reports today that Goth subculture may protect vulnerable children
. A small psychological study recently done in the UK seems to indicate that kids who like to harm themselves (either via attempting suicide or cutting or other forms of self-abuse) are much LESS likely to do so once they become involved in the goth subculture, which is completely antithetical to the common notion (and the strange results of a related study done in Glasgow
) that goths are more likely
to be the type to harm themselves.
According to Robert Young, who led the study, the results "suggest[s] that young people with a tendency to self-harm are attracted to the goth subculture"--BUT, he adds: "Rather than posing a risk, it's also possible that by belonging to the goth subculture, young people are gaining valuable social and emotional support from their peers." This explains why, of the young folks who admitted harming themselves in various ways, many of them stopped
when they turned goth. Young is, of course, quick to add that the study represented only a small number of young people to begin with (1258, to be precise), and that only 25% of those interviewed identified themselves strongly with our subculture.
However, the evidence does
suggest the validity of something I've long thought likely: that the goth subculture (like all subcultures, really) can provide a welcoming environment of peers for folks--of all ages, really--who otherwise "don't fit in" with the usual crowds, and can probably help some people grow out of damaging behaviors that they fell into because of being ostracized, disliked, and so forth by peers with whom they didn't relate. It's a really simple matter, actually: when one is feeling dejected and alone, it only makes sense that finding a community of folks with similar ideals and interests can make one feel better. Of course, it can just as easily lead to finding one's own bad habits and whatnot reinforced by others with similar bad habits, but...hell, that's typical of all
social groups. You'll always find potential for both good and bad in any
kind of social interaction.
I find the little "explanation" of the goth subculture at the end of the article to be kind of interesting, as well:
The 1980s goth culture grew out of the post-Punk movement and underwent a revival in the mid-1990s. Central to goth belief is the black aesthetic – taking icons that society regards as evil, such as skull imagery, and making them beautiful.
Good call, guys! The authors of this article have, for once, identified that a central characteristic of gothicism is a shared aesthetic, not
a shared lifestyle. My contention for years has been that there's no such thing as a goth "lifestyle," but that the subculture exists primarily through a shared aesthetic--a common love of spookity literature, music with lots of reverb, and cheap black velvet!