Here’s something worth banging your head over: 42-year-old Roger Tullgren, from Hässleholm, Sweden, was cleared for state disability benefits after he’s been certified by three psychologists as a heavy-metal addict who can’t function at his workplace unless he is allowed to wear black T-shirts and camo pants, and rock out to loud heavy metal music.
The Swedish edition of The Local first reported about Roger Tullgren back in 2007, soon after his addiction to heavy-metal was acknowledged by psychologists and the state employment service agreed to pay part of his salary. Apparently, his interest in heavy-metal started in 1971, when his brother came home with a Black Sabbath album. Since then he’s been hooked to everything that screams heavy-metal, sports long black hair, a collection of tattoos and wears skull and crossbones jewelry. Nothing really out of the ordinary so far, he’s not the only man in the world passionate about this culture. But in Tullgren’s case, it started interfering with everything else. Because he couldn’t help attending hundreds of heavy-metal shows and events every year, often skipping work, his employer eventually tired of his antics and the aging rocker found himself without a job and relying on welfare. Luckily, after some sessions with occupational psychologists who certified his addiction to heavy-metal as a disability, Roger Tullgren earned the right to a wage supplement from the local job center.
“I have been trying for ten years to get this classified as a handicap,” Roger told The Local. “I spoke to three psychologists and they finally agreed that I needed this to avoid being discriminated against.” I signed a form saying: ‘Roger feels compelled to show his heavy metal style. This puts him in a difficult situation on the labour market. Therefore he needs extra financial help’. So now I can turn up at a job interview dressed in my normal clothes and just hand the interviewers this piece of paper.” He was also lucky to land a job as a dishwasher and an employer who allowed him to listen to his loud music as long he didn’t disturb guests and to attend as many heavy-metal gigs as he liked, if he made up for lost time at a later date.
But while many news sites have recently picked up the 6-year-old story and present it as still relevant, the truth is Roger Tullgren no longer receives benefits. After his case became famous years ago, and many occupational psychologists in Sweden declared themselves baffled by the decision to support a man’s addiction with benefits instead of trying to cure it, the state soon canceled the original decision, at least according to a 2009 report by Barometern. He now makes a living as a sound engineer at heavy-metal events around the country, like the Sweden Rock Festival, and even plays in his band, Silverland. Although he wan’t too happy to see his benefits canceled, Tullgren admits he got a big PR boost for his music group after media picked up on his story.
Although the three occupational psychologists’ decision has expired, his addiction hasn’t. Heavy-metal is still a huge part of Roger Tullgren’s life, and the woman who once married him can confirm it. Years ago, his wife gave him an ultimatum – to choose between her and his love for hard rock. She is now his ex-wife…