Sunday, 24 June 2018

Knitting: A Positive Addiction

Knitting as positive addiction

When we think of addictions, we usually think of the kind that cause a wide range of problems and potentially destroy lives. But can there be such a thing as a positive addiction? Some psychologists think there is.

In Psychology Today, Dr Mark D. Griffiths looks at knitting as a positive addiction. As knitters, I am sure we have heard someone in our circle jokingly say they were addicted to knitting, maybe we've even said so ourselves. 

Hobbies such as this "could be deliberately cultivated to wean addicts away from more harmful and sinister preoccupations." Taking up knitting could therefore keep us happily occupied and take our minds off other, less healthy actions. In order for this to work, these "positive addictions must be new rewarding activities that produce increased feelings of self-efficacy."

There have been several articles in the papers about the health benefits of knitting such as reducing stress and creating a feeling of purpose. In other words, knitting can be a coping mechanism for the usual stresses we experience in life. We can find a new sense of purpose in knitting, which can be seen in the surge of craftivism (guerrilla knitting and pussy hats, anyone?). We love to create things, and it is even more satisfying for some if there is a greater purpose behind it. Knitting for charity comes to mind, for example. In these cases, it is important to us that there is a greater purpose behind what we create than simply the act of creation.

However, Griffiths relates that knitting can indeed be as addicting as a drug. We even have an ever growing stash and we can't stop ourselves from buying more, using terminology with a "clear crossover to the drug culture" (Etherknitter). We may not always feel we are in control of our yarn-buying habit, we spend a lot of time pursuing our craft, and for some of us not being able to knit can cause actual symptoms of withdrawal.

Griffiths concludes that it "is theoretically possible for an individual to become addicted to anything if there are constant reinforcements (i.e., rewards)", which makes sense. As long as knitting doesn't have detrimental effects on your life, there's nothing to worry about. Enjoy your WIPs and yarn stash and the joy they bring! 

Would you say you are really addicted to knitting? I have to say I am not, though I enjoy it. It's never interfered with anything else and has always been a nice way to spend my free time. I enjoy creating things with my hands, especially if they are intricate because I like the challenge. And yet none of my creative hobbies have ever had a negative effect on any other aspect of my life. That's just how I like it.

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