Swedish Man Gets 'Sick' Benefits For Heavy Metal 'Addiction'

Sweden's The Local reports: A Swedish heavy metal fan has had his musical preferences officially classified as a disability. The results of a psychological analysis mean that the metal lover can now count on having his income supplemented by state benefits.

Roger Tullgren (Photo#1, Photo#2, Photo#3, Photo#4, Photo#5), 42, from Hässleholm in southern Sweden, has just got a new job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant.

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.

"The fact that I am so into music has affected my work situation to the extent that I have had to quit some jobs," he said.

[Watch video footage of Roger Tullgren talking (in Swedish) about his heavy metal addiction at this location.]

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.

Last year the ageing rocker claims to have attended almost three hundred shows, 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 a series of sessions with a psychologist soon 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.

The manager at his new workplace allows him to go to concerts as long as he makes up for lost time at a later point. He is also allowed to dress as he likes and listen to heavy metal while washing up.

"But not too loud when there are guests," said Tullgren.

The Local spoke to an occupational psychologist in Stockolm who admitted to being baffled by the decision.

"I think it's extremely strange. Unless there is an underlying diagnosis it is absolutely unbelievable that the job centre would pay pay out.

"If somebody has a gambling addiction, we don't send them down to the racetrack. We try to cure the addiction, not encourage it," he said.

Henrietta Stein, deputy employment director for the Skåne region, is also puzzled by the move; "an interest in music" is not usually sufficient to qualify for wage benefits.

"Certain cases are confidential but in general there is always a medical reason that is well-documented," she said.

Tullgren currently plays bass and guitar in two rock bands (including SILVERLAND; MySpace) and says that he tends to get a lot of positive reactions for daring to be himself.

"Some might say that I should grow up and learn to listen to other types of music but I can't. Heavy metal is my lifestyle," he said.

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