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The Effects of Rock’n’Roll on Psychology

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Rock’n’roll and psychology intersect. What value do rock and psychology have on the modern landscape? 

Have You Seen a Pigeon Fly? is my film about a human psychological catastrophe in 2091, affecting all people on the planet. I employ the rock songs of my brother, Jack Tivoli, to help tell the story. 

I grew up with Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin‘ and Janis Joplin’s Me and Bobby McGee when the hippy culture promised much. But what effect did music have on me in the 1960s and 1970s? 

I also grew up with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Freud taught me the powerful effects of family interplays and Jung taught me how archetypes shape our lives. But what use have they been for me in getting to the heart of my problems?

Well, let’s begin this discussion with overestimating and underestimating because rock and psychology have their limits.  

Let’s say that both helped me get through life to some degree or other. To hear Lulu sing To Sir with Love or the Beatles sing The Long and Winding Road kind of helped with the pain of life. It just felt good listening to them and it was as if the songs came from deep in the heart.

At one stage last year I couldn’t stop watching YouTube with Britain’s Got Talent, and seeing Josh Daniel sing Labrinth’s Jealous broke me up, as Simon Cowell sat in his chair overwhelmed. Josh had hit a nerve deep within my psyche and his delivery seemed profound. 

And then there are musicals like The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer and A Star is Born with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

So, what value do these performances and writing have on us?

On the other hand, in my twenties, Freud and Jung’s concepts seemed too difficult to get my head around, even though a small number of their ideas filtered through. To some extent, these may have assisted me to face myself and others around me. It wasn’t until later that I was ready to plough through their vast material and I have to report they did help. They definitely helped me plumb the depths of my own traumatic childhood through ‘inner child therapy’ where I had to meet the frightened child within me to help him grieve his wounds. That experience turned my life around and set me on a positive path. That is for sure.  

As I was writing this article I did the unthinkable. I googled the latest psychology theories and coming up on one site were seven main theories such as psychodynamic, behavioural, cognitive, biological, cross-cultural, evolutionary, and humanistic. Psychology is a universe in itself. You could spend a lifetime studying it because the mind is so complex and it may be argued it is beyond human understanding. 

In my film, I have had a go at combining rock’n’roll with what I’ve learnt about psychology so that I could hopefully speak about trauma in the twenty-first century. My desire is that it will stimulate discussion about alternative visions for future generations who will have to carry what my generation has left behind in terms of depression, violence, and climate change.

Have I asked too much?

Vincent Tivoli is a mental health advocate.

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