Taylor Swift ‘Tortured Poets Department’ and when lyrics trigger you


Ever since “Teardrops on My Guitar,” Taylor Swift has been known to tickle and pluck our hearts. But with the new album ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ she is not just picking and pulling. She tears up. To cut. Shred.

A selection: “So I jump from the gallows and float down your street.” “I could just die, it wouldn’t make a difference / Bad, wake up in blood.” “Oh, what a way to die/My sheets are on fire/I screamed his name/Building like waves crashing over my grave.”

If any of the above – or other texts – are triggering for you in some way, you are not alone. Experts suggest numerous methods for dealing with music-induced illnesses, from exposure therapy to seeking formal mental health care to avoiding music altogether if necessary.

That said, this is Swift we’re talking about. Her music will be inevitable. “There will probably be times when you can’t control the music,” says Amy Morin, psychotherapist, author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” and podcast host. “If you’re in an Uber, shopping in a store, or eating in a restaurant, you can’t control the music. In those cases, it’s helpful to have another strategy to help you cope.”

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Music should make you feel something. “People need to understand that music is connected to memories, and memories are connected to emotions,” says Kevin Chapman, founder and director of the Kentucky Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. It represents nostalgia, negative and positive life experiences, people, places and things.

Combine that with Swift’s particular talent for songwriting, and the authenticity will sink from the depths of your eardrums into your soul. “One thing about Taylor Swift’s music is that it has become kind of synonymous with what it means to experience authentic American music in the sense that she is a songwriter,” said Melvin L. Williams, associate professor of communication studies at Pace University. “She composes her music, and she’s very much with the pen, both literally and figuratively, of how it all comes together, which gives a level of authenticity that ranges from artists who don’t write their music.”

That authenticity, however, can be painful for the listener, especially on the track “loml,” where “she really demonstrates her powerful gift for illustrating the nuanced emotions of heartbreak and the ways in which they truly resemble death.”

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If you’re going through it, take a moment and accept “the fact that these emotions, even though they are painful, exist,” Williams says.

But “don’t judge your emotional experience when it’s triggered,” Chapman adds. “In other words, if I’ve had a traumatic experience, and it’s triggered by music and songs that remind me of that traumatic event, it’s important to recognize that things like anger, sadness, disgust, fear, and those emotions are at the core serve an adaptive purpose.” It’s okay to feel your feelings… but take a step back when you need to.

Try distracting yourself, Morin suggests, or come up with a plan for when a triggering song starts playing.

“The simplest yet effective thing you can do,” says Chase Cassine, licensed clinical social worker, “is to breathe first when you take deep breaths. It helps reduce anxiety, re-center yourself and let the brain know that you are not in a dangerous situation. situation, but actually in a safe space.”

And “if you were scared, do something that brings you peace, like praying, taking a walk, listening to nature sounds, or listening to your favorite comedian,” says psychologist Renée Carr.

“You can also try exposure therapy to make a song less triggering,” says Morin. “Listening to a song over and over again can take away from the impact it has on you. But if you have PTSD or a mental health problem, you may want to talk to a licensed professional to help you with this.”

Chapman adds, “Binge listening, listening too much to certain music when I don’t understand its therapeutic nature, will be problematic and likely to backfire.”

But all in all, Swift gave her emotionally available audience a gift. To, as Williams says, “really see what the other side looks like, in terms of overcoming (pain) and ultimately getting to the other side.”

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