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Bobby Fischer: psychopath!

  • #1

    I am convinced that a diagnosis of Aspegers is incorrect for our patient, Mr Fischer.

    Surely psychopathy is the illness here. This ego-driven chess player who says that he likes crushing the ego of his opponent [lack of empathy = psychopath trait one] and his risk-taking behaviour in playing the Nadjorf [risk taking = psyhcpath trait two] both show the illness at hand.

    So I conclude that Bobby James Fischer = psychopath.

    I submit my conclusion to chess.com peer review where I am sure that everyone is a highly qualified psychiatrist.

  • #2

    My favourite bit is your last sentence :) I'm sure you'll get many "professional" opinions :P

  • #3

    Well...being one way in a game and one way in real life nullifies that argument.

  • #4

    Yes, definitely! From what I remember of my intro to psychology class that I took years ago, psychopathy is some type of a mental illness that some people have, and Fischer was definitely a person, therefore highly susceptible to being a psychopath!

  • #5
  • #6

    Dude playing the posion pawn Najdorf is not even remotely comperable to risk taking behaviour. That ussualy involves unprotected sex with strangers, drug use and assulting the toughest guy in the room just because he is there. Quit whining like sissy just because the best chess player of all time diden't have empathy and apperently diden't like jews very much.

  • #7

    Maybe the approach is wrong. Instead you might look at what incentives and pressures were placed up Fischer to take such radical positions. Here is a man who did not probably have many friends growing up. In chess, it appears to me to be common to hate your opponent. I am not saying that is right but the game is so competitive you just want to crush your opponent. So you are growing up as a child prodigy, national then international celebrity and the main discipline you practice gives you incentives to have no regard for the people around you. What kind of relationships will you build? As success comes you begin to feel more isolated, reality is seen through chess, an intense focus on tactics and strategy. Like all dangerous ideas, Fischer's spawned from some basis in reality. That is not a validation of his ideas, but it is important to respect where irrationality comes from. So here is guy who is isolated, intelligent and probably bombarded with people who have ulterior motives. What does this guy use? The tools he has been practicing for well over 10,000 hours to become the prominent figure  he is. Now you look at him and say  "you are crazy and there is something wrong with you" and I say "you mix orange juice and vodka and you get a screwdriver." I am just talking about  using something more than surface level thinking. Now if your friend brings you a screwdriver and you didnt want one, you dont care how it was made. You just tell him to quit effing around and bring you a proper drink, like scotch on the rocks. In case I am being cryptic, I am trying to make an analogy explaining the difference between why and how. Why are you psychopath? who cares. But how you became a psychopath? that is a much better question. Now its like running a lost chess game through houdini and finding out missed mate in 4. I would guess there were many opportunities to draw Fischer off his path. 


    Full disclosure, I am critical of much psychological theory. There are many fruitful things to have come from the field, but I feel the field suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect. 

  • #8

    I agree uhohspaghettio. though in life there are long term consequences from not acknowleding lack of skill or overestimating skill. 

  • #9

    The distinction between psychopath and sociopath and the correct use of the terms seems to be a problem for professional psychiatrists as well as for the layperson. It is also confused because many people associate the terms with physical violence and criminality.

    For people like Fischer I prefer the term sociopath.  Sociopaths can function in society and even be beneficial to others, but ultimately they lack empathy and act entirely out of self interest.  Sometimes self interest means following societt's laws and rules, and sometimes it means breaking them.

    Sociopathy is not considered to be a disease.  LIke autism it is the result of a brain that is wired a bit differently from the majority.  It is not an aberrant condition that can be treated and/or cured.

    I believe that Fischer was a Sociopath. One defining characteristic is taking pleasure in destroying another person in some way.  Fischer's statements and annotations to games show that he thought that way: "the bone-cruncher"; "I like the moment when I break a man's ego;".

    Further evidence of sociopathy is his willingness to make demands that most people would consider outrageous, and to get away with it.

    I am sure that he deliberately defaulted the first game as a psychological ploy to unsettle Spassky in the 1972 match.

    His failure to defend his title in 1975 may also be consistent with sociopathy.  Having achieved his ambition and being regarded as the strongest player of all time (his only rivals for that accolade are players that came after him) he had nothing more to prove, and his desire to work phenomenally hard at his chess to stay ahead of his rivals would have weakened.  The world has assumed that he was afraid of Spassky, that he deliberately made demands that he knew woudl not be met, so as to default, rather than lose an actual match.  Maybe that is true, maybe not.  It is not the only possible explanation.  Only the handful of people that were close to fischer in the 1970's know (or knew) the truth.

    Another feature of sociopathy is being unafraid to take on beliefs of which society at large disapproves. [The truth or falsity of the beliefs is beside the point]. His anti-semitism and anti-USA stances are further indications of sociopathy.

    Did he also have some degree of autism, which might have contributed to his skill at chess, or OCD, or other mental condition or disorder?  I cannot say.  But I think there is little doubt that he fits the picture of a sociopath.


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