Discussion thread 20

Note: Due to the sensitive nature of MFD, the identity of individual forum members has been protected here. All names have been replaced with the same alias: ‘Forum Member’. Forum posts have been included in their entirety where appropriate. Spelling and grammar have been corrected where necessary.

Please use the submenus under “Online Forum Postings” to read the many discussion threads.

In response to a question about the possible cause of MFD:

As I’ve said many times to those that I’ve coached (because it has been appropriate to say so): “Fear is a huge part of MFD.” This might need to be elaborated upon, or changed rather to: “Negative emotions such as fear, aggression, etc, and their effect on the way we hold and use our bodies, are a huge part of MFD.”

This seems to be true in all of the people (not only musicians) that I have helped with task-specific FD.

Perhaps it is more accurate to say that high stress over prolonged periods of time, and/or negative emotions such as fear and aggression – experienced both in conjunction with playing as well as away from the instrument – and the effects these emotions/stress have on the way we hold and use our bodies, again, both in conjunction with playing and away from the instrument, are a huge part of MFD.

Note that I am not stating a causal link here, rather, an observed correlation.

However, the above, coupled with genetic predisposition for task-specific focal dystonia as well as repetitive activity, seem to be the cause of MFD in many sufferers.

Carl Ellenberger M.D. attempts to explain this in his article “Practice makes imperfect

There are undoubtedly exceptions to the above.

In my observations, MFD is created with a combination of 3 factors:
* ineffecient body mechanics
* inefficiencies in intent/mental direction (the signals the brain sends to the body)
* the emotions

In Forum Member’s case, from what you’ve written above Forum Member, it would seem that the initial cause or trigger for your FD was inefficient body mechanics due to “bad front crowns” interfering with the playing system. This *may* have then led to inefficiencies in intent, and finally gone over to affect the emotions (fear, anxiety), which then creates a negative feedback loop between body and mind.

In other sufferers, negative emotions are the trigger – of which fear is by far the most prevalent. The negative emotions make a once efficient playing setup inefficient. Our playing system – our body and the signals we send to it from our brain – become inefficient as a natural response to negative emotions/fear.

It seems that by the time we arrive at this FB group, most of us have experienced all 3 of the above factors *whether we are aware of this or not*. The triggering and primary factor however seems to be very individual.

In my case it was emotional stress away from playing, which then crept into my body mechanics and mental direction, which then created the first symptoms. It was not until I addressed the underlying emotional cause (stress), and at the same time addressed the physical/psychological inefficiencies I had learned, that my MFD started to dissolve.

(Note: In my opinion, we *dissolve* MFD and re-learn an efficient approach to playing when we recover. We don’t *fight* MFD, as this only makes it worse!)

Hope that is useful!

In response to a question regarding techniques to relieve stress:

Basically, find out what it is that is stressing you out, and change it if you can. I know it sounds simplistic, but sometimes we overlook the obvious things.

In terms of general stress relieving techniques, I would recommend
* Alexander Technique
* Mindfullness meditation
* Yoga (works for some, but not for me)
* Gentle exercise
* Slowing down personal tempo in stressful situations
* Allowing yourself to observe surroudings and situations, rather than making judgements.

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