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Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Psychologist Looks at Bobby Fischer

For those that might be interested, I came across an article on Pacific Standard titled “A Psychological Autopsy of Bobby Fischer” by Joseph G. Ponterotto. Dr. Ponterotto is a licensed psychologist and mental health counselor in New York State, and is the former Associate Editor of the Journal of Counseling Psychology. He currently coordinates both the Mental Health and School Counseling Master’s Degree Programs at Fordham University.   

Chess player Bobby Fischer's tortured life illustrates why promising young talents deserve better support programs.

 “At a 1958 tournament in Yugoslavia, Mikhail Tal, a legendary attacking grandmaster and one-time world champion, mocked chess prodigy Bobby Fischer for being "cuckoo." Tal's taunting may have been a deliberate attempt to rattle Fischer, then just 15 but already a major force in the highly competitive world of high-level chess. But others from that world — including a number of grandmasters who'd spent time with him — thought Fischer not just eccentric, but deeply troubled. At a tournament in Bulgaria four years later, U.S. grandmaster Robert Byrne suggested that Fischer see a psychiatrist, to which Fischer replied that "a psychiatrist ought to pay [me] for the privilege of working on [my] brain." According to journalist Dylan Loeb McClain, Hungarian-born grandmaster Pal Benko commented, "I am not a psychiatrist, but it was obvious he was not normal. ... I told him, 'You are paranoid,' and he said that 'paranoids can be right.'" Read more…

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