A Psychological Analysis Of Miley Cyrus’ Lyrics

[A note from the future: this was written when the media/internet/world at large was hand-wringing over one of Miley’s scandals – not sure which – and finding ‘signs’ and ‘clues’ in everything she did to explain why they thought she was going off the deep end. Our opinion was that she was being young and living her life, albeit in a bit more loose-and-wacky way than we did at her age. The post below was sort of a parody of the over-the-top analysis that was all over the news that month.]

As a person who minored in psychology, and majored in teen pop culture, I am, I think, marginally qualified to analyze Miley Cyrus not qualified to do anything. Now, some of you may suggest that I look to Miley’s life decisions, like her engagement and major bleach-and-chop, to figure out what’s going on in Ms. Destiny Hope’s head. But I’d rather take the words straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and look to Cyrus’s song lyrics.

See You Again:

“I’ve got a heart that will never be tamed” – Miley has a cardiac condition and does not believe that treatment is available. If she is speaking metaphorically, then she does not abide by convention and thinks that trying to do so would be futile. “Never tamed” may refer to an impulse control disorder or, at the least, attentional difficulties. Like, she may have adult ADD/ADHD. Sidebar, I tried to take an adult ADD test online, then quit paying attention midway through.

“I feel like I must have known you in another life” – Miley  belongs to a faith system that espouses reincarnation. Participation in religious activities can be a protective factor for teens, so good on you, Miles! However, schizoid disorders often manifest in the early twenties, but are not unheard of in teens. Cyrus might just be delusional.

“The last time I freaked out/ I just kept looking down/ I stuttered when you asked me what I’m thinking about” – Miley appears to be suffering from a nervous break. She may have an anxiety disorder, although her inability to make eye contact could also indicate interpersonal difficulties. Contrary to popular opinion, stuttering is not classed as a nervous disorder or necessarily associated with psychological trauma. However, the behavior may manifest more frequently in times of stress.

“Felt like I couldn’t breathe/ You asked what’s wrong with me/ My best friend Leslie said “Oh she’s just being Miley”” – Miley appears to be suffering from what is commonly called a “panic attack,” meeting at least a few of the diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV. It is encouraging that she identifies Leslie as her “best friend,” as teens with positive social support usually have better outcomes than those without. The explanation that “she’s just being Miley” may indicate that Leslie accepts Miley’s quirks — however, she may also be trying to belittle Miley by using “relational aggression.” That is, she’s manipulating interpersonal relationships to hurt Miley’s self-esteem or social standing. See, e.g., Mean Girls.

“I got this crazy feeling deep inside/ When you called and asked to see me tomorrow night/ I’m not a mind reader but I’m reading the signs” — Miley believes that she has supernatural abilities. These delusions of grandeur may point to a narcissistic personality disorder. The fact that Miley can identify a “crazy feeling deep inside” might show that she is self aware.  In psychological terms, this may also be evidence that deep inside, she is crazy.

The take-away: Miley appears to be suffering from a panic attack, and may also have trouble controlling impulses. She may or may not be Buddhist. It’s possible that Miley has a social anxiety disorder. Leslie might be a bitch. Does anyone know if they’re still best friends?

7 Things:

“I probably shouldn’t say this/  But at times I get so scared/  When I think about the previous/ Relationship we shared”: Miley is a self-aware young lady who is expressing her fears, but there is a recurring theme of anxiety appearing. I hope the “previous relationships” isn’t that past life shit again.

“It was awesome but we lost it/  It’s not possible for me not to care”: Emotional detachment has a number of causes, from psychological trauma to borderline personality disorder. I’m going to go with BPD on this one, though. Pretty commonly diagnosed (some say over-diagnosed) in young women.

“It’s awkward and silent/ As I wait for you to say/ What I need to hear now/ Your sincere apology” Cyrus really feels awkward a lot, doesn’t she? Not to worry – again, feelings of social discomfort and low self-esteem are very typical in her social cohort! Maybe she feels awkward because she has a speech disorder, because “say” and “apology” don’t usually rhyme, but somehow she makes that happen.

The take-away: Miley is very good at expressing negative feelings, which is actually a good thing – repressing negative affect can have terrible consequences. She is really exhibiting some rebellious behavior here, though – the entire song is plagiarized from Kat’s poem at the end of 10 Things I Hate About You. Badass, Miles. Badass.

Party In The USA:

“I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan/ Welcome to the land of fame, excess, whoa am I gotta fit in?” Miley is insecure about finding a social group — again, very, very common concern of middle- and upper-class female teens. She is cold, but not like, jacket-cold.

“My tummy’s turnin’ and I’m feelin’ kinda homesick /Too much pressure and I’m nervous/ That’s when the taxi man turned on the radio/ And the Jay-Z song was on” Cyrus is experiencing a psychosomatic reaction to stress. Although “homesickness” is completely normal, this may also be a sign that Miley is too young to be without a familial support system. Fortunately, she finds a positive outlet in music. Unfortunately, she seems to place a great value on monetary success: while she refers to a popular rapper by name, the man driving her around is relegated to status as “taxi man,” defined by his profession.

“So I put my hands up, they’re playin’ my song/ The butterflies fly away I’m noddin’ my head like “Yeah!” /Movin’ my hips like “Yeah!”/ Got my hands up, they’re playin’ my song / And now I’m gonna be okay / Yeah! It’s a party in the USA! / Yeah! It’s a party in the USA!” Dancing, a form of exercise, provides an endorphin release. Miley responds in the affirmative. There is a party, and that party is in the United States. So is Miley.

Get to the club in my taxi cab/ Everybody’s lookin’ at me now /Like “Who’s that chick that’s rockin’ kicks She’s gotta be from out of town”/ So hard with my girls not around me / It’s definitely not a Nashville party  / ‘Cause all I see are stilettos / I guess I never got the memo: The feeling of everyone looking at her could be early manifestation of schizophrenia or narcissistic personality disorder, as discussed above. However, it is much more likely that Miley is feeling self-conscious. Totally fine. It is “so hard when [her] girls aren’t around” because the peer group is an important social support for young adults. Plus, girlfriend wore the wrong shoes and maybe someone could have told her.

Feel like hoppin’ on a flight, on a flight / Back to my hometown tonight, town tonight  / Something stops me every time, every time / The DJ plays my song and I feel alright: Cyrus has not adjusted to her new home, and is ambivalent about staying, but has developed a positive coping mechanism (attending parties in the USA), so will stay.  In studies of resilience in adolescents, the ability to control impulses is pivotal, as are communication skills – presumably, our girl is meeting some friends at these parties, helping her to adjust. Her stutter may have returned a little there.

Hoedown Throwdown:

“We get to four, five, six / And you’re feelin’ busted /  But it’s not time to quit Practice makes you perfect/ Pop it, lock it, polka dot it /  Country fivin’, hip hop hip / Put your arms in the sky, move side to side /  Jump to the left, stick it, glide” : Miley believes that you should persevere until you’ve achieved success. Atta girl! Because a positive outlook really does increase the likelihood of positive outcomes! The rest of this, I don’t really understand.

The Climb:

I can almost see it That dream I am dreaming But there’s a voice inside my head saying “You’ll never reach it”: Low self-esteem. Again. Plus, an actual voice in her head? That is what the psychologists call “not great.”

There’s always gonna be another mountain I’m always gonna wanna make it move Always gonna be a uphill battle Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose: Although this initially sounds like pessimism, Miley is simply realistic. This is better than a grandiose expectation of success.

Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa: Miley believes in something. Possibly Buddha.

Overall analysis:

Miley talks a LOT about being unsure or having low self-esteem. This is normal, but sometimes it’s like, come on, Miley! Don’t Taylor Swift us and talk about how you’re just some poor ol’ girl who wears sneakers. You’ve been rich and famous since you were like 13, and your dad is rich and famous, too! Because of Achy Breaky Heart, though. Yeah, go ahead with your low confidence, I guess.

For real, does anyone have receipts on the whole Miley-Leslie thing?


6 thoughts on “A Psychological Analysis Of Miley Cyrus’ Lyrics

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