Academic journal article Psychomusicology

Does Excessive Music Practicing Have Addiction Potential?

Academic journal article Psychomusicology

Does Excessive Music Practicing Have Addiction Potential?

Article excerpt

In the past, several researchers investigating musical expertise developed theories to explain the disciplined and self-devoting behavior of a professional musician in terms of practice habits (Burzik, 2002, 2007; de La Motte-Haber, 1985; Hallam, Cross, & Thaut, 2009; Kemp, 2004; Klöppel & Altenmüller, 2013; Lehmann & Oerter, 2011; Mahlert, 2007; Woody & McPherson, 2012). Professional musicians commit themselves to practicing and invest great amounts of time, effort, and often money into their music although the reward is mostly immaterial: A recent large sample study reveals the alarmingly poor living conditions of musicians even in economically strong and stable countries like Germany (Renz, 2016). Usually, explanations focus on motivational psychology which implies a general goal-directedness of the behavior (de La Motte-Haber, 1985; Kemp, 2004; North & Hargreaves, 2008). However, anecdotal evidence has shown that some musicians either continue to practice through practice-induced pain or experience psychosomatic disorders (like headaches, insomnia, nightmares etc.) and distress when practicing exceptionally long or when deprived of practicing. In these cases, the formerly healthy and expedient behavior of practicing can seem maladaptive or even self-injurious.

A theory that has previously been put forward but has not yet been empirically examined is the idea of "musical addictivity" (Panksepp, 1995; Vitouch, 2005). Panksepp assumes an involvement of the opioid system for the emergence of "chills" when listening to music and concludes from there that listening to emotionally arousing music can be addictive through the release of opioids. On those grounds, Panksepp compares the phenomenon of music-induced chills (defining the main bodily response as a feeling of coldness) with that of drug addiction and its related withdrawal symptoms (like the so-called "cold turkey"). Although this comparison has major limitations, the general hypothesis might provide a new perspective on certain types of music-related behavior.

In a popular context, the idea of music being addictive is fairly widespread. Headlines such as "Can music be addictive?" (Rösing, 1990), "10 Signs You Are Addicted to Music" (2015), or even "How to Overcome a Music Addiction (with Pictures)" (2016) are not seldom: Indeed, the search term "addicted to music" gets ~392,000 results in the search engine Google. Scientific research on this topic is, however, still quite scarce. Two studies have addressed excessive loud-music listening as addictive behavior and related it to the risk of noise-induced hearing loss (Florentine, Hunter, Robinson, Ballou, & Buus, 1998; Lisiewski, 2008 [review]; Schmuziger, Patscheke, Stieglitz, & Probst, 2012); a third one approached the excessive, possibly addictive, use of mp3players in teenagers from a retail perspective (Cockrill, Sullivan, & Norbury, 2011). Although all of these studies favor the assumption of music being addictive, evidence is not yet sufficient for the concept to find general acceptance among scientists. The two empirical studies on loud-music listening as addictive behavior (Florentine et al., 1998; Schmuziger et al., 2012) have been discarded as possible methodological approaches for the present study because they rely on an alcoholism questionnaire (Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test) whose applicability to the activity of music listening is questionable. The third study (Cockrill et al., 2011) is a deprivation study using a diary design that did not promise to produce quantifiable results. Additionally, what is missing in all of these attempts is the consideration of music practicing: Schmuziger et al. (2012) did include music performance in their test by equating music listening and nonprofessional playing of a musical instrument-which, however, is to be seen as a methodological limitation, as they are genuinely different in nature. The question whether professional musicians' practicing behavior can be addictive has not been addressed in any of these studies. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.