Thursday, 9 December 2010

DR. JOHN'S CASE NOTES : THE McCANDLESS SYNDROME This particular disorder has finally been given a name , following the recent and sad story of Christopher McCandless, whose tragic and untimely death came to the attention of the world's leading psycho-analysts. Prior to this event, this syndrome had never been fully investigated or labelled. But that's all changed now, after this fool of a man left university, donated all his grad-school money to world hunger, and opted instead to become a hobo. He then decided to take on the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness without any experience or advice. During the 4 months he managed to stay alive, he did many stupid things, like camping in his car in a wash......where he almost drowned after a flash flood. But what really beggared belief was the fact that he never used a proper topo map, a failing which more than anything accounted for his demise.
Indeed, this syndrome involves an irrational and insane belief that one can take on difficult challenges in life without the need for any preparation or training. Stubbornness and stupidity combine to overwhelm victims to such an extent, that they need miracles to correct the mess they inevitably put themselves in.
Yet strangely, it is the bizarre world of bridge where this syndrome has been lurking undetected for years. Bridge players in their thousands have been suffering with this undiagnosed condition ever since they first took up the game. Despite being well short on experience, savvy and survival instincts, they continue to enter the harsh, hostile arenas of tournament bridge, completely unprepared and/or ill-prepared for what lies ahead. They plunge headlong into stupid contracts, getting axed at every turn, forever making suicidal sacrifices and being regularly done over by merciless opponents. In other words, these syndrome victims just thrash around in the darkness, constantly shooting themselves in the foot, and pressing self-destruct buttons left, right and centre. Moreover, no matter what advice and guidance is offered to them, they either refuse to listen, or if they do listen...... they refuse to take anything on board.
The whole idea of having a decent system card is completely alien to them, as was the map to McCardless. So these card less fools have no conventions, measures and counter-measures to take on the complicated systems of their opponents. Lambs to the slaughter is a phrase that immediately comes to mind. Tragically, victims with this disorder develop a farsical belief that no matter how appalling their results are now, better scores will be lying just around the corner.
To any casual observer, an obvious question arises : " What on earth causes players to be so stupid ? " The answer it seems requires one to read the diaries of Christopher McCardless......or better still, the book based on the diaries by Jon Krahauer entitled " Into the Wild ". Perhaps then, one might find the answer as to why so many bridge players so often succumb to crass stupidity and insane thinking.

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