December 26, 2011 | Hebrew
Can Studying Be an Addiction?
As soon as I got on the plane for Italy, I started in on Italian again.
Compulsive behavior is a blessing and a curse. But at least in its more benign forms, I find it a blessing.
On the Streets of Genoa
When you really want to do something, you tend to go all out.
In Genoa, Italy, I found myself pulling out an Italian grammar book around 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve during a break in the action of It’s a Wonderful Life, which I was watching with my sister-in-law’s family. One of my nephews commented on this fact.
“I can’t help it,” I said. “I’m addicted. But better this than heroin.”
He replied, “I don’t know. Heroin would be lighter to carry around.”
I looked at him. “You are advising me to become a drug addict?”
Later, remembering how during another vacation I had gone off and done Pimsleur lessons on the floor of a dark airless closet so tiny I couldn’t extend my legs, I decided to look online to determine whether I might have accidentally become a full-on addict.
I found an American Psychiatric Association seven-question quiz to assess addiction, modifying the criteria as needed:
- Have you developed a tolerance? Do you need more Pimsleur (or other language-learning resource) than you used to in order to get the same effects?
- Do you ever feel withdrawal symptoms after stopping use, or do you ever use any other substance to prevent these symptoms (e.g., Rosetta Stone instead of Pimsleur)?
- Do you ever study longer than you had intended? For example, do you go out for one Pimsleur lesson at lunch intending to get back to work, and end up doing eight and writing off a day at the office?
- Have you ever tried to reduce your study time, and found that you cannot, or that you soon find yourself studying at the same level again?
- Do you have a preoccupation with language learning? In other words, do you spend a great deal of time thinking about studying, then studying, and then recovering from studying?
- Have you ever stopped participating in worthwhile activities that you used to enjoy, such as talking to other human beings, because of your studying?
- Have you ever continued to study even in the face of adverse social or health consequences, such as falling months behind on e-mail, or failing to eat until your blood sugar is so low that only two pints of Häagen Dazs can revive you, or falling asleep to Pimsleur lessons and then getting woken up throughout the night by said lessons, yet repeatedly failing to remove your headphones so that you can actually stay asleep until morning?
If you answer yes to at least three of the seven questions, you are supposedly an addict.
I do not find this to be a convenient time to tally my score.