Catharsis

The question arises why I listen to such sad music.  I’m not that sad of a guy really, but my favorite songs historically have always been very sad ones.  Currently I love Bon Iver and his whole first album is written in Wisconsin winter after a traumatic a break-up.  It’s sad stuff.  See my wife’s blog (linked to the right there) Quality and Clean, for a nice review.  Here’s a good example:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePatJIwB-sI&feature=related

So again, why does a pretty un-sad, generally happy guy listen to such sad music.  I think it’s catharsis at play here.  There’s a nice Wikipedia article about the idea of catharsis and the controversy surrounding it, but I’m using it in the sense of the word that I learned from high school english:  a release of pent-up emotional energy.  How much tragedy can one happy guy face without starting to feel sad all the time?  The degree of tragedy faced in my profession may not be as bad as some others but near the top I’d say.  Last week: a patient of mine committed suicide, followed by her husband the next day.  Tragedy.  Last week: low functioning mother with poor parenting skills leaves her abusive husband, her two boys are failing out of school.  Tragedy.  New years eve: I shipped a baby to Boise that was 20 hours old and vomiting bile, it could die, Happy New Year!  (The baby has done fine, had surgery this week.)  Sometimes I think I should charge patient’s by how much I make them cry, I’d probably make more money that way then how our countries current payment system works. 

So perhaps by listening to the sad music it helps keep me from bursting out in tears while I’m at work.  That would be pretty awkward.  I’m the tear jerker not the tear shedder.  I mostly listen to music at while driving home from work and perhaps that helps insulate my wife from my the sadness that could build beyond the confines of what a normal person could tolerate.  Maybe I’m a ticking sadness time bomb ready to blow…..or maybe I just like sad music.

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Published in: on February 12, 2010 at 7:13 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. As someone who cares about you i hate that you have to go through these experiences.

    As someone who knows you, of course, i know you are just the right man for the job.

    And as a pastor i know you want to continue to pursue this line of thought. you don’t want to be a ticking time bomb of anything and the only safeguard is self reflection.

    And i like sad songs too, and angry ones. i no longer like sad movies/tv though… not sure why, something to do with being a dad.

  2. I agree, listening to sad music somehow helps to get it out. Its like listening to it feels like we are expressing it too.


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