Журнал психологии и психотерапии

Журнал психологии и психотерапии
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ISSN: 2161-0487


Exploring the Attachment Narrative of a Professional Musician with Severe Performance Anxiety: A Case Report

Dianna T Kenny and Jeremy Holmes

The aim of this paper was to contribute to the further development of a coherent theory of music performance anxiety (MPA). Kenny (2011) proposed three forms of MPA – focal, MPA with social anxiety, and MPA with panic and depression. An attachment disorder was proposed as the underlying psychopathology for this third type of MPA. Accordingly, an open-ended in-depth assessment interview of a professional musician presenting with severe music performance anxiety that included panic attacks and depressed mood was analysed from an attachment theory perspective. We hypothesized that the musical performance setting re-triggers unprocessed feelings related to early attachment trauma, and that performance anxiety can be a manifestation of the emergence into consciousness of these powerful early feelings. As hypothesised, this musician suffered both early and current relational trauma that was expressed through particular symptomatology in his music performance anxiety. Failure to identify and treat underlying attachment disorders in severely anxious musicians may render other forms of treatment ineffective or short-lived.