Monday, 22 November 2010

In the highly charged and competitive arenas of tournament bridge, many players fall victim to this rather disturbing syndrome. The pressures of the game have become so immense that possessing mental stamina alone is not enough. Players are required to maintain full focus and concentration every second, displaying a relentless ability to read situations ( as they unfold ) with sharp, accurate and precise analysis. Moreover, not only are players up against skillful opponents, but also maverick partners, officious or inept TDs, old father time himself, as well as their own shortcomings and failings. The consequence of trying to cope with all these demands and set backs is , of course , the inevitable on set of this debilitating syndrome.

The Burn Out Syndrome is also known as a " syndrome of being burned ". It is characterised by 3 essential components :

  1. physical and/or psychological tiredness denominated by emotional exhaustion
  2. depersonalisation that is seen as a negative change of attitude towards others ( at the table )
  3. a lack of personal realization that is associated with feelings of being inadequate, or lacking personal accomplishments

The term " burn out " was coined for the first time by myself, in 1974, when the police discovered the charred remains of a body in a derelict car park. Suspected of being the murderer, Bigot-Johnson was arrested being the last person to see the victim alive. The dead man had been his error-prone partner that same day in a high ranking bridge Swiss Pairs competition, where Bigot lost his number one position after a disastrous last round. Witnesses recorded how he completely flipped. He was emotionally, physically and mentally shot. The prosecution alleged that he drove his partner away in his car, and then poured petrol over him and set him alight. As an expert witness for the defence, I explained to the court that Bigot was a classic case of " burn out " transference. He had fallen victim to the syndrome and had become so disillusioned and tormented, he chose not to internalise all his negative feelings........but to externalise them towards partner, who he blamed for his latest failure. However, with the police having nothing more than circumstantial evidence to go on, Bigot was found " not guilty ".

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