the study to other demographics with diverse tastes in music may yield different results.

it is still unclear whether music has a direct impact on emotional processes however, evidence from this present study suggests a strong relationship between listening to aggressive music and verbal aggression. It seems that the ancient Greco-Roman and European Romantic view of music was not too far off what was once thought as &ldquomagical&rdquo can now be understood as real changes on a psychological and physiological level. It appears that music does have the ability to aid and disrupt in the stabilization of the human psyche.

Research by Bronnimann et al. (2013) and Vaajoki et al. (2011) demonstrated how relaxing music can have profound effects on health, aiding in several physiological recoveries. On the other hand, results from the study by Mast et al. (2011) and this current study suggest that aggressive music can increase certain forms of aggression. The human psyche has a unique ability to synchronize external audio stimuli from music with certain emotions.

Future research may want to further explore this connection between emotions and music the same concepts that was once perceived as &ldquomagical.&rdquo Perhaps one day it would be possible to use music to regulate moods instead of resorting to drugs. Based on these studies, it is clear that music has a very unique effect on the body and mind. This connection should go on to be a continuous and intriguing research topic among scholars and scientists in the future.

References

Besson, M., Chobert, J., & Marie, C. (2011). Language and music in the musician brain. Language

and Linguistics Compass, 5, 617-634. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-818x2011.00302.x Blood, A.J., & Zatorre, R.J. (2001). Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion. The National Academy of Sciences, 98, 11818-11823. doi: 10.1073/pnas.191355898

Bronnimann, R., Ehlert, U., Finkel, L., Marca, M.V., Nater, U.M, R.L., & Thoma, M.V. (2013).

The Effect of music on the human stress response. PLoS ONE, 8, e70156. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070156

Brown, S. (2000). The &lsquoMusilanguage&rsquo model of music evolution. The Origins of Music, 271-301.

Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. P. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 452-459

Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. P. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Retrieved from http://psychology-tools.com/buss-perry-aggression-questionnaire/

Ehlert, U., Mohiyeddini, C., Nater, U.M., Ryf, S., & Thoma M.V. (2012). Emotion regulation through listening to music in everyday situations. Cognition & Emotion, 26, 550-560. doi:10.1080/02699931.2011.595390

Frith, S. (2008). Why does music make people so cross? Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 13, 64-69.doi: 10.1080/08098130409478098

Gebauer, L., & Kringelbach, M.L. (2012). Ever-changing cycles of music pleasure: The role of dopamine and anticipation. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 22, 152-167. doi: 10.1037/a0031126

Lazarus, R. S. (1999). Stress and emotion. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Levitin, D.J. (2006). This is your brain on music: The science of a human obsession. New York: Penguin Group.

Mast, F. J., McAndrew T. F. (2011) Violent lyrics in heavy music can increase aggression in males. North American Journal of Psychology, 13, 63-64.

Rose, J. P., & Bartsch, H. H. (2009). Music as therapy. Medicine and Music, 70, 5&ndash8.

Vaajoki, A., Kankkunen, P., Pietila, A., & Vehvilainen-Julkunen, K. (2011). Music as nursing invention: Effects of music on blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate in abdominal surgery patients. Nursing and Health Sciences, 13, 412-418. doi: 10.111/j.1442-2018.2011.00633.x

Yehuda, N. (2011). Music and stress. Journal of Adult Development, 18, 85-97. doi: 10.1007/s10804-010-9117-4

Besson, M., Chobert, J., & Marie, C. (2011). Language and music in the musician brain. Language

and Linguistics Compass, 5, 617-634. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-818x2011.00302.x Blood, A.J., & Zatorre, R.J. (2001). Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion. The National Academy of Sciences, 98, 11818-11823. doi: 10.1073/pnas.191355898

Bronnimann, R., Ehlert, U., Finkel, L., Marca, M.V., Nater, U.M, R.L., & Thoma, M.V. (2013).

The Effect of music on the human stress response. PLoS ONE, 8, e70156. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070156

Brown, S. (2000). The &lsquoMusilanguage&rsquo model of music evolution. The Origins of Music, 271-301.

Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. P. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 452-459

Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. P. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Retrieved from http://psychology-tools.com/buss-perry-aggression-questionnaire/

Ehlert, U., Mohiyeddini, C., Nater, U.M., Ryf, S., & Thoma M.V. (2012). Emotion regulation through listening to music in everyday situations. Cognition & Emotion, 26, 550-560. doi:10.1080/02699931.2011.595390

Frith, S. (2008). Why does music make people so cross? Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 13, 64-69.doi: 10.1080/08098130409478098

Gebauer, L., & Kringelbach, M.L. (2012). Ever-changing cycles of music pleasure: The role of dopamine and anticipation. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 22, 152-167. doi: 10.1037/a0031126

Lazarus, R. S. (1999). Stress and emotion. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Levitin, D.J. (2006). This is your brain on music: The science of a human obsession. New York: Penguin Group.

Mast, F. J., McAndrew T. F. (2011) Violent lyrics in heavy music can increase aggression in males. North American Journal of Psychology, 13, 63-64.

Rose, J. P., & Bartsch, H. H. (2009). Music as therapy. Medicine and Music, 70, 5&ndash8.

Vaajoki, A., Kankkunen, P., Pietila, A., & Vehvilainen-Julkunen, K. (2011). Music as nursing invention: Effects of music on blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate in abdominal surgery patients. Nursing and Health Sciences, 13, 412-418. doi: 10.111/j.1442-2018.2011.00633.x

Yehuda, N. (2011). Music and stress. Journal of Adult Development, 18, 85-97. doi: 10.1007/s10804-010-9117-4

Save Citation » (Works with EndNote, ProCite, & Reference Manager)


You get annoyed by even the smallest things. You only see negativity around you and you constantly feel irritated. You lose your temper over insignificant matters. You are highly sensitive to the negativity surrounding you and it makes you feel hopeless.

Lately, you feel like you have lost faith in life. Nothing seems to motivate you to make an effort to live better. You don’t have the will to get things done and you constantly struggle to find the necessary motivation.


Is Your Partner Abusive?

According to Benton, one important distinction to make is that in healthy relationships, disagreements are seen as an opportunity for growth—and both people make an effort to find common ground.

"It's not that people in healthy relationships don't have disagreements they do. They have just as many as people in bad relationships," Benton says. "The difference is what they do with those conflicts."

While it can be difficult to discern, she notes that mind games are common in emotionally-abusive relationships. One partner may be surprised by the other's sudden pleasant mood, or confused by bouts of unexpected love. "You know you can't trust it, because they're going to go back to being demeaning and belittling…You're constantly on this emotional roller coaster with them," Benton says.

Some partners can learn to overcome their abusive tendencies—but Benton notes that it's much easier to do with an impartial third party like a relationship counselor. Nevertheless, she points out that many relationships are simply unhealthy: "If you love someone, you don't treat them like that, ever. Period."


Breakups Suck. But For Some Couples Isolated Together, It's The Only Option.

Adversity has a way of making or breaking relationships, highlighting problems, and pushing couples to their limits. Now, imagine adding the pressure of being unable to walk away from someone while your relationship is under duress, or taking the space you need to think through your conflict. If you're considering breaking up with your partner while social distancing, isolation may have lead to the realization that you and your SO are not in it for the long-haul. And you'd rather end the relationship than spend one more second listening to each other chew, even if you're currently stuck together.

Karla, 26, tells Bustle that social distancing took her relationship from casual to serious overnight, and it ended up being a dealbreaker. "Everything was great — we were going on day trips and playing board games and meeting each other's friends," she says. "Then, all of a sudden, coronavirus anxiety began, and we went from getting to know each other to date."

While self-isolating as a unit sounded like a good idea at first, Karla quickly realized she wasn't ready for a live-in partner. Instead of enjoying their company, she felt overwhelmed and annoyed, craving privacy. "It was so much so fast," she says, "and after a couple days of cohabitation, I couldn't stand him."

Eventually, she decided to call things off, and the two parted ways. "Had this not happened, we would've still been getting to know each other and having our distance while still enjoying each other's company," Karla says. "There's a time and place for everything, and this just came far too soon for such a young relationship."

Outside of a global pandemic, any number of drastic changes to your everyday routine has the potential to become a relationship stressor — starting a new job, moving to a new place, adjusting to a new schedule. When you're already negotiating the chaos of an overwhelming shift in your day-to-day life, small problems can feel like big ones.

"As people #flattenthecurve, we may be forced to spend considerably more time with each other," Danni Zhang, psychologist and managing director of New Vision Psychology, previously told Bustle. "It's not uncommon for one person in a relationship to start thinking of getting out of said relationship." Zhang emphasizes the importance of weighing whether you're experiencing a dead-end or weathering temporary stress.

"Coronavirus has run the gamut of emotions in our relationship over the last couple of weeks," Danielle, 33, tells Bustle. She and her husband of five years made it halfway through the second week of social distancing together, before they needed to establish a few quarantine rules in order to keep the peace.

The two made an agreement that, at least once a week, they'd part ways and enjoy a little alone time — relaxing in separate rooms, going for solo walks, and cooking alone for a much-needed respite. "Communicating how we are feeling without judgment has also been very important," Danielle says. "Even though we are together, having time and space of our own is necessary, and allows that time together to be more valued."

For couples on edge, Zhang suggests listing out the reasons why you love your partner in order to shift attention away from their habits that have got you on edge. But not all couples feel the investment is worth digging in their heels. Once they got a glimpse into their future together, they were ready to jump ship — even if that only meant moving from the bedroom to the couch.

"I'm fairly certain living together too soon was what pushed us to break up," Karla says.

Danni Zhang, psychologist and managing director of New Vision Psychology


It’s important to remember that helping loved ones, friends, or even co-workers express themselves effectively takes time – and a come knowledge about how our early Attachment wounds impact our adult relationships.

Here are a few tips:

  • Be present and remember that their Avoidance likely has little to do with you.
  • Provide a safe space and remind them that you are available.
  • Keep your promise be available.
  • Put your judgment in the backseat.
  • Actively listen.
  • Provide abundant reassurance.

While no universal recipe exists, seeking advice and counsel from someone with Attachment experience can help.


Is Your Partner Abusive?

According to Benton, one important distinction to make is that in healthy relationships, disagreements are seen as an opportunity for growth—and both people make an effort to find common ground.

"It's not that people in healthy relationships don't have disagreements they do. They have just as many as people in bad relationships," Benton says. "The difference is what they do with those conflicts."

While it can be difficult to discern, she notes that mind games are common in emotionally-abusive relationships. One partner may be surprised by the other's sudden pleasant mood, or confused by bouts of unexpected love. "You know you can't trust it, because they're going to go back to being demeaning and belittling…You're constantly on this emotional roller coaster with them," Benton says.

Some partners can learn to overcome their abusive tendencies—but Benton notes that it's much easier to do with an impartial third party like a relationship counselor. Nevertheless, she points out that many relationships are simply unhealthy: "If you love someone, you don't treat them like that, ever. Period."


Middle Class Dad is owned and operated by Jeff Campbell/Middle Class Dad. Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Middle Class Dad also participates in affiliate programs with Siteground, CJ, ShareASale, and other sites. As a BetterHelp affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided. Middle Class Dad is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies, but in no way increases the cost to you if you opt to make a purchase from my links.

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Bittersweet symphony

Music is a complex phenomenon – it affects us in multiple ways, and is used for many purposes. While pleasure is a popular reason for music listening, we are also drawn to music for other reasons. Sometimes the music isn’t pleasant at all.

‘Pleasant’ is subjective, of course.

Our attraction, our need, and sometimes perhaps dependence on sad, angry or even frightening music flies in the face of evolutionary theory – why seek out something emotionally negative?

Insight into our uses of music is however being achieved via music psychology – a rapidly expanding field which draws on research across numerous domains including cognitive neuroscience, social psychology and affective computing (the science of human-computer interaction where the device can detect and respond to its user’s emotions).

In a study involving more than 1,000 people, Swedish music psychologist Alf Gabrielsson showed that only a little over half of strong experiences with music involve positive emotions.

Many involved “mixed emotions” (think nostalgic or bittersweet love songs), and about one in ten involve negative emotions.


Breakups Suck. But For Some Couples Isolated Together, It's The Only Option.

Adversity has a way of making or breaking relationships, highlighting problems, and pushing couples to their limits. Now, imagine adding the pressure of being unable to walk away from someone while your relationship is under duress, or taking the space you need to think through your conflict. If you're considering breaking up with your partner while social distancing, isolation may have lead to the realization that you and your SO are not in it for the long-haul. And you'd rather end the relationship than spend one more second listening to each other chew, even if you're currently stuck together.

Karla, 26, tells Bustle that social distancing took her relationship from casual to serious overnight, and it ended up being a dealbreaker. "Everything was great — we were going on day trips and playing board games and meeting each other's friends," she says. "Then, all of a sudden, coronavirus anxiety began, and we went from getting to know each other to date."

While self-isolating as a unit sounded like a good idea at first, Karla quickly realized she wasn't ready for a live-in partner. Instead of enjoying their company, she felt overwhelmed and annoyed, craving privacy. "It was so much so fast," she says, "and after a couple days of cohabitation, I couldn't stand him."

Eventually, she decided to call things off, and the two parted ways. "Had this not happened, we would've still been getting to know each other and having our distance while still enjoying each other's company," Karla says. "There's a time and place for everything, and this just came far too soon for such a young relationship."

Outside of a global pandemic, any number of drastic changes to your everyday routine has the potential to become a relationship stressor — starting a new job, moving to a new place, adjusting to a new schedule. When you're already negotiating the chaos of an overwhelming shift in your day-to-day life, small problems can feel like big ones.

"As people #flattenthecurve, we may be forced to spend considerably more time with each other," Danni Zhang, psychologist and managing director of New Vision Psychology, previously told Bustle. "It's not uncommon for one person in a relationship to start thinking of getting out of said relationship." Zhang emphasizes the importance of weighing whether you're experiencing a dead-end or weathering temporary stress.

"Coronavirus has run the gamut of emotions in our relationship over the last couple of weeks," Danielle, 33, tells Bustle. She and her husband of five years made it halfway through the second week of social distancing together, before they needed to establish a few quarantine rules in order to keep the peace.

The two made an agreement that, at least once a week, they'd part ways and enjoy a little alone time — relaxing in separate rooms, going for solo walks, and cooking alone for a much-needed respite. "Communicating how we are feeling without judgment has also been very important," Danielle says. "Even though we are together, having time and space of our own is necessary, and allows that time together to be more valued."

For couples on edge, Zhang suggests listing out the reasons why you love your partner in order to shift attention away from their habits that have got you on edge. But not all couples feel the investment is worth digging in their heels. Once they got a glimpse into their future together, they were ready to jump ship — even if that only meant moving from the bedroom to the couch.

"I'm fairly certain living together too soon was what pushed us to break up," Karla says.

Danni Zhang, psychologist and managing director of New Vision Psychology


It’s important to remember that helping loved ones, friends, or even co-workers express themselves effectively takes time – and a come knowledge about how our early Attachment wounds impact our adult relationships.

Here are a few tips:

  • Be present and remember that their Avoidance likely has little to do with you.
  • Provide a safe space and remind them that you are available.
  • Keep your promise be available.
  • Put your judgment in the backseat.
  • Actively listen.
  • Provide abundant reassurance.

While no universal recipe exists, seeking advice and counsel from someone with Attachment experience can help.


9 Signs Your Partner Is Emotionally Draining You

Being tired from spending time with your partner is not a good feeling. But how do you know if you're being totally consumed by your relationship? What are the signs your partner is emotionally draining you? How do you know whether the exhaustion you are carrying all the time is related to your mate, or if you're just tuckered out in general? Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate feelings of being totally tapped out because of a job or life from the same feelings originating from a relationship.

As such, I posed these questions to a host of excellent relationship experts, who can tell one from the other and know when your partner is just straight-up emotionally draining you, and how you can tell. From feeling as though your boo is siphoning off all of your free energy to noticing that you're spending way too much time ruminating on what one expert calls "intrusive thoughts," there are some surefire signs of emotional drain via relationship.

1. You Can't Stop Thinking About Them

"Your partner might be draining you emotionally when you spend an unhealthy amount of time focused on intrusive thoughts," psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. She defines these as the types of thoughts that completely take over your airspace, as it were, at all hours of the day and night: "When you are thinking about what they are doing, who they are with, what they are doing with this person, or what the nature of this relationship is — this can be draining."

This isn't the fault of your partner, but an issue that you likely brought into the relationship from your past, which is good and bad. Good because it means you can work on it on your own, but also bad because it's all on you, and you'll take it where ere you go. If it's keeping you up at night, all the more reason to figure out how to stop. "If you are staying up to all hours of the night with racing thoughts and worries about your partner, this is definitely draining," Martinez says. For real!

2. You're Tired All The Time

"We are all energy. Our hearts beat because of energy, our brains function because of energetic impulses," zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva tells Bustle. "Our cells are filled with energy. When we don't feel well, we feel tired. When we feel alive, we feel energized." This extends to your personal relationships. "When your partner makes you feel more like you have a cold or flu, rather than on top of the world, they are draining you emotionally."

But just because you feel under the weather when you're with someone a lot does not mean you need to break up with them. "It simply means you are perhaps giving too much it may not even be them," she says. Though it's easy to point fingers, the call may be coming from inside the house, as it were.

"I urge clients to pull back when they feel this. You are in charge of your own energy," she says. Regardless of who is responsible, the answer is to go inward and take some time to figure out what you need. "If they are draining you, first look at you, then look at them," she says. "This is very fixable. If it is you, pull back. If it is them, pull back. Your energy is yours, and can't be given or stolen unless you hand over the power to someone else." Truth.

3. You Can't Wait For A Solo Weekend

"You’re relieved that you have a weekend alone," New-York-based relationship expert and author April Masini tells Bustle. "When you’re spending more of your energy that you want to on your partner and his [or her] needs, a break is going to seem like much more than a break." Though we all need alone time, this extreme feeling of looking forward to having solo time is a flag.

"It’s going to seem like a cause for fireworks, champagne corks popping, and a loud 'Whoopee!'" she says. "If you’re all that excited to have a weekend alone, consider that the reason for your joy is that they're draining you when they're around." Not a good sign. "You should be happy to have a break, but not that happy." If you don't miss your partner when they're gone, then it might be time to give the whole thing some thought.

4. Your Partner Is Not Boosting You Emotionally

It may sound anticlimactic, but the fastest way to tell whether you're getting sapped by your partner is to just tune into the way you feel when you're together. "Particularly in an established relationship, we are prone to simply go through the motions without reflecting on how we feel moment to moment," marriage and family therapist and relationship expert Esther Boykin tells Bustle. "However, it is in the small moments, like when they text you or as you're getting ready to go out together, that you will find the most telling signs of how your partner is affecting you emotionally."

She continues: "Over time, Friday night date night may become routine, and no longer elicit the same butterflies of excitement — but does it make you feel tired and disinterested? Do you put off responding to their texts and phone calls, or avoid doing activities alone with them? The small responses to your partner's bids for attention are indicative of how they are impacting your emotional well-being. It is in these easily overlooked reactions that you will find the most accurate clues to whether or not your partner is boosting or draining your emotional life." If you feel drained, trust it, and talk to your partner about it.

5. You Have To Recover After You See Each Other

"You are with an emotional vampire if you find yourself physically drained," psychologist, image consultant and dating expert Dr. Jennifer Rhodes tells Bustle. "Emotionally sensitive people and empaths often do not pick up on these cues right away." If you've just had a date, and now you feel flat-out exhausted, give it some thought. "[When] you are usually able to get through your day, and now need to spend the entire weekend recovering, it may be worth exploring who is sucking up your energy." If signs point to your partner, it's time to make a change.

6. You Feel As Though They Always Ask Too Much

"If you are emotionally overwhelmed by the requests of your partner, you have the feeling — 'Now it’s too much,'" Salama Marine, psychologist and online dating expert for dating website EliteSingles, tells Bustle. "It’s not about your partner’s behavior, but more about how you feel about it." In other words, one person's crazy is another person's normal, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all emotionally draining behavior. Rather, it's all about how you feel about the needs of your boo. "Everybody has their own limit," Marine reminds. If you are constantly hitting your breaking point, you're being emotionally drained.

7. Conversations Exhaust You

"A sure sign that your partner is draining you emotionally is a feeling of fatigue that washes over you whenever you get into a conversation with them," dating expert Noah Van Hochman tells Bustle. "This may start as a tired feeling and then progress into quick-tempered annoyance at things that you would previously never have thought twice about." In other words, you may just feel tired out at first, but, slowly but surely, little things will start bothering you.

"Have you ever argued with someone and they end it abruptly by just saying the word 'whatever' and walking away?" he asks. If so, you may be dealing with someone who is very emotionally draining.

8. You Feel As Though You're Walking On Eggshells

"If you feel like sharing your own feelings or relying on your partner emotionally will rock the boat, chances are you feel emotionally drained," life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. "You never want to feel like someone's counselor, but that line can be blurred when there isn't a 50/50 split on emotional sharing." We all need to be able to lean on our partners from time to time. "If you feel like relying on them in the slightest bit will cause an implosion, it's best to reevaluate the stability of your relationship," she says. Though you can't rely on your partner for everything, in times of need, they need to be able to be there for you.

9. You're Not Getting Your Needs Met

"If they refuse to listen to you and communicate by arguing to get their way, you will feel drained, and that your needs aren't getting met," Stefanie Safran, Chicago's "Introductionista" and founder of Stef and the City, tells Bustle. "If you feel that most of the relationship is you listening and they are not, reconsider if this relationship is worth it," she says. Relationships must be a give and take situation, and if it doesn't feel that way for you, you'll feel exhausted from your partner all the time.

Images: Fotolia Giphy (9)

Happy shopping! FYI, Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which were added independently from Bustle's sales and editorial departments after publication.


You get annoyed by even the smallest things. You only see negativity around you and you constantly feel irritated. You lose your temper over insignificant matters. You are highly sensitive to the negativity surrounding you and it makes you feel hopeless.

Lately, you feel like you have lost faith in life. Nothing seems to motivate you to make an effort to live better. You don’t have the will to get things done and you constantly struggle to find the necessary motivation.


10 Excuses That Hide Emotionally Abusive Relationships

Last reviewed by Sheri Jacobson June 30, 2015 Counselling, Relationships, Self Esteem 44 Comments -->

Emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse or mental abuse) is any form of non-physical abuse designed to cause damage to another person’s mindset and erode their sense of wellbeing .

It most often involves someone imposing their power over you in a way that attacks your sense of confidence and makes you depend on them , whether that is through control, coercion, manipulation, degradation, bullying, and/or verbal cruelty.

The perpetrator might psychologically abuse you in such a careful way that they know nobody will take you seriously if you complain. In this way psychological abuse can be sadly difficult to prove.

Emotional abuse can include:

  • name calling and putdowns
  • constantly belittling you in front of others
  • pressuring you to do things you have said you don’t want to
  • telling lies about you to others
  • ignoring you when you are trying to communicate
  • controlling who you speak to and see or isolating you from loved ones
  • monitoring everything you do, including emails and texts
  • not letting you go out alone
  • sulking if you don’t do what they say
  • making you think you are nothing without them and ‘need’ them
  • telling you everything is all your fault
  • controlling your finances

Why emotional abuse is a big deal

Although emotionally abusive relationships might not leave physical marks, they can leave deep psychological issues it takes years to heal from.

Emotional abuse corrodes your self-esteem , meaning you are left with not only no confidence but even no idea of who you really are any more. You might even suffer an identity crisis . These issues can combine to make it difficult to get into future relationships and can affect both your career, social life, and finances. Low self-esteem is also is a very common path to depression.

Emotional abuse is often is the precursor to physical abuse – in fact it is seen as the most reliable predicator that your partner has the potential for physical abuse .

Who does emotional abuse affect?

Emotional abuse is pervasive, crossing culture, gender, age, and types of relationships.

The Home Office in the UK claims that when it comes to cases of reported abuse, emotional abuse is more common than any other form of abuse, with men almost as affected as women. 46% of men reporting abuse had suffered psychological abuse, in comparison to 57% of women.

Emotionally abusive relationships are not just romantic, either. They can be familial relationships or work relationships. Workplace bullying is a form of emotional abuse.

10 Excuses You Are Making About Emotional Abuse

Below are a series of excuses that are commonly used by victims in denial they are suffering psychological abuse at the hands of another.

1. It’s normal, really.

Emotional abuse is, sadly, common. But this does not mean it is normal. A healthy relationship does not involve constantly being belittled, manipulated, and controlled.

2. It’s my fault, I drive him/her crazy.

A key tactic of emotional abuse is psychological manipulation, which often means making you think it’s your fault, that you are ‘crazy’ or ‘too much’. But constantly blaming you for everything is just another form of emotional abuse. A healthy relationship involves both people taking responsibility for what isn’t working.

3. It’s just their sense of humour/ they are only kidding.

Sometimes we all gently poke fun at someone we love. But the key is sometimes. This sort of joking also happens when it’s a two way street. If you are constantly the subject of ‘jokes’, and the only person being made fun of is you, it’s likely less funny or kind and more likely abuse.

4. They don’t really mean it.

In the heat of an argument we all say things we regret. But how often are their comments callous? Or do they force you to do things you don’t want to? Daily? More that daily? And are such things done offhandedly, as if it’s normal? If they don’t really mean it, they why are they constantly saying or doing what they are?

5. It’s just their weird way of showing they love me /Deep down I know they love me.

What is their ‘unweird’ way of showing they love you? And how often does that happen compared to their unkindness? If they do nice things once or twice a month, but put you down and bully you daily, how is this love, when love is a supportive accepting relationship between two people?

6. But I’ve been mean, too.

Over time, being emotionally abused is ‘crazymaking’. In other words, the nicest person will start being snappy in return, or manipulating back. Take note of how many times you are ‘mean’ compared to their output. And try to understand how you got to this place where you have lost sight of yourself so much you now think you are a bad person. If this is a self belief that has only developed since the relationship?

6. That’s just the way he or she is.

Perhaps this is true. Perhaps they truly are unkind most of the time. But that is not to say you are to put up with it.

7. I can take it/ It doesn’t bother me that much.

This is a common excuse when it comes to emotional abuse – a sense that you are ‘cut out’ to deal with difficult people. This is really just codependency. It means you are using all of your energy to ‘handle’ another person. That is not a relationship, it is a power struggle.

8. I like being treated this way, if I’m honest.

Sadly, some sufferers of psychological abuse reach a point they convince themselves they like being abused. Nobody, deep down, likes being hurt. This is a survivor mechanism an the result of so much manipulation and blackmail you are taking the blame.

9. It could be worse.

If you are telling yourself it’s not so bad as you aren’t being physically hurt, remember again that emotional abuse often eventually leads to physical abuse. And also remember that the psychological damage you are creating by being in an emotionally abusive relationship can take far longer to heal than any broken bone.

10. If I just stick it out things will change.

It’s very unlikely that an emotional abuser can change within the structure of a relationship unless he or she has committed to transform and admits to having a problem. Don’t see this as advice to spend all your time cajoling your partner or family member into therapy, though. Unless someone attends therapy of their own accord it is rarely useful. But then there is you…

Can therapy help me?

Manipulation is an art, and it can leave the brightest, strongest person confused.

It can be very hard to get the perspective and strength to walk away, and often an emotionally abused person does not want to turn to friends and family for fear of hearing ‘I told you so’.

A counsellor or psychotherapist can offer unbiased support and create a safe environment to unpack what is going on and what you would like to do next. To find a therapist to talk to online by Skype, you can also visit our sister site harleytherapy.com to find counsellors who specialise in working with people who have suffered abuse.

Have you used another excuse to deny that you are in an emotionally abusive relationship? Feel free to share below.

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I have been in an abusive relationship for 22 years. And not really. Realised.

Sorry to hear that. It’s never too late to take care of yourself and make different choices, and to seek support if you need it.

I hv bn in an emotionally abusive marriage for 23 years. We hv a child, main reason I stay. Also I need to be less dependent so I’m going to get a dental assistant certificate so I can earn my own money.

A great idea to do things that help you feel more independent and remind you that you are a powerful person. Have you researched if there are any support groups in your area? Other people going through what you are might be able to help you access resources that mean you don’t have to stay if you don’t want to.

Abuse abounds in many areas from home to work to general interactions with other people. Instead of retaliating of speaking your mind to difficult or toxic people it may be easier to adopt a simple mantra instead. Eckhart Tolle suggests that insteadvof flaring up from a point of ego it is simpler to recognise that the offending person may lack consciousness. Instead of personalising their behaviour an option is to note what they do and how you feel but not mull over the other person’s lack of respect or self awareness. Remember that you can only control your own response and build an imaginary wall between the difficult person to keep your peace of mind intact.

Yes, it’s very true that we can choose whether to react or not react, and mindfulness is invaluable when dealing with people who feel a need to project their insecurities on others. Retaliation, or vengefulness, becomes a power struggle that can lead to both parties being abusive and that is often an addictive road to go down. But on the other hand, if one is being emotionally abused, it’s important not to take the viewpoint “I can handle this all by myself I just need to block it”. That’s actually close to codependent thinking. If you are experiencing emotional abuse and it’s affecting you more and more, It’s important not go into denial and to recognise you need support.

I left an emotionally abusive relationship with support from my mother but have now realised she is emotionally abusive worse than my partner which explains a lot . They fight over my attention and I am submissive in their company as I have no job and am co dependant I now realise . It stems from my childhood I was chosen to be the person to do everything for my mother . When she divorced I took over father role in the house . I have lost 4 relatives in 2 years including my father and am worn down my X has been very supportive and says he is lost without me and I feel the same we want to be a family again but can people change . I have become dependant on my daughter for company as we moved and I have no friends I feel I am turning into my mother as she has influenced me far too much I realise that now interfering in my relationship .

Your self awareness is very powerful! You see quite clearly the cycle of codependency in families. It’s a strong cycle, and good for you for recognising that you are about to do the same thing to your own daughter but don’t want to. Yes, people can change, absolutely, but it isn’t overnight and it does require commitment. Is your ex willing to seek support? If someone is abusive it usually means they have unresolved childhood trauma. Without professional support it’s unlikely such a big issue can change. As for going back to the relationship, what are the real positives of that? Is it just that it feels good that he is ‘lost without you’? Are there really enough positives to turn around? Can you write them down? What does it feel like reading the list of positives, and what are the negatives? Is there another way forward you haven’t seen yet? And what could you do to step more into your own power now, so that you can more clearly see other options? Is there someone you can talk to who is outside this situation and can give you impartial feedback? A support group or maybe a counsellor?

My husband verbally lashes out at me when he wants to dispel his anger. I could be reading and in he comes fussing about something that I had nothing to do with. I one argued with him, but that never helped. He always thinks that saying sorry and being affectionate afterwards is enough. I’m so fed up with this behavior!

My husband verbally lashes out at me when he wants to dispel his anger. I could be reading and in he comes fussing about something that I had nothing to do with. I once argued with him, but that never helped. He always thinks that saying sorry and being affectionate afterwards is enough. I’m so fed up with this behavior!

That does not sound like a great situation. Does he know you don’t like this pattern and don’t feel that saying sorry is enough? Would he consider going to a couples counsellor together?

It sounds hard. It’s interesting that you only once argued with him. How long has this been going on? What within you feels that it’s been okay to let it go on this long while saying so little? And is there any way you could reach out for support to look at what you are getting out of this relationship and how you might start to set some boundaries that work for you?

When the emotional abuse first started, I would call him on the offcolor or borderline things he would say… Telling me I wasn’t very smart, I’d put on a little weight, etc. He would always tell me “You’re too sensitive.” I knew from life before him that I could be sensitive sometimes. So I took it as an opportunity to grow, to learn patience and understanding. Next time he said something similar, I still didn’t like it but I rolled my eyes instead and moved on. “You’re too sensitive” was what I started telling myself to justify when he said and did horrible things to me, embarrassing me in friends, breaking up with me as a form of punishment and getting back together with me as a “reward.” Ponting out younger and more attractive women at the bar, saying “why can’t you look like that?” or offering to give me to his friends (who were good guys and fortunately didn’t encourage him when he did that.) Thankfully we’re not together anymore but he still tries to control me through my dog which he legally owns but I raised.

It’s good that you spotted what is undoubtedly emotional abuse and moved on. Sad about the dog, however….

How can you tell if you are being emotionally abusive as well or if you’ve just been pushed too far and gaslighted into thinking you may be?

My boyfriend has narcissistic traits and has been abusive in the form of constantly saying things that jab at my self esteem (he compliments me just as much and thinks this makes up for it) and lashes out at me verbally when he is annoyed by me. I did not realize this was abusive until I was pregnant with his daughter who is now 8 weeks old. He was especially mean to me when I was pregnant. He yelled at me for looking for a blanket in the middle of the night at his studio when I was freezing cold and pregnant – just an example). He was constantly swinging from telling me he loves me to telling me he didn’t feel for me anymore, which really messed with me when I was pregnant and just wanted to be a family. He cheated on me and lied to my face and after finding out and crying about it one day, he refused to hug me. Now, he is trying. I told him I want him to go to psychotherapy, and he started seeing a “life coach” which I did not think was good enough but I have seen improvements. Is it worth trying with him? What can I do for myself to heal from all of this? Thank you.

That’s a very good question. And it gets very complicated in unhealthy relationships. If we stay long enough, we all tend to play all roles, or roles can switch around. But we’d actually suggest that you are asking the wrong question here. What about questions like, why am I staying in this relationship? What is this relationship giving me? What would it take to move on from this relationship if it’s so crazymaking? We hope that helps.

It sounds like you’ve been through a lot, which is especially amazing seeing as through it all you’ve had a child. You can’t change him, he is the only one who can do that. The only person you have power to shore up, support, and help here is yourself (and by default your child). It would be a good idea to consider counselling yourself, to look at what is keeping you in this relationship, if there are any patterns of this sort of relationship in your life, and how you can build up your self-esteem. At the very least it would stand as an example to him of someone who is willing to put the work in to change. If you are on a low budget, see our piece on low cost counselling. We wish you courage!

Hello I’m in an abusive relationship my husband verbally abuse me by calling me names and bring up my past when he has done wrong he quickly shuffle the blame on me I often fI nd myself just telling him what he wants to hear to make things right since we have been married I haven’t been able to sleep it’s so bad that I’m now on ambien I’m also on antidepressants, what should I do we are talking divorce is that the best solution,

Thank you for this honest sharing Vanessa. We can’t tell you what to do as we don’t know you or your partner or the full situation, what else is going on, your past, his past….and these sorts of problems are always complicated. But there are good questions to ask here. What keeps you in the relationship? Is this a pattern in your life? His life? Did you already have anxiety, and the relationship made it worse? Is there anything worth salvaging here? Would you both be willing to go to couples counselling together? Usually, in these sorts of relationships, it’s a pattern from childhood you’ll both be acting out. The emotions you feel and the things you bring to the way you relate will be much bigger than just the relationship itself, so seeing each other clearly becomes very difficult. This is why your anxiety would be through the roof, as any sense of not being safe in the world, caused by things in your past, will combine with the threat you feel when he is unkind, and you might literally have feelings of terror with each casual criticism he makes. A couples therapist can help you see each other clearly and communicate in ways that are useful instead of destructive. In situations like this, both partners need to be willing to work on the relationship and change, though, otherwise it is very hard for any real change to occur. Hope that helps. If he is not willing, it is well worth seeing a counsellor yourself, as a high level of anxiety and choosing abusive partners is a sign of past trauma that needs resolving or it will replay in each relationship you have. On a positive note, with commitment to personal growth such patterns can and do change. We wish you courage!

After roughly two years of abuse I gradually recognised what it was, and that I can get out, it was hard cause I had to do it all in secret by myself (flat hunting, viewing, referencing, deposits etc.), and it was difficult and there were times after moving I cried , but I knew I’d made the right decision. This was three months ago and I’m gradually rebuilding my life, finding who I am again. Sadly I had to leave my cat behind and I think about her all the time, but I know that that was her home and she’d be happy there and well looked after, even though I miss her so much.

Matt thank you so much for sharing this, you are a brave man and it’s sure to inspire all those who read it. That is so, so hard about your cat, animals are such important parts of our lives, we’re sorry.

I think I’m being emotionally abused. My husband often ignores me when I speak to him, staring away from me, blanking me. He then expresses annoyance or feigned surprise when I point out that I was speaking to him. He also implies that he puts up with a great deal from me, but never tells me how, when I ask him, what I’m doing wrong. He is ALWAYS right. He quietly makes all the decisions although he would deny this, “We’ve talked about this already,” which suggests a resolution has been reached, which it never has. He calls me stupid “in fun” except I don’t find it funny. He has made unilateral decisions about our finances. He tells me not to shout at him (when I’m not shouting). He will NOT discuss emotions or anything contentious, if I try to do so he immediately turns on me the very thing I’ve said to him. If I hit home with a remark he will immediately “explode” and storm off. Always there is the suggestion simmering in the background that he suffers in his relationship with me, that I am very difficult to live with. He never explains what I do wrong. He is the saint and I am lacking. I am exhausted.

Julie, that sounds really hard. You are not been heard at all, which must feel so defeating. We don’t know the whole story from just a comment, for example, we don’t know what the positives are, why you haven’t left this relationship. We don’t know your past, what bought you two together and whether these patterns you talk of are recent or were always this way. But what is clear is there are massive communication issues here. And calling someone stupid is really not okay. So if he was up for it, we’d say couples counselling would be a great idea. If you think he’d explode, then we suggest it’s a good idea for you to find some support for yourself here, to understand what is keeping you in a non supportive, controlling relationship and what you want next for yourself. We hope that helps.

I’m going through an abusive relationship where he always makes things up saying well u cheated on me and I never cheated he curses me out calls me out my name at the same time I’m pregnant and it’s really starting to take a toll on me.

Bryniesha, this is not normal or fair and is indeed abusive and a common tactic used by men to try and control women, trying to make them look bad when they have done nothing so the partner can then imply they have the right to treat you poorly when they absolutely do not. We do get many comments from women who are in abusive relationships but are pregnant or just had a child, sometimes it takes having a bigger priority like a child to wake us up so we can realise that we are not in a positive situation. We highly recommend you find support here. If you can’t afford counselling, look for a free hotline, or a charity that supports mothers, or a forum for women with controlling abusive partners. There is help out there. Do what you can to find it. We wish you courage.

Thank you for sharing this. I was once in an abusive relationship where I probably used all of these excuses throughout our entire marriage. I was finally able to leave it after many years and decided to write a book about it, in hopes to help others who are going through the same things. It’s called exactly how I feel: He Never Deserved Me

Congratulations on the book Ariana, we are sure it will be helpful for many.

I ended a 4.5 year on and off relationship nearly 12 months ago. In this relationship I found myself people pleasing, walking on eggshells to keep the peace and the relationship. He demonstrated passive aggressive conflict avoidance behaviour, ie: nothing was EVER resolved just swept under the carpet and yes I enabled this, sulking, stonewalling, deflecting, jealousy towards my treasured pets particularly an aged dog that was going on 20 years old and another dog that developed heart failure both needed extra care. He also cheated on me and promised to attend counselling around this but never committed to this. He suffered childhood sexual abuse and was adopted I don’t see him as evil but understand that I could not expect to be with a man who has untreated issues of his nature and not expect that he has behaviour that’s evident of it. My problem now is that he moved on with someone else within a heart beat of us ending posting it all over FB, living with her within 4 months etc. I am now obsessed with them and if I see them together or hear about them I get a visceral reaction in my body and my grief is not leaving. I am not ‘moving on’ but doing everything necessary to move on keeping active, not looking at FB, going on an occasional date. I have a lot of interests walking, horse riding and friends and family attend regular counselling but it does not appear to be working. Why am I still obsessed and so sad that he has found someone and that this new relationship is ‘working for him?

Gosh that is really hard, and believe it or not actually common. There are many of us out there who, when rejected or abandoned, even if by someone we don’t even like, then become addicted/obsessed with that person. Why are there so many of us? Because this is a brain response created by childhood trauma. Sadly, many of us are traumatised as children in the society we live in. So this response won’t be about him or that relationship. (And we’d guess this might not be the first time you’ve felt this sort of response?) It will actually be deeply rooted in an experience from childhood that left you feeling abandoned/rejected/traumatised. Your visceral reaction is a PTSD-like reaction, it’s a cortisol rush most likely, a fight-flight-flee response. This is caused by trauma that leaves someone in a sort of long-term PTSD. We are willing to be there is even a fair amount of trauma in your childhood, and that is quite evident or you would never have chosen to go near a man who is so disturbed. General counselling can sometimes not work if there is a trauma incident, in fact sometimes it can make things worse! This is because just talking about trauma, if you have a form of long-term PTSD, can cause a sense of being re-traumatised. If any of this sounds possible, if there is trauma in your childhood, then you’d be best with a therapist who is trauma-based and integrates EMDR, then possibly CBT therapy which literally retrains the brain away from black/white thinking. Schema therapy might also be something to look into long-term. You might also find other forms of therapy that work with trauma that work for you, that are more alternative and outside our realm of expertise to mention.We say all this with the caveat that we don’t fully know you, so we are not able to give you any diagnosis, that this is just a series of suggestions based on what you mention. We hope it helps.

My husband constantly criticizes me. He tells me he’s being honest and I should know these things. His comments are you sweep to slow, you never cut a tomato right, talk louder, that sounded dumb and everyone else would think so too. He goes on to say that when I do these things I put him in a bad mood and that I annoy him and how he feels alone because I can’t have an intelligent conversation with him. I see his perspective that I can sweep faster or learn not to cut a tomato crooked and sometimes I do sound “blonde”. I’m at the point where I stone walling him because I can’t be the perfect person he wants me to be so it’s easier just to avoid all conversation with him. I know that’s not healthy for a relationship but I don’t know what to do. Is this constructive criticism or verbal abuse? Do I need work harder and always remember to talk Louder and think before I speak so I don’t say stupid things? What’s you take on this very narrow window of my life?

Kelli, we are of course only working with limited information that a comment can contain. We don’t know you or your husband or the full situation. But he sounds extremely critical and controlling. Picking on someone for the way they cut a tomato or sweep is horrible, and blaming you for how he feels about his life is really not healthy. It’s not constructive criticism it’s outright mean. You are basically living on eggshells always trying to do things ‘right’. That is not the way a relationship should be. It means you are being controlled and belittled. Is there anyone you can talk to? Is there any support for you here? we don’t know what country you are in, what your options are, how safe it is for you to reach out for help…

My family supports the person abusing me. My father even attracts women who are bossy and he is possibly a victim caught up in the abusive behavior, since he does support the person who is abusive in the family. I do not see any of the family members. I have felt the abuse since i was a child. I am 32.

Hi Trine, it sounds hard. But at the age of 32 you are a full grown adult who can make choices and who can walk away from abusive situations or set boundaries, family members or not. If you can’t, if your self esteem is too low and you struggle to be honest, set boundaries, and say no, that’s okay to. Many people have problems with this. But do seek counselling. A good counsellor will help you learn to step into your personal power and stop being put in the child box but become the woman in charge of her own choices. As for your father, unfortunately he is an adult too, free to make choices to lead his life the way he likes. If that is damaging to you, then it becomes about deciding how much contact you want to allow. You can’t control your father or his choices, but you can control what you allow in your life.

Hello, I have been married to an outwardly very nice and supportive man for nearly 25 years. However I fear, that I may be in an emotionally abusive marriage. The trouble is on the outside everything is fine. He has a very successful career, so much so that I don’t have to work, we have three fantastic children, a nice house, lots of wonderful foreign holidays, equaling what might appear an enviable lifestyle . An outsider may think I have nothing to worry or complain about.
Yet I am not emotionally happy. Throughout our marriage he has always but his career, the opinions and views of his side of the family , who do not accept me as I am not English, his interests and socialising with his colleagues first. He chooses where we holiday and when, any suggestions by me fall on deaf ears. He has always chosen where we live. At one point I was abandoned in the middle of hostile remote village completely isolated, while he carried on with his life. He has admitted that he is worried about losing me, yet treats me with contempt, refuses to discuss anything that doesn’t suit him or he finds uncomfortable to the point where arguments have developed out of sheer frustration. Instead of clearing the air, he proceeds to sulk, stonewall and shut me out. Until the next time I try to talk to him and he ignores me which inevitably leads me to becoming angry eventually. This cycle then repeats itself on and on.
A few years ago I had a mental breakdown due to his unreasonable and “odd” behaviour. I became convinced that he had an affair because he was so distant, cold and distracted and became very irritable with the children. We argued a lot and eventually I became so distressed that I tried to take my own life. ( Husband denies affair, “it all in my head “). I hospitalised and diagnosed with psychotic depression and emotional instability.
I had extensive therapy as a result for my “emotional difficulties “ and we even had couples counselling. During the sessions husband put on a perfect supportive partner cloak and was promptly proclaimed a saint for putting up with me.
However as soon as the therapy ended and I was discharged from the services, his controlling, manipulative and ostracising behaviour has returned.
I think, he has deliberately framed me as unstable in order to maintain control.
However as he has isolated me, had me labelled as mentally ill and has not physically attracted me, I cannot prove any of this.
Is it all possible that I might be right and am married to a controlling and manipulative man or is it really true that this is all in my head as he says?

Hi Hannah, anything is possible in this world we live in! We don’t know you or him, so we of course can’t diagnose anything over a comment box. But our questions here are nothing to do with him. Our questions are all to do with you. You are evidently feeling very unhappy, trapped, and a victim. And yet, if you have been together 25 years your children would not be terribly young at this point or even live at home one imagines? So we are not clear why exactly you are staying in a situation where you feel trapped, unhappy, and controlled? Do you have a life of your own in the form of friends, hobbies, a job? Do you have outlets to be yourself and grow your sense of identity and personal power? What would it feel like to take all the energy you are investing on trying to prove him wrong and put it all into getting to know yourself and your own power to make choices and create change in your life? Because the one thing we are sure of is that you can’t change him. You can’t make him be someone else. Nor can you change the past. But you have immense power to decide how you are going to feel, how you are going to let this determine your life ahead, what you are going to focus on, and what choices you are going to make to create the life you have left. We wish you courage.

I am having a very difficult time admitting that all of the stuff I am reading (and believe me I have read many things on this subject recently) applies to me. I have been married for going on 20 years. I have recently began questioning my husbands behavior toward me. I don’t know why all of a sudden I started to realize that the issue was his behaviour as I believed for many years his reactions were because of things I did. He is extremely critical of everything I do. Always saying :why would you…” to everything from which route I take while driving to what music I listen to. For many years I actually thought he was acting that way because I did something to make him. Also he is always accusing me of cheating. Calls my cell phone repeatedly if i am out with friends and if he doesn’t do that the his bad mood when i get home made me just not bother to go out for fear of having to deal with his emotional outbursts. Our children are older so that is not a reason to stay. I make the same amount of money as him so that’s not it either. I guess the reason is i have always felt these things were my fault and now see that isn’t the case.

Hi Christine, sometimes when kids leave home we have more time to think. It sounds like there are very real problems in your relationship you now have time to recognise. But this does not mean that they cannot be overcome. As it also sounds like there is not communication between you and there are patterns of each person blaming the other. Does he, for example, know how you feel? Have you directly told him? Do you tell him you will not stand for him accusing you of cheating? Or do you set no boundaries at all and just accept all? Sometimes we become so trapped in ways of relating we don’t know how to escape. On one hand he might want to hurt you, but on the other hand, given that it seems you don’t set boundaries, it could be that he is ‘acting out’ because you do not respond. We simply don’t know as we can’t say much based on a comment. In summary, we would recommend couples counselling if you are not sure that this is or isn’t a relationship worth saving. Otherwise we’d recommend you seek individual counselling so you can learn to raise your self-esteem and set boundaries and have enough confidence to leave if that is in fact what you want. All the best.

My husband and I are in our early 󈨀s and we have been married for almost 6 years. He has been emotionally abusive the entire time, with it becoming worse as time goes on. He has many good qualities and we have a good deal in common, and before we married we had long serious discussions regarding how we hoped our marriage and life would be together. We seemed to be in agreement then, and seemed to have worked out compromises in other areas. I trusted him 120% and loved him with all my heart. I own a house also, but he had horses and tractors and things so logistically it was best for me to relocate and commute to work until retirement. Unfortunately, as soon as I moved and we were married, the controlling and angry behavior showed itself immediately. I very quickly learned living with him that he is very protective of his things and money, that he insists on being in control of most everything. He has a very quick temper, and the smallest thing can set off off a major explosion. To something as small as putting a piece of paper in the wrong garbage bin….. To asking questions during a discussion, or just something I’m curious about… Since asking questions to him means his authority and intelligence is being questioned, or is just simply an annoyance. He goes into rages to keep control, to keep me walking on eggshells waiting for the next blow up, which happens weekly at least. He has called me the most disgusting and vile names, he has ridiculed and is jealous of my close relationship with my family. He is not close to his family and did not seem to enjoy being a parent. He doesn’t understand that I can love and spend time with my kids and grandkids, and love him too. He has said I need to make a choice. He threatens divorce when he is in a mad rage, usually yelling and screaming that he will go get a lawyer the next day and rake me over the coals and make sure I end up with nothing. And usually in a day or two he is calm again and saysbut he doesn’t really want a divorce he doesn’t want to lose me, but that he is tired of the fighting. Unfortunately, I have learned to fight back over the years And I have behaved in ways that I am not proud of well defending myself against his tirades. He truly cannot see that his angry controlling hurtful behavior causes the fights.
Where we are right now is that I have told him that I will not tolerate one more nasty outburst, and I will not continue to live where I am treated with no respect, consideration, affection or kindness. He he has finally admitted that his behavior is abusive, that I don’t deserve that, and says that he wants to make changes. I’ve heard all that before with the exception of him admitting his behavior is abusive. He normally blames his behavior on me. He has an appointment with a therapist this week. The fact that he has on his own decided to do therapy is stunning because he always has said he doesn’t believe in counseling and absolutely would not do it. Unfortunately after some comments this morning he made, I still don’t feel that he is very committed to doing therapy. I feel that he will try to manipulate the therapy, and I am sure that he will only tell the therapist his version of the truth and minimize the verbal and emotional abuse he has been inflicting for the past almost 6 years. He seems to have the idea that he will go to this first visit and the counselor will determine whether he needs therapy or not. That worries me, and I feel that he isn’t really as committed as he is initially said he is. This therapist specializes with adult males, particularly adult males with anger and control issues. I wonder though, how Will he know the full view of what’s been going on here and what my husband does so that he can help him? I don’t believe that my husband will tell him. So how will he be helped? Should the therapist be interested in talking to me at all? I want to be supportive of him while he’s doing counseling, but I would also like the therapist to have the full story of the seriousness of what my husband does. If he isn’t helped and the controlling, angry nastiness continues, our marriage is definitely over. I love the man for his good qualities, but the verbal and emotional abuse is more than I can take. There won’t be any more chances and I will be moving on if there are not drastic changes made.

Hi KM. So what you are presenting here is your husband as the total problem and the total controller and you as the person just caught up in the sway. You mention rather quickly that perhaps your own behaviour is not something you are proud of but then veer back to blaming him for all. Also note how detailed this story is, as if this is something you have repeated many times before. So we’d reframe this. We are not undermining your suffering, which we are sure is very real and very painful. But in our experience of toxic relationships, unless one partner has narcissistic personality disorder (and it does not seem your partner does) are far, far more complex that ‘bad person/good person’. You are choosing this relationship, as an adult with total free choice. You are not even bound by economic issues by the sounds of it, which does sadly and even tragically keep some women in bad relationships. Rather you choose it, and there will be reasons for that, and it would be best if you go to therapy yourself to explore those reasons and to look at what is really keeping you stuck in this relationship, as if you were really not getting anything out of it we imagine you would have left long ago. Sometimes we are deeply addicted to the drama and the story. Other times we have deep rooted ideas of ‘love’ that keep us mistaking it for toxic imposters. Note that we can’t be a victim and have power at the same time. By framing yourself as the victim you throw your power out the window. To gain your power to decide whether to leave often involves accepting your responsibility for choosing the relationship and for what you are bringing to the drama. Also note that you call him controlling, but then seem to want to control his experience of therapy. It’s totally unethical and could lose a therapist his job to share what happens with a client with anyone else including a partner. In summary, you can’t control or change anyone else. Ever. The only person you can change is you, and a healthy relationship can only happen if we are with someone we can accept fully and unconditionally. So we’d say seek support to get to the root of this addictive drama and to make the right decision for your future.Good luck.

what do you do when your parent cuts you off from friendships behind your back, while trying to convince you that they are your best friend? my parent often brings up embarrassing stories of me in group settings, and talks about me behind my back to her friends. she jokes a lot that i have bad social skills because im homeschooled but she keeps taking away chances for me to improve those skills. any tips?

Hi Audrey, sounds like you are really wanting some independence in life. Do you have any other places to meet people, any sort of social groups outside of being homeschooled? Where you get to go without your mother? As we notice that you say she talks to her friends, not your friends. Is there any way you could talk to your mother about wanting to have some independence? She might not even realise she is doing this. The best way to approach this is when you feel very calm and after you have done your research. Don’t attack her or say ‘you did this/you did that’ which will only cause upset and a fight. Just explain how you feel and the outcome you would like. “I feel that I am not getting enough of a chance to develop my social skills and I’d like to get out and meet people in my age group. I’ve found this interest group/ class/ youth group I’d like to try”. Of course if your country is in lockdown this might not be possible. So you might have time to work up your courage.

So I’m engaged to a person I went to school with. He made/makes a huge difference in my life, defending/protecting me. I know that I have undiagnosed psychological issues, I’m aware of & can use all sorts of manipulation,& am super sensitive to empathy, & body language, yet choose to avoid it’s use as it isn’t a genuine/honest choice that someone makes. I know myself incredibly well.
I know my partner is a schizophrenic psychopathic unreadable person, that I am in an emotionally abusive relationship, that he has cheated on me & tells me never bring it up again, that he is controlling but I allow it (yet I am constantly depleted, have no time to look after myself, no finances, no friends, or family) I consider him my best friend, but he appears to be multiple people, to suit what he wants. He can be very scary & violent suggestively, without any factual cause. I know he’s not physically well, & had heart attack recently, & we have beloved pets that’s ultimately his.
I get a lot of subject switching, blame of everything but no acceptance of any himself. I am 44, & he’s few months younger. He is supposed to be taking some serious medication to make him not dangerous to others. Plus epileptic meds etc, with monthly psychiatric appointments. He won’t do any of these. Won’t take his medication for some reason he won’t explain/answer, & whenever I bring anything up, he blames it on me being a occasional drinker, suggests rest, time of the month, potential pregnancy, nagging, controlling, needy, or being wet, acting like a victim for sympathy.
I’ve read the stuff above about the excuses & I am aware of doing several 100% intentionally. I’m very resourceful & I’ve tried loads of methods of encouragement to communicate, listen, answer truthfully, be a friend, partner, & it’s all shot down. I can’t see the pets on the streets, & I’m kinda resigned to waiting till he dies to have a life & pets safely again.
Good chance I’m venting because it’s utterly exhausting & miserable doing everything for everyone. I believe I need to at the very least get my own diagnosis confirmed, yet my doctor won’t refer me, or take me seriously. Preferring to call it some kind of substance abuse related condition from the past, depression, alcohol related, or hypochondria (it feels he’s responding towards. It is very possible to be some relation to all those things, if I weren’t able to throw myself back to my exact childhood self, before any of that happened. Perhaps this may be of use to someone else, as all mental disorders require a psychiatrist & GP’s are unqualified to do anything but badly medicate physical disorders.
My GP told me there was a 2 year wait to see a psychiatrist & I he wasn’t sure if it was even necessary. I’ve done unbiased research & I need a professional diagnosis on me, let alone the partner. I have no money, no resources, & ridiculously little time to do anything for myself. I am open to all suggestions though, I can’t continue like this as I have nothing left to give, yet can not leave.


The Impact of Music on Emotion: Comparing Rap and Meditative Yoga Music

Music has accompanied major social events throughout the history of mankind. Major gatherings such as weddings, graduations, or birthdays are usually recognized by a familiar tune. There is evidence that music plays a large role in emotional processes within the brain. An individual&rsquos emotional state of mind can directly impact daily cognition and behavior. Studies have shown that music has the ability to regulate a wide range of both positive and negative emotions. This study was conducted to determine the degree of music&rsquos influence on aggression using two extremes of genre: relaxing yoga music versus aggressive rap music. It was expected that those who listened to yoga music would show lower aggression, while those who listened to rap music would have higher aggression. Results demonstrated that listeners of the aggressive rap music scored significantly higher in the dimension of verbal aggression. These findings suggest that aggressive music can make listeners more aggressive emotionally compared to other types of music.

The relationship between man and music is a complex one. The ancient Greco-Roman culture believed music penetrated both the body and mind, bringing them into equilibrium. In contrast, Europeans of the late 18 th century Romantic Era perceived music as a double-edged sword, capable of both curing and causing disorders (Rose & Bartsch, 2009). It is possible that these societies believed music possessed &ldquomagical&rdquo properties due to its unexplainable yet observable influence on behavior.

The brain seems to have a natural reaction to music, causing listeners to tap their toes, sing aloud, and dance around. However &ldquomagical&rdquo it may seem, there are clear connections between music, the mind, and behavior. In fact, utilizing the latest in neuroimaging technology, researchers are able to observe how the brain processes auditory information when under the influences of music. Parts of the brain that show an increased activity include areas such as the hypothalamus, responsible for maintaining stress hormones, and the hippocampus, the area vital for emotion regulation (Levitin, 2006).

In a PET scan study by Blood and Zatorre (2001), readings indicated that music triggers the same neural processes that govern the brain&rsquos ability to produce feelings of euphoria that are commonly associated with food, sex, and drugs. Blood and Zatorre also noted activations in structures of the brain related to attention and wakefulness when listening to music. The brain is able to convert musical auditory information into stimulation of neural components that are usually associated with emotion, attention, and feelings of euphoria. Based on these findings, what was once thought of as music&rsquos &ldquomagical&rdquo properties can now be understood as real activations within structures of the brain.

As styles of music evolved, so did the understanding of how certain melodies affect the mind. Evidence now suggests listening to music has the potential to stabilize the human psyche by eliciting a wide range both negative and positive emotions. For example, pleasant or relaxing sounds may have the capacity to benefit health by reducing levels of stress. High states of stress can destabilize the human psyche, causing disorders such as illnesses, insomnia, depression, or anxiety.

According to research by Bronnimann, Ehlert, Finkel, Marca, Nater, and Thoma (2013), the action of listening to relaxing music aids in stress-related recovery. Participants in this experiment consisted of 60 healthy females between the ages of 20 to 30. The study first exposed a psychological stressor to the participants that triggered their body&rsquos stress response. Subjects were then randomly assigned to one of three condition groups following exposure to stressor: (1) the experimental group listened to relaxing music, (2) control group listened to ambient nature sounds, and (3) another control group experienced no acoustic stimuli. Physiological states that react to stress, such as changes in salivary cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase, heart rate, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia, were monitored to determine music&rsquos recovery effects.

It was discovered that the music group showed considerable improvements in autonomic recovery (Bronnimann et al., 2011). In other words, physiological states of high heart rate and abnormal respiratory arrhythmia cycles which are aggravated by emotions of stress were restored to normal levels at a faster rate for the music groups. It is also interesting to note that the group who listened to ambient nature sounds was most effective in respiratory sinus arrhythmia recovery when compared to the music group.

Bronnimann et al. (2011) suggested that the human&rsquos subconscious desire to be one with nature may have explained why nature sounds was most effective in bringing individuals to a recovered state after exposure to stressor. This research suggests music&rsquos potential to relieve everyday stressors. Moreover, it is possible that individuals associated ambient nature sounds with perceptions of tranquility and relaxation, and these perceptions may have mitigated aggravated states of stress. Thus, mindfulness of relaxing music helped to stabilize the human psyche.

Another possible explanation for music&rsquos effect on behavior is that listening to music does real changes to the body&rsquos physiological states. Vaajoki, Kankkunen, Pietila, and Vehvilainen-Julkunen (2011) studied music&rsquos effect on physiological recovery of post-operation abdominal surgery patients. Vaajoki et al. measured the patients&rsquo respiratory rate, heart rate, and blood pressure on operation day, followed by the next three days.

Results indicated that musical intervention lowered blood pressure significantly more in the music group compared to the control group. In regards to long-term effects, the music group also demonstrated significantly better respiratory recovery. Vaajoki et al. suggests that participants slowed their breath rate by matching their breathing with slower songs, which effectively improved their respiratory systems. Whether it was voluntary or involuntary, the human body has a tendency to sync with music.

If music has such a great influence on physiological states as Vaajoki suggests, it is possible that songs with faster tempos and aggressive themes can lead to higher respiratory rates, potentially increasing blood flow and heart rate, and possibly leading to exasperated behaviors. While relaxing music may calm the listener, other genres of music, such as faster tempo punk music or heavy metal rock depicting violence and death, may counteractively promote negative emotions and exasperate behaviors.

Music has a unique influence on the human psyche because of its connection with emotional processes

Music has a unique influence on the human psyche because of its connection with emotional processes. Ehlert, Mohiyeddini, Nater, Ryf, and Thoma (2012) conducted a study to explore this link between music and emotional perceptions. Volunteers were introduced to 16 everyday hypothetical situations that inspired a large range of emotions. These situations, such as &ldquotraffic jam&rdquo and &ldquogoing to a party,&rdquo involved highly positive and highly negative emotional states. Individuals were instructed to visualize themselves in these emotional everyday situations, as if they were experiencing the events firsthand.

Afterwards, participants listened to 20 different styles of songs and were instructed to choose one song they preferred to listen to during the immersion of the hypothetical scenarios. Results indicated that there was a strong correlation between the type of emotion and the preferred style of music. In general, style of songs mirrored the type of emotion in the imagined environment. It appeared that listeners connected certain music to certain emotions (Ehlert et al., 2012). For example, fast paced aggressive songs in minor chords were preferred when participants immersed themselves in high negative emotional events, such as &ldquodispute with partner&rdquo or &ldquofailed lecture.&rdquo

In contrast, the high positive emotional events, such as &ldquoromantic dinner&rdquo or &ldquocozy Sunday,&rdquo were commonly matched with softer songs in major chords. In this study, participants had a tendency to choose music connected to the perception of their imagined emotions. In other words, the brain finds ways to connect emotional meaning with auditory stimuli.

Since numerous styles of music exist today, it is possible to assume that aggressive music can provoke aggressive behaviors. However, Frith (2008) suggested that music might not necessarily make the listener more hostile, but rather make the listener excited about the thought of being in a negative emotional state. Thus, music genres that are associated with negative themes may influence the mind to perceive aggressive emotions as an entertaining stimulation, rather than cause an observable change in behavior.

Though Frith argues that music may not make listeners more aggressive, it is possible that high arousal from music stimulation mixed with aggressive verbal lyrics can induce actual aggressive behaviors for avid listeners of the more &ldquohardcore&rdquo genres. Mast and McAndrew (2011) explored this very hypothesis by conducting a study involving the potential relationship between the violent lyrics of heavy metal rock and behavioral aggression. In this experiment, 35 male college students in an undergraduate psychology program were used in the sample. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: (1) a group that listened to heavy metal with intense violent lyrics for eight minutes, (2) a group that listened to heavy metal with non-violent lyrics for eight minutes, and (3) a control group that sat quietly in a room.

Afterwards, individuals were given a cup of water and bottle of hot sauce and were instructed to prepare a taste beverage for the next participant. Subjects had the freedom to determine any amount of hot sauce. Results showed that the violent lyrics group added significantly more hot sauce than the other two groups. According to Mast and McAndrew (2011), violent lyrics played a significant role in encouraging aggressive behaviors in the participants. This study suggests a likely link between aggressive genres and aggressive behaviors, possibly due to negative lyrical perceptions and language depicting anger and hostility. Similar areas of the brain that are activated during comprehension of emotions and language in the temporal lobe are also activated when listening to music (Besson, Chobert, and Marie, 2011).

Since auditory information of lyrics is translated in the language area of the brain, an area also activated by emotional processes, language from lyrics may give listeners perceptions of emotion. In the study by Mast et al. (2011), it is possible that aggressive lyrics provoked aggressive emotions, leading to more aggressive behaviors. Other musical attributes, such as the type of chord, tempo, or volume may have influenced aggression as well. Songs played in a minor key harmonic have a tendency give listeners perceptions of unsettling emotions such as sadness or anger (Levitin, 2006).

Since the PET scans by Blood and Zatorre (2001) demonstrated how music, food, sex, and drugs all share the same reward-based neural operations that govern feelings of euphoria, perhaps in the future it would be possible to use music as a means to regulate and improve a patient&rsquos emotional processes instead of resorting to medication. Music may prove to be a healthy therapeutic alternative.

With that goal in mind, the purpose of this current study was to determine the degree of music&rsquos influence on changes in emotion, specifically in the domains of aggression using two extremes of audio categories, relaxing yoga music and aggressive rap music. It was first hypothesized that the yoga music group will have lower aggression levels due to associations with perceptions of positive emotions and relaxation. The second hypothesis was that violent music will increase aggression among listeners due to the presence of aggressive lyrics and perceptions of negative emotions. In sum, it was expected that those who listened to yoga music will score lower in overall aggression, those who listened to rap music will score higher in aggression, and those who did not listen to music would fall in the median.

Methodology

Participants

75 volunteers were used for this study. The sample consisted of college students over the age of 18 at the college campus located at the Universities at Shady Grove. The experiment took place in a classroom setting. The students received extra course credit for their participation.

Materials

The Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (Buss & Perry, 1992) was used to monitor aggression among the participants. The Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire is a self-report consisting of 29 aggression related statements. The self-report instructed participants to rate how accurate the 29 items represented themselves on a 1 to 5 scale ex. &ldquo1: extremely uncharacteristic of me&rdquo to &ldquo5: extremely characteristic of me.&rdquo

The questionnaire measured four dimensions of aggression: physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger, and hostility. The domains of physical aggression and hostility were used to determine behavioral aggression while verbal aggression and anger corresponded to emotional aggression. Results are calculated on a scale of 0 to 1.

In order for music to be played continuously during examination, two aggressive songs and one longer relaxing song were used. Based on the violent lyrics study by Mast et al. (2011), the songs &ldquoAndrei the Pit Arlovski&rdquo (Freddy Madball & Jaysaun, 2011) and &ldquoReady for War&rdquo (50 cent, 2009) were chosen for their aggressive lyrics depicting violence, harsh language, and high musical stimulation from a fast tempo. Similar to the study by Bronnimann et al. (2011) which demonstrated that nature sounds helped to further alleviate stress, &ldquoShadows of White&rdquo (Liquid Mind, 1995), the yoga song, was chosen for its gentle nature sounds to promote perceptions of relaxation.

Procedure

Prior to administration of the questionnaire, participants were asked to close their eyes and listen to the selection of music for a minute. This allowed listeners to give full attention to the songs being played. Control group did not listen to anything and took the questionnaire immediately. After one minute of acoustic exposure, subjects were instructed to complete the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire (1992) while the selected genre of music continued to play in the background.

Music variables were manipulated in three levels, (1) yoga/relaxing music, (2) no music, and (3) rap/aggressive music. Group one listened to &ldquoShadows of White&rdquo (Liquid Mind, 1995). Group two had no acoustic stimulus and completed the questionnaire in silence. Group three listened to both &ldquoAndrei the Pit Arlovski&rdquo (Freddy Madball & Jaysaun, 2011) and &ldquoReady for War&rdquo (50 cent, 2009). Answers were entered into the Buss &Perry (1992) online tool for scoring (Available at http://psychology-tools.com/buss-perry-aggression-questionnaire).

Results

Two extremes of music genres were used to determine music&rsquos influence on aggression. A total of 75 participants (25 per group) were randomly assigned to one of three levels of acoustic stimuli (1) yoga/relaxing music, (2) control/no music, and (3) aggressive/rap music.

The Buss-Perry questionnaire was used to assess four levels of aggression, (1) physical aggression, (2) verbal aggression, (3) hostility, and (4) anger. An ANOVA and post &ndashhoc analysis (with Tukey&rsquos correction) was used to analyze the three levels of the independent variables (music stimuli) with the dependent variables (dimensions of aggression). An alpha level of p < .05 was used for all analyses.

Using a one-way ANOVA and post &ndashhoc analysis (with Tukey&rsquos correction), results indicated a significant difference among groups in verbal aggression, F (2, 72) =3.45, p < .05. Post-hoc analysis indicated that participants in the &ldquorap group&rdquo scored significantly higher in the dimension of verbal aggression (M =.56, SD=.23) when compared to the &ldquono music&rdquo group (M = .42 SD = .19).

The differences in verbal aggression between yoga group (M = .45, SD=.19) and no music (M = .42, SD=.19), and yoga group (M = .45, SD=.19) and rap group (M =.56, SD = .23) were not enough to be significant.

A one-way ANOVA and post &ndashhoc analysis (with Tukey&rsquos correction) indicated that the three groups did not demonstrate significant differences in physical aggression F (2, 72) =1.844, p > .05, anger F (2, 72) =1.710, p > .05, or hostility F (2, 72) =1.824, p > .05. Thus, no post-hoc analyses were conducted for the other three domains of aggression within groups.

Discussion

Overall, this present study was conducted to explore the effects of two extremes of music genres on emotional aggression and behavioral aggression among listeners. It was originally hypothesized that the group listening to relaxing yoga music would result in lower reported aggressions. Results indicated that the first hypothesis was not supported in this case due to no noticeable differences in reported aggression between the yoga group and the control group.

However, the data supported the second hypothesis aggressive music significantly increased a domain of aggression for the listeners in the rap group compared to the control. It is vital to note that music increased aggression only in the domains of verbal aggression. Neither the yoga nor control group had lyrical influences, so it is possible that the presence of violent lyrics in the rap group played a major factor in the differences of verbal aggression. Similar to the study by Mast and McAndrew (2011), the violent lyrics may have played a key role in participants exhibiting some form of aggression.

There was also a notable difference in verbal aggression between the rap group and yoga group, but not enough to be significant. Participants in the rap group also scored slightly higher in the domains of physical aggression and anger when compared to the other two groups, but the difference again was not enough to be significant.

Evidence from this study indicates that music may have some effect on emotion, depending on the genre. It is probable that the rap group rated themselves as more aggressive due aggressive lyrics, which activated similar areas in the brain that govern emotional and lingual processes (Besson, Chobert, and Marie, 2011). Music&rsquos activation of aggressive emotions may instigate aggressive perceptions and behaviors. Since Frith (2008) suggests music only provides listeners with an enjoyable perception of aggression in an artistic aspect, rather than inducing actual aggressive behavior, the Buss-Perry Questionnaire was used to isolate four types of aggression in two categories emotional aggression (anger and verbal aggression) and behavioral aggression (physical aggression and hostility).

Aggressive music led to a change in emotional aggression (assuming verbal aggression as a form of emotional aggression), rather than a change in behavioral aggression between the rap group and control. In contrast to Mast and McAndrew&rsquos (2011) observations where violent lyrics made listeners behave more aggressively, Frith&rsquos idea holds true in this present study since, there was no observable change in behavior. Since there was only an increase in the domain of verbal aggression for the rap group compared to the control, it is safe to suggest aggressive lyrics can make listeners more emotionally aggressive.

Music&rsquos activation of aggressive emotions may instigate aggressive perceptions and behaviors

For example, an avid listener of aggressive lyrics may not necessarily be more inclined to harm another person, but may have more of a tendency to utilize aggressive language. The idea that violent music can lead to change in aggressive behaviors is still debatable.

Attentional and memory cues may also have played a role in this study. When listening to music, fMRI scans show increased activity in the hippocampus (Levitin, 2006). The hippocampus is the area of the brain that is responsible for emotion regulation, memory retrieval, and behavior inhibitions. The neural processes that involve memory recall and emotional consolidation are closely tied together. Blood and Zatorre (2001) also noted similar activations in structures related to attention.

The survey often contained questions regarding the participant&rsquos past actions and behaviors. The presence of aggressive music might have directed attention towards aggressive emotions, leading to more vivid perceptions of aggressive memories. Similar to the study by Ehlert et al. (2012), where participants had a habit of matching music with emotions, subjects may have rated themselves to be more aggressive because of musical perceptions of aggression that cued aggressive emotions and memory.

it is possible that the rap group scored highest in verbal aggression for the following reasons: (1) aggressive music can stimulate listeners on a physiological level, increasing respiratory rate, blood pressure, and heart rate, possibly leading to a more unstable psyche, (2) listeners associated negative musical connotations, such as fast tempos and minor harmonic chords, with negative emotions, focusing their attention towards aggressive emotions and memory, or (3) exposure to aggressive lyrics led to activation of neural processes that consolidate perceptions of aggressive language and emotions.

The self-report method used to analyze aggression levels of participants was a limitation of this study. Generally, self-reports are not reliable in measuring aggression compared to other means. Completing a questionnaire in a social classroom setting instead of a real world setting may have also influenced the results. Future studies may want to benefit by utilizing other methods including physiological or behavioral observations when comparing music and emotion. Another limitation of this study was the narrow scope of demographics. The sample used in this study consisted of a convenient sample of younger college students. Expanding the study to other demographics with diverse tastes in music may yield different results.

it is still unclear whether music has a direct impact on emotional processes however, evidence from this present study suggests a strong relationship between listening to aggressive music and verbal aggression. It seems that the ancient Greco-Roman and European Romantic view of music was not too far off what was once thought as &ldquomagical&rdquo can now be understood as real changes on a psychological and physiological level. It appears that music does have the ability to aid and disrupt in the stabilization of the human psyche.

Research by Bronnimann et al. (2013) and Vaajoki et al. (2011) demonstrated how relaxing music can have profound effects on health, aiding in several physiological recoveries. On the other hand, results from the study by Mast et al. (2011) and this current study suggest that aggressive music can increase certain forms of aggression. The human psyche has a unique ability to synchronize external audio stimuli from music with certain emotions.

Future research may want to further explore this connection between emotions and music the same concepts that was once perceived as &ldquomagical.&rdquo Perhaps one day it would be possible to use music to regulate moods instead of resorting to drugs. Based on these studies, it is clear that music has a very unique effect on the body and mind. This connection should go on to be a continuous and intriguing research topic among scholars and scientists in the future.

References

Besson, M., Chobert, J., & Marie, C. (2011). Language and music in the musician brain. Language

and Linguistics Compass, 5, 617-634. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-818x2011.00302.x Blood, A.J., & Zatorre, R.J. (2001). Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion. The National Academy of Sciences, 98, 11818-11823. doi: 10.1073/pnas.191355898

Bronnimann, R., Ehlert, U., Finkel, L., Marca, M.V., Nater, U.M, R.L., & Thoma, M.V. (2013).

The Effect of music on the human stress response. PLoS ONE, 8, e70156. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070156

Brown, S. (2000). The &lsquoMusilanguage&rsquo model of music evolution. The Origins of Music, 271-301.

Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. P. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 452-459

Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. P. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Retrieved from http://psychology-tools.com/buss-perry-aggression-questionnaire/

Ehlert, U., Mohiyeddini, C., Nater, U.M., Ryf, S., & Thoma M.V. (2012). Emotion regulation through listening to music in everyday situations. Cognition & Emotion, 26, 550-560. doi:10.1080/02699931.2011.595390

Frith, S. (2008). Why does music make people so cross? Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 13, 64-69.doi: 10.1080/08098130409478098

Gebauer, L., & Kringelbach, M.L. (2012). Ever-changing cycles of music pleasure: The role of dopamine and anticipation. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 22, 152-167. doi: 10.1037/a0031126

Lazarus, R. S. (1999). Stress and emotion. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Levitin, D.J. (2006). This is your brain on music: The science of a human obsession. New York: Penguin Group.

Mast, F. J., McAndrew T. F. (2011) Violent lyrics in heavy music can increase aggression in males. North American Journal of Psychology, 13, 63-64.

Rose, J. P., & Bartsch, H. H. (2009). Music as therapy. Medicine and Music, 70, 5&ndash8.

Vaajoki, A., Kankkunen, P., Pietila, A., & Vehvilainen-Julkunen, K. (2011). Music as nursing invention: Effects of music on blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate in abdominal surgery patients. Nursing and Health Sciences, 13, 412-418. doi: 10.111/j.1442-2018.2011.00633.x

Yehuda, N. (2011). Music and stress. Journal of Adult Development, 18, 85-97. doi: 10.1007/s10804-010-9117-4

Besson, M., Chobert, J., & Marie, C. (2011). Language and music in the musician brain. Language

and Linguistics Compass, 5, 617-634. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-818x2011.00302.x Blood, A.J., & Zatorre, R.J. (2001). Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion. The National Academy of Sciences, 98, 11818-11823. doi: 10.1073/pnas.191355898

Bronnimann, R., Ehlert, U., Finkel, L., Marca, M.V., Nater, U.M, R.L., & Thoma, M.V. (2013).

The Effect of music on the human stress response. PLoS ONE, 8, e70156. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070156

Brown, S. (2000). The &lsquoMusilanguage&rsquo model of music evolution. The Origins of Music, 271-301.

Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. P. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 452-459

Buss, A. H., & Perry, M. P. (1992). The aggression questionnaire. Retrieved from http://psychology-tools.com/buss-perry-aggression-questionnaire/

Ehlert, U., Mohiyeddini, C., Nater, U.M., Ryf, S., & Thoma M.V. (2012). Emotion regulation through listening to music in everyday situations. Cognition & Emotion, 26, 550-560. doi:10.1080/02699931.2011.595390

Frith, S. (2008). Why does music make people so cross? Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 13, 64-69.doi: 10.1080/08098130409478098

Gebauer, L., & Kringelbach, M.L. (2012). Ever-changing cycles of music pleasure: The role of dopamine and anticipation. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 22, 152-167. doi: 10.1037/a0031126

Lazarus, R. S. (1999). Stress and emotion. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Levitin, D.J. (2006). This is your brain on music: The science of a human obsession. New York: Penguin Group.

Mast, F. J., McAndrew T. F. (2011) Violent lyrics in heavy music can increase aggression in males. North American Journal of Psychology, 13, 63-64.

Rose, J. P., & Bartsch, H. H. (2009). Music as therapy. Medicine and Music, 70, 5&ndash8.

Vaajoki, A., Kankkunen, P., Pietila, A., & Vehvilainen-Julkunen, K. (2011). Music as nursing invention: Effects of music on blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate in abdominal surgery patients. Nursing and Health Sciences, 13, 412-418. doi: 10.111/j.1442-2018.2011.00633.x

Yehuda, N. (2011). Music and stress. Journal of Adult Development, 18, 85-97. doi: 10.1007/s10804-010-9117-4

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Comments:

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  3. Princeton

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  4. Kalevi

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