"Please look at this terribly warped me!"


Psycho is a song by vocaloid producer Eight. It was released in 2013, and currently has 150k+ views on Niconico, as well as 800k+ views on a Youtube reprint with English subtitles. The bass is done by Wassan, the video by 6274, and Eight uses Hatsune Miku for the vocals.

While the meaning can be interpreted differently, as with every song, I believe Psycho is about the struggles of dealing with a stigmatized mental illness -- both the external and internal issues that come with it. However, I also firmly believe that the mental illness portrayed in the song is not psychopathy or a personality disorder, but psychosis. This article will detail exactly what leads me to this conclusion and the lyrics and symbolism that support my theory.

Background Info: Stigma

Unfortunately, in the world we live in, mental illness is generally either romanticized or stigmatized depending on how easy it is for the general population to latch on to it and pretend it's an aesthetic. When you don't fall into that category, you get looked down upon, which can lead to some pretty intense loneliness and fear of looking for help.

「太古の昔に決めたから、サイコな奴は死ねばいいの 判らないよ!」

"They've decided so since ancient times - psychos can just go die. I don't get it at all!"

Through the turmoil of dealing with the illness itself, the song demonstrates the added feelings of isolation that come with having to deal with everyone else's judgement.

Background Info: Psychosis

Psychosis is a complex issue that can generally be described as losing of touch with reality. It is not a disorder, it is a symptom. People with psychosis will commonly experience hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thought processes, and other symptoms such as a weakened ability to express emotion (aka flat effect) or find joy in the things they like.

When we take a look at the lyrics in Psycho, we can see examples of almost all of these things.

The Lyrics

The bulk of my theory comes from two areas: the amount of lyrics that seem to talk about disorganized thought processes, and a clear loss of touch with reality the singer experiences throughout the song. These two things are intertwined throughout the song, thus it is impossible to tackle them seperately. There are some clear examples of hallucinations in these lyrics as well. As we can see below, the singer is not thinking clearly, a thick confusion evident when trying to describe their own reality:

  • "I inhale this scattered fog of thought" - Dissociation/Derealization can tend to feel kind of like a fog, and a lot of times you feel like you can't fully comprehend your own thoughts. This lyric also exemplifies how their train of thought is all over the place, hence it being "scattered".
  • "Is this cut off skin breathing?" - Probably alluding to visual hallucinations, as things appearing to breathe is common in people with psychosis. I don't really know why it's cut off though -- maybe also a hallucination, self harm, or symbolic of their body feeling detached from themself.
  • "My spat out words, all of them seem cheap looking" - When someone is dissociating from reality, they're going to feel disconnected from the things they do and say. They may see their words as cheap because they can't bring themself to put feeling behind them. This is a part of what's called flat affect, something that can be experienced alongside psychosis.
  • "I just want to know an even more real sensation" - Wanting to feel something concrete, grounded, and "real", as opposed to everything feeling so disjointed and disconnected. The word "sensation" is important here -- when you're disconnected from reality this severely, you kind of stop comprehending all of your senses. For example, you might feel like your sight isn't registering properly in your brain. From this lyric we can tell the singer has experienced something like this for quite some time and is sick of it.
  • "In ruined apartment 102 I'm knocked over, and my scraped mouth tastes of iron..." - Hints to some physical struggle, in their confusion they may have wrecked their apartment and/or got hurt. Note the passive verb tense: "I'm knocked over" as opposed to "I fall over" implies that something else caused them to fall, whether it was a person, hallucination, or just something making them fall during this struggle. Also note the last part -- they notice the taste of iron instead of saying that they're bleeding. Maybe they aren't making that connection. If this is the case, it further shows how unclear their thought process is and how much they're struggling to keep a hold of what's going on.
  • "How much of this patched-up, joined-together "me" is actually me, I wonder?" - Psychosis can cause issues with personal identity and not really understanding who you are; feeling this kind of severe confusion and disconnection can really jumble your self perception. "Patched-up, joined-together" makes me think that their identity is falling apart and barely holding on as the singer is trying to fix themselves.

Something which particularly supports the idea of disorganization is the way the lyrics are arranged: back to back statements of confusion all about different things is reminiscent of rushing anxiety and all of your thoughts and concerns attacking you at once, especially with the high tempo of the song. It feels like it's being thrown at you all at once, and I think this is on purpose.

Another important thing to note is the very first line in the song. It says, "That guy points his finger at me, so can I point my knife through him?" and honestly can cause people to think Psycho is about psychopathy or whatever, and I understand that. But I think its worth considering that this line may not be 100% literal - we can see this as active aggression, or we can look at it as a combination of disorganized thinking and intrusive thoughts. The latter is self explanitory, but for the former, we can look at the Japanese lyrics to see that the verbs for "point" (sasu, 指す) and "stab" (sasu,刺す) are exactly the same aside from the kanji. With this in mind, the lyric transforms from "I'm going to kill you for making fun of me!" to something more like "They're pointing at me, so its okay for me to point at (stab) them, right?". Of course this line of thinking doesn't make the most sense, but that's the point. They are not thinking clearly because they are dealing with psychosis. This becomes even more clear when we look at the line DIRECTLY after this, which literally says "I don't get it at all!".

Finally, lets take a look at some of the most important lyrics for this theory.

「頭ん中バッグって」 - "My head's glitching out"

In other translations, this lyric is sometimes translated as "My head's been bugged", which works excellent for the theory, but unfortunately is wrong. The word in question here is "バグる", a term that literally translates as "to bug out" and refers mostly to bugs and glitches in computers. However, I've heard this term used a lot in other songs with similar themes - specifically Enmei Chiryou by Neru (「頭中がバッグちゃって」 - "my head's on the fritz") and Bug by Kairiki Bear (literally the entire song). In our situation here, it's an important lyric that describes the feeling that something is glitching out, something is not working the way it's intended, and it's screwing up everything else as a result.

「ひどくいびつな僕を見てよ!」- "Please look at this terribly warped me!"

This lyric gives the impression that the singer's self perception is not right and they know that the way they're seeing the world is, well, horribly distorted. And yet this lyric is calling out for help. It's begging the listener to notice that something is wrong.

The PV

I don't have as much to say about the PV as I do the lyrics, as I believe a lot of it either goes direcly with the lyrics or is self explanitory. However, there are a couple things I'd like to note:

  • The character is commonly seen either carrying various body parts or missing their own, which I think symbolizes their feelings of disconnect from their own body. Depersonalization/psychosis can make you feel intensely like your body doesn't belong to you or that it doesn't exist.
  • There are a lot of rushing exclamation marks and question marks. I think the question marks symbolize confusion in reality and things the MC can't understand or process correctly. I think the exclamation marks are either symbols of fear or of suddenly thinking you understand something when you're way way off.
  • I think the character is holding a knife out of fear. Fear of their surroundings, which are all unfamiliar and frightening, as well as for self defense against others who look down on them. Carrying the knife also alludes to the stigma of thinking that they are dangerous, so in doing what they think is keeping them safe, it actually may be making things worse.

Psycho by Eight doesn't simply tell you that this person is struggling with psychosis, it shows what it's like to experience the thought process when dealing with issues like this. The lyrics that quickly come and go exemplify the anxiety of someone who can't understand the reality they live in anymore and shows you how scary it can be, without forgetting that issues like this aren't taken lightly by the general public. It shows the experience of dealing with your own brain not functioning properly as well as the judgement of others for which you cannot control.

Thanks for reading!