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Psychological Issues and Treatment Strategies in Popular Musicians: A Review, Part 2

Susan D. Raeburn
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 15 Number 1: Page 6 (March 2000)

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Abstract: Part 1 of this review described the overall goals of the paper as follows: to increase the reader's understanding of what types of common psychological problems popular musicians face; how individual, family, and sociocultural factors interact in the development and maintenance of these problems; and how interventions need to address all of these factors. The ecological transactional model developed by developmental psychologists Cicchetti and Toth1 was presented as the contextual background for understanding the development of an individual's psychological resiliency or vulnerability to symptoms. The model posits four interacting levels as crucial to an individual's "ecology": the self, the family, the community, and the culture. The first part of this review explored aspects of each of these levels, including occupational risk factors as characteristic of the community and culture of popular musicians. Part 1 ended with a brief discussion of the creative process, similarly from an interactive systems perspective. Part 2 discusses the psychological symptoms of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse/dependence; provides some limited data on popular musicians' self-reports of the prevalence of these symptoms (unfortunately, not from a formal diagnostic perspective); and suggests general treatment and prevention strategies compatible with the ecological transactional model of psychological development. The treatment strategies include suggestions for intervening at the level of the individual, the band "family" (or comparable working group), and the popular music industry culture. To reiterate from Part 1 of this review, what follows is a broad-based approach to understanding psychological symptoms and treatment options for popular musicians in an attempt to offer some provisional insights and practical strategies to the interested reader. Some limitations of this review must, however, be acknowledged. For instance, whereas depression, anxiety, and substance abuse/dependence are relatively prevalent and potentially life-disrupting symptoms among musicians, there are many other psychological symptoms that have not been included. Another limitation is that most of the popular musician data reported in this review come from nonrandom, convenience samples and rely on musicians' self-reports. The data thereby fall considerably short in their capacity to assess standardized diagnostic (i.e., DSM IV criterion2) prevalence of the symptoms in question. Nonetheless, this information may be suggestive of the overall scope of the problems as well as of the current developmental stage of research on popular musicians and popular musician subgenres, which remains quite limited.

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