Thursday, 15 April 2010

It is not unusual to come across psychological disorders that affect people simultaneously, such as two people suddenly sharing the same delusional beliefs and ideas. To those looking on, it may appear as if symptoms are transmitted from one person to another in an instant, as if a highly contagious virus was at work. Mass hysteria is a classic example of a simultaneous impact of madness on extremely large congregations and/or crowds. However, in the quieter corners of club houses, a small number of bridge players will succumb to something known as folie a deux ( meaning " a madness shared by two " ). Originally listed as a rare psychiatric syndrome, it appears to be flourishing very well within this claustrophobic environment of card playing fanatics. The predominant symptoms which seem to be transmitted from one player to another are, of course, paranoia and psychosis. Indeed, there is no other game in the world that can disturb the mind in the way that bridge does. Moreover, the same symptoms can be shared by more than 2 players, leading onto conditions known as folie a trois, folie a quatre, folie a table, and even folie a plusieurs ( " madness of many " ).
Someone once said " there is a fine line between wanting to play bridge every day and mental illness ". However, this person clearly failed to make the connection, that by playing bridge every day madness would be the inevitable outcome. Without a doubt regular bridge players are seriously at risk to this particular, but rather disturbing, disorder. They will all experience delusional beliefs ( such as " I'm at expert at this game " ), as well as exhibiting personality changes and thought disorders. These symptoms, coupled with unusual and bizarre behaviour , become more acute as bridge turns into an obsession, which completely takes over their lives.
Two clients I have had on my books now for some time are Penelope and Percy Pantopod, both members of the Walnut Tree Allotment BC. Both now in their late 50's, they have been diagnosed with folie a deux, because whenever Bigot-Johnson sits at their table each one simultaneously believes they are now in the presence of " The Devil " himself . Delusions of persecution and imminent skulduggery become so real, the TD is called over before any action has even taken place. They once claimed ( in uncanny unison ) that when a finesse of a queen lost to Bigot's king, he had used his black magic powers to mysteriously switch this card from his partner's hand to his.
So in the inescapable conclusion is that bridge and madness go hand in hand.....that behaviour within bridge clubs can never be normal.........and where passion and competitiveness is in abundance, the risk of folie a plusiers becomes all too great.

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