Maladaptive Daydreaming: where wild minds come to rest
Dear Maladaptive Dreamers,
My name is Philip Dorrell.
As far as I know, I am a "normal" daydreamer.
The reason I wanted to join the "Wild Minds" network is because I am interested in ... Music.
Music is one of the fundamental unsolved mysteries of human nature. We don't know what music is, and we don't know why it exists.
Our knowledge of the existence of music is entirely subjective. The only way to know if a given sequence of sounds is musical or not is to listen to it, and see if it sounds musical. The only objective way to identify a sequence of sounds as musical is to observe that other people listen to it, and to hope that one can eliminate all non-musical explanations as to why other people are listening to those sounds (and in practice the only way to be sure that there is no non-musical reason to listen to some sounds is to listen to those sounds oneself anyway).
Music does have structures somewhat analogous to those of speech, and of course some music is singing which is a stylised form of speech. We do have a reasonable understanding of what speech is and why it exists (ie for people to communicate with each other). But we don't know what the relationship is between music and speech, and whether the purpose of music has anything at all to do with the purpose of speech.
The content of music does not seem to have any intrinsic meaning, which suggests that it might be some form of symbolic communication. Yet music does not seem to communicate anything specific, at least not in the way that speech does. Music is mostly "enjoyed" rather than "understood". And music bears repetition in a way that normal speech doesn't (like if you've said it once, there's no point repeating it twenty times).
The primary effect of music seems to be its "emotional" effect, although even the nature of this effect is difficult to describe precisely. Does music "cause" emotions? Does it act on pre-existing emotions? Why do we apparently enjoy "sad" music, even though normally we don't enjoy being sad?
With all these issues in mind, I recently developed a hypothesis that the emotional effect of music applies chiefly to "hypothetical" emotions, ie to emotions arising from hypothetical imagined situations. In the first instance I observed the extremely consistent use of music in cinematic films.
But of course cinematic films are a very recent chapter in the history of human evolution, and music seems to have existed for tens of thousands of years, if not more.
As it happens, outside of entertainments provided and distributed with the help of modern technologies, most of the hypothetical scenarios processed in the human brain are those generated by that same brain, ie, daydreams.
And I observed, from my own personal experience, that there can be a direct interaction between music and the emotionality of my own daydreams, especially if the music in question is something I strongly enjoy.
And then, not long after developing this hypothesis, I read about maladaptive/compulsive daydreamers. And I wondered to myself, is there an interaction between music and daydreams in these people who, for whatever reason, are more strongly motivated to daydream than the rest of us?
Even from reading that first article about MD, I learned that music is a very common "trigger" for daydreams, and some compulsive daydreamers do most of their daydreaming while also listening to music.
So here I am, hoping to investigate further.
What I would like to do, as a member of this network, is explore some questions and hypotheses. I would like to write questions and state hypotheses, and hopefully anyone who is interested can relate them to their own personal experience. This is isn't fully scientific research, because I'm essential hunting for interesting anecdotes, but it can perhaps be a prelude to more systematic investigations.
So here's an initial list:
(Link to related blog post on my own blog: Music and Day Dreaming )