Psychologists say Eminem's Stan has a lot to teach us about mental ill health

Psychologists say Eminem's Stan has a lot to teach us about mental ill health

Psychologists from HIP HOP PSYCH - a group using "hip-hop" to encourage conversation on mental health - have now brought the song to light to educate many of the different stages and signs of mental illnesses.

With the sudden and much-required spreading of awareness surrounding mental health, comes the reminder of Eminem's famed song, 'Stan.'

Eminem, renowned for his multi-syllabic rhyming and vivid storytelling writes of his personal experiences growing up in a poor family. 'Stan' a song in the rapper's third album 'The Marshall Mathers LP' from 2000 is one of his most famous songs and is still heard on repeat.

Psychologists from HIP HOP PSYCH - a group using "hip-hop" to encourage conversation on mental health - have now brought the song to light to educate many of the different stages and signs of mental illnesses.

The song tells the story of Stan, a die-hard fan of Eminem's alter ego, "Slim Shady." Over the course of the song, if one pays attention to the lyrics and the depicted official video of the released song, one can notice the rapid downfall of his mental health. 

In this song too, Eminem does what he does best - storytelling. Underlying the story lies a deeper message of how to tackle those suffering from mental health. Psychologists have analyzed the song to depict how Stan's early childhood neglect and inflicted trauma could potentially have proved to be hazardous to his health resulting in chemical changes in his brain that makes him less able to cope with stress and nurture relationships. 

Stan shows first few signs of suffering. (Youtube)

However, it is important to keep in mind that while violent acts are often an end result of those suffering from mental health problems they do not ALWAYS mean that the guilty is mentally ill.

Thus signifying that mentally ill patients should not be disregarded from society as a dangerous criminal but should be showered with love, counseling, and care - so that they heal and recover. 

On analyzing Stan's character as if he were to exist, psychologists think he might have suffered from an "emotionally unstable personality disorder of the borderline type as evidenced by self-harm, overdose, fear of abandonment, chronic emptiness, self-image and sexual identity issues and impulsivity," Daily Mail reported.

In the first verse of the song, Stan is considered to be in the first stage of his disease. He comes across as a devoted fan of Slim Shady, but what is alarming and might be telling of his suffering is his comparison of Stan's friend's suicide and the suicide of Slim Shady's uncle.

The fact that Stan chooses to include this is in his letter to Slim Shady shows that he is discussing his weakness or lows of life. This should be a good enough sign and stage to provide attention to Stan, so he further opens about his frustrations around the suicide. 

This scene shows how Stan is unable to handle intimate relationships. (Youtube)

However, in the song, Stan gets no response from Slim Shady drawing a parallel to real-life life sufferers who receive no response from those they seek attention. Their condition worsen and so does Stan's. He starts his second verse saying that he isn't mad at Slim Shady for keeping quiet, but the tone of the rest of the letter including the words he uses shows otherwise. This is a clear sign of denying or the unacceptance of negative emotions such as frustration or anger. Allowing for these emotions to build up inside you by denying their existence can be hazardous to your mental health. 

Stan once again compares his growing up with Slim Shady's but not in a positive light - but in the unfortunate circumstances of domestic abuse, they both might have shared. This acknowledgment of a troubled childhood is another vital sign of mentally suffering. 

Stan shows signs of despair and depression (Youtube)

Psychologists from HIP HOP PSYCH say that Stan might have experienced an insecure attachment and relationship with his parents.

"This attachment happens during a 'critical period' between the ages of six months and two, and enables the child to create a working blueprint for future relationships.

Early adverse experiences that affect this attachment can create insecure future relationships by altering oxytocin levels (the 'love' and 'trust' hormone) in the child (and their primary caregiver).

Oxytocin enables people to relate to emotions and read social cues from others. Disruptions to this hormone could partly explain why Stan alienates himself from his partner and feels betrayed by Slim Shady."

When Stan writes about allowing himself to get a "sudden rush" and indulge in some "adrenaline," he is referring to how those suffering from mental health problems self-medicate to feel better. 

In Stan's third and last letter to Slim Shady, his anger at apparently being betrayed heightens and he acknowledges to resenting his once idol in his reference to him ripping pictures of Slim Shady off his wall.

Psychologists explain this behavior saying, "This turnaround may reflect 'splitting', a psychological phenomenon developed by psychoanalyst Ronald Fairbairn in which a person fails to come to terms with the positive and negative sides of themselves and others."

Eventually, Stan gives in to his aggression, ties his pregnant girlfriend in the trunk of his car, drinks and drives. He blames his situation on Slim Shady and wishes to watch him repent for his apparent mistakes.

Whether or not it his intention, he drives off the bridge, kills himself, his partner and their unborn child. "The scene ends with Stan's realization that his recorded message to Slim Shady might not reach him, again reflecting impulsivity and an inability to think ahead."

Stan minutes before he ends his life. (Youtube)

This depicts the last and the irreparable stage of mental illness where the patient has no one to seek help from and takes his health into his own hands. The psychologists conclude stating that, "Stan is a channel for dissecting issues relating to mental health and we stress again that it is not to attribute violence to the mass majority of those who deal with mental health issues." 

Scroll further to acquaint yourself with the lyrics of "Stan"- 

[Verse 1: Eminem (as Stan)]

Dear Slim, I wrote you, but you still ain't callin'

I left my cell, my pager and my home phone at the bottom

I sent two letters back in autumn, you must not've got 'em

There probably was a problem at the post office or somethin'

Sometimes I scribble addresses too sloppy when I jot 'em

But anyways, f*** it, what's been up, man? How's your daughter?

My girlfriend's pregnant too, I'm 'bout to be a father

If I have a daughter, guess what I'ma call her?

I'ma name her Bonnie

I read about your Uncle Ronnie too, I'm sorry

I had a friend kill himself over some b**** who didn't want him

I know you probably hear this every day, but I'm your biggest fan

I even got the underground s*** that you did with Skam

I got a room full of your posters and your pictures, man

I like the s*** you did with Rawkus too, that s*** was phat

Anyways, I hope you get this, man, hit me back

Just to chat, truly yours, your biggest fan, this is Stan 

[Verse 2: Eminem (as Stan)]

Dear Slim, you still ain't called or wrote, I hope you have a chance

I ain't mad, I just think it's f***** up you don't answer fans

If you didn't want to talk to me outside the concert

You didn't have to

But you coulda signed an autograph for Matthew

That's my little brother, man, he's only six years old

We waited in the blisterin' cold

For you, for four hours, and you just said no

That's pretty s*****, man, you're like his f****** idol

He wants to be just like you, man, he likes you more than I do

I ain't that mad though, I just don't like being lied to

Remember when we met in Denver?

You said if I'd write you, you would write back

See, I'm just like you in a way: I never knew my father neither

He used to always cheat on my mom and beat her

I can relate to what you're sayin' in your songs

So when I have a s***** day, I drift away and put 'em on

‘Cause I don't really got s*** else

So that s*** helps when I'm depressed

I even got a tattoo of your name across the chest

Sometimes I even cut myself to see how much it bleeds

It's like adrenaline, the pain is such a sudden rush for me

See, everything you say is real, and I respect you ‘cause you tell it

My girlfriend's jealous ‘cause I talk about you 24/7

But she don't know you like I know you, Slim, no one does

She don't know what it was like for people like us growin' up

You gotta call me, man

I'll be the biggest fan you'll ever lose, sincerely yours, Stan

P.S. We should be together too

[Verse 3: Eminem (as Stan)]

Dear Mr. I'm-Too-Good-to-Call-or-Write-My-Fans

This'll be the last package I ever send your a**

It's been six months, and still no word — I don't deserve it?

I know you got my last two letters

I wrote the addresses on 'em perfect

So this is my cassette I'm sendin' you, I hope you hear it

I'm in the car right now, I'm doin' 90 on the freeway

Hey, Slim, I drank a fifth of vodka, you dare me to drive?

You know the song by Phil Collins, 'In the Air of the Night'

About that guy who coulda saved that other guy from drownin'

But didn't, then Phil saw it all, then at a show he found him?

That's kinda how this is: you coulda rescued me from drownin'

Now it's too late, I'm on a thousand downers now, I'm drowsy

And all I wanted was a lousy letter or a call

I hope you know I ripped all of your pictures off the wall

I loved you, Slim, we coulda been together — think about it!

You ruined it now, I hope you can't sleep and you dream about it

And when you dream I hope you can't sleep

And you scream about it; I hope your conscience eats at you

And you can't breathe without me

See, Slim— shut up, b****! I'm tryin' to talk

Hey, Slim, that's my girlfriend screamin' in the trunk

But I didn't slit her throat, I just tied her up, see I ain't like you

‘Cause if she suffocates she'll suffer more and then she'll die too

Well, gotta go, I'm almost at the bridge now

Oh s***, I forgot, how am I supposed to send this s*** out?!

[Verse 4: Eminem]

Dear Stan, I meant to write you sooner, but I just been busy

You said your girlfriend's pregnant now, how far along is she?

Look, I'm really flattered you would call your daughter that

And here's an autograph

For your brother; I wrote it on a Starter cap

I'm sorry I didn't see you at the show, I musta missed you

Don't think I did that s*** intentionally just to diss you

But what's this s*** you said about you like to cut your wrists too?

I say that s*** just clownin', dawg, come on, how f***** up is you?

You got some issues, Stan, I think you need some counselin'

To help your a** from bouncin'

Off the walls when you get down some

And what's this s*** about us meant to be together?

That type of s*** will make me not want us to meet each other

I really think you and your girlfriend need each other

Or maybe you just need to treat her better

I hope you get to read this letter

I just hope it reaches you in time

Before you hurt yourself, I think that you'll be doin' just fine

If you relax a little, I'm glad I inspire you, but Stan

Why are you so mad? Try to understand

That I do want you as a fan

I just don't want you to do some crazy s***

I seen this one s*** on the news

A couple weeks ago that made me sick

Some dude was drunk and drove his car over a bridge

And had his girlfriend in the trunk

And she was pregnant with his kid

And in the car they found a tape, but they didn't say who it was to

Come to think about it, his name was… it was you, damn

Source: RapGenius 

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