Culture,  News

Man gets disability benefits for heavy metal addiction

A 42-year old Swedish man named Roger Tullgren has successfully lobbied his government to get his obsession with heavy metal music classified as a disability. You’re going to have to read this to believe it:

Because heavy metal dominates so many aspects of his life, the Employment Service has agreed to pay part of Tullgren’s salary. His new boss meanwhile has given him a special dispensation to play loud music at work.

“I have been trying for ten years to get this classified as a handicap,” Tullgren told The Local.

“I spoke to three psychologists and they finally agreed that I needed this to avoid being discriminated against.”

Roger Tullgren first developed an interest in heavy metal when his older brother came home with a Black Sabbath album in 1971.

Since then little else has mattered for the 42-year-old, who has long black hair, a collection of tattoos and wears skull and crossbones jewelry.

The ageing rocker claims to have attended almost three hundred shows last year, often skipping work in the process.

Eventually his last employer tired of his absences and Tullgren was left jobless and reliant on welfare handouts.

But his sessions with the occupational psychologists led to a solution of sorts: Tullgren signed a piece of paper on which his heavy metal lifestyle was classified as a disability, an assessment that entitles him to a wage supplement from the job centre.

Well, this is the therapeutic culture run amok. If you think this is far-fetched and could never happen in the good old USA, think again. This is what happens when character flaws are treated as illnesses to be cured and not as immorality to be repented of.

There is a grown man in California named Stanley Thornton who received social security benefits for a “disability” called “adult baby syndrome.” Meaning, he likes to drink from a bottle, wear giant onesies, and sit in an adult-sized high chair.

I’m not saying that there aren’t legitimate mental health issues that might warrant some help from the government. But when every vice becomes a “syndrome,” moral accountability flies out of the window. This is a trend in the post-Christian West, and it is the kind of foolishness that over time undermines a civilization.

See also:

Harry Bradford, “Roger Tullgren Says His Heavy Metal Addiction Gets Him Disability Payments” (Huffington Post)


  • Lauren Bertrand

    What a smart way to introduce what I suspect will be an increasingly salient issue, particularly in this culture in which it seems like a preponderance of the population wants to classify itself among the persecuted victims.

    Denny’s delineation of “illnesses” versus “character flaws” is particularly relevant to me, having had a close relative who suffered a few years of substance abuse problems. She at last sought treatment, first in the form of a for-profit treatment center that literally BOASTED of its 8% success rate (most competing agencies have a success rate of only 2 or 3%). But this for-profit treatment center clearly used contemporary psychology to classify drug addicts as people with “diseases” who need treatment (i.e., more drugs, like methadone). The organization smothered its patients with pity but never once made them feel responsible for their illnesses. Needless to say, the low success rate was unsurprising, and it failed for my relative as well. She relapsed a few weeks after completing the program.

    Then she went to a non-profit, Evangelical treatment center that clearly acknowledged the sinful behavior that brought about this addiction. This organization endorsed treatment through Scripture, and through its patients committing their lives to Christ over many, many months. But it never tried to turn the patients into victims; they were responsible for their current conditions. The success rate here was much, much higher (closer to 50%) than those money-making treatment centers. It worked for my cousin, and though she never really bought into Evangelical theology, she has a tremendous respect for the efficacy of the approach, as do I.

    I’ve articulated my strong differences with Evangelicalism on this blog multiple times, but I continue to host a profound respect for the movement’s adherence to personal responsibility to overcome behavioral shortcomings. (What constitutes “behavioral shortcomings” will probably remain a point upon which most Evangelicals and moderates disagree.) Sweden (and Scandinavia in general) seems to lack this culture altogether, resulting in a dogged insistence on egalitarianism that manifests itself in a society where nobody is particularly responsible for anything. Yet the American Left still mythologies Scandinavia as a paradigm in the same way the Christian Conservatives mythologize 1950s America (before feminism, civil rights, and the hippie movement). Neither one has it right. There is no model society currently functioning on this planet–heaven has never existed on earth.

    Denny’s fear that an American version of Roger Tullgren is right around the corner certainly doesn’t seem as farfetched as it might have just six or seven years ago.

    • James Bradshaw

      Much of the misery of my youth was self-imposed. I was not as much a “victim” as perhaps I would have liked to have believed at the time. I’m not denying that many psychological issues can be the result of serious abuse at the hands of others, but your post underscores the fact that much of our suffering can only be alleviated by a reworking of our own character.

      I found the books of M Scott Peck informative and helpful in this regard (both The Road Less Traveled and The People of the Lie).

    • Chris Ryan

      This country needs much more mental health treatment. If we treated 5 Heavy Metal addicts for every 20 Adam Lanzas I’d gladly make that deal. How many mass shootings in the past few years have been committed by mentally ill ppl? Adam Lanza, Jared Loughner, the Aurora shooter, the Navy Yard shooter.

      I think Lauren make a good point that liberals focus too much on society & not enough on the individual. That being said, my experiences with my mother give me some pause. After a bad car accident 8yrs ago my mother’s DR prescribed her Vicodin–and kept her on it for 8 yrs. No one in the family knew that Vicodin was an opiate & highly addictive. My mother developed an intense addiction without even realizing it. The ironic thing is that she’s a tea totaler. She’s always had an aversion to pharmaceuticals. This meant that she has avoided even allergy meds b/cs of the link b/tn pseudophedrine & methamphetamine. But an Oxycotin or Vicodin addiction doesn’t look like a “typical” addiction & doesn’t lead to ppl acting ‘drunk’ or ‘high’ so her addiction took everyone, including herself, by surprise. I’ve spent the last 7 mos trying to help her break it & its a daily fight.

      So IMO in this country when it comes to mental illness we need to concentrate on loving the victim & not blaming the victim. If there’s anything we should learn from the death of Rick Warren’s son its that lots of ppl in this country are hurting & we need to exercise more compassion & less judgment.

    • Andy Moffat

      I wondered that too. I’m the same age as this fellow but can’t claim my sister induced dependence on Billy Joel and Supertramp began any earlier than about age 7 (1978).

    • Lorenzo Brundard

      You never forget your first Sabbath experience! (also, this Huffpo story is over a year old, and his claim predates that. No idea why it’s being posted about now).

      • Jane Dunn

        Actually, the story in Denny’s first link above is even older — from June 2007, about 6.5 years ago, which makes Tullgren 48 or 49 today. Not only that, a quick Google search found 2 newer articles, including 1 from a Swedish (Eng. lang.) newspaper last year after the HuffPo story ran. Both papers quoted Tullgren last year as stating that the government had stopped the payments in Jan. ’12 (2 yrs ago now) and as wondering why this story kept getting recirculated.

        And, the “baby” guy has had his Soc. Sec. disability claim investigated at the request of Sen. Tom Coburn, which IMHO is scarier than the disability payments themselves, and the SSA verified that several significant mental illnesses were legimately diagnosed.

        So, don’t worry folks. It’s only the end of the year, not the end of the world.

        Plus, Obamacare now lets parents keep their kids on their insurance plans, which must include mental health parity (treating mental health coverage the same as regular physical health coverage), through the kid’s mid-20’s when serious problems like schizophrenia first begin to manifest.

        Fear not! Happy New Year!

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