Murder Behind the Music: The Psychology of Backmasking by L@mbo Lim

Backmasking in music is a technique made popular in the Beatles, 1966 album Revolver. After the conspiracy was presented that Paul McCartney died in a car crash and was replaced by a impersonator; it was believed backmasking was used to tell the tale. Backward messages such as, “turn me on dead man,” hinted to the fact that the real Paul McCartney was dead. Later this technique was used as a form of censorship. To some religious organizations it’s seen as Satanic. Although many arguments can be made about backmasking; today I want to discuss the psychological effects of backmasking.
Backmasking is the technique of purposely putting messages into music that can only be heard when played backwards. This technique is thought to have effects on the subconscious mind, and make people make unconscious decisions. For example, there have been many instances in which people committed murder and used music as the blame. Marilyn Manson’s music was blamed for the Columbine Massacre. Angry parents believed their children’s love of Manson’s music forced them to carry out violent fantasies. Many media outlets blamed Manson’s music for encouraging violence. Lyrics back masked in songs such as, Dope Hat, were revealed to say, “I’m gonna kill you, I’m gonna kill you, kill yourself, kill yourself.” We’re thought to have given the Columbine killers incentives to kill because subliminal messages caused unconscious decisions. 

Many psychologist, such as Mark D. Allen, a professor at Brigham Young University, believes this theory is impossible. I believe rhythms can effect mood, but blaming music on murder is a scapegoat. Music is not hypnosis, it does not put you in a trance. Although, different rhythms can trigger emotions, such as happy, sad, angry, etc.. When it becomes overwhelming you conscious mind will say turn it off. The subconscious is only effective in dreams. For example, listening to a song such as, Manson’s Dope Hat, may cause you to have a bad dream. However, the subconscious cannot make a conscious decision such as, murder. On the other hand, people should be conscious of the effect music has on mood. If music is altering your feelings it may not be a good idea to it because negative emotions promote stress.

Music is a release, especially when we believe we can identify with the song. Music should be used as entertainment, not consumption. Anything a person lets consume them is unhealthy. In ending remember the subconscious cannot make conscious decisions. Also remember music alters the mood; therefore, listen wisely.