Thursday, 6 January 2011

Carp : Thank you Dr.John for granting me a few minutes of your precious time.....such a privilege and honour to meet you.
Dr.J : My pleasure....
Carp : Well, may I begin by getting down to this claim of yours, which is voiced in the title of your new book " Bridge Players Aren't Normal "..........that anyone who plays bridge is therefore, by inference, abnormal.
Dr. J : No, what I am alluding to is that once a normal person sits down to play bridge they soon display aspects of abnormal behaviour. You must recognise that psychological definitions of abnormality revolve around a handful of generally agreed-upon criteria. These have been classified as the 4Ds : distress, deviance, dysfunction and danger.
Carp : what you are saying is that these behavioural indicators can be seen in abundance inside any bridge club one cares to visit ?
Dr. J : Yes, without doubt. I've witnessed the distress of many players whenever they have registered bad board, or have failed to live up to their own, or partner's, expectations. I've seen the deviant methods and lengths some players will resort to in order to obtain a top. Players who can't cope, or keep control of their emotions. Then, as dysfunctional behaviour becomes more acute they can turn themselves into hideous and dangerous monsters.
Carp : My God....I see your point.....but tell there any other evidence to support your claim ?
Dr. J : Why yes.....abnormality generally involves pain and suffering, one aspect of which is acute and chronic personal suffering. You only have to look at the tortured faces of bridge players, as they play on through a session, to see the agony and distress whenever a poor, or mediocre, score is recorded. The quest for perfection creates for them an intolerable burden, where the stress and strain encountered becomes psychologically damaging. Any failure, no matter how small, causes them to sink further in the abyss of abject despair. However, this despair can manifest itself into real anger, which necessitates them to either beat themselves up....or their partner !
Carp : And are there any more dimensions to their abnormality ?
Dr. J : Glad you asked that....yes...there is one very common criterion, which is irrationality. Bridge players almost immediately adopt bizarre, illogical beliefs about the world they find themselves in. They develop persecution complexes where everyone is out to get them. The devil has somehow fixed the way the cards have been dealt. Dark forces conspire against them. Partner has become the enemy. Such is the extent of self-denial, their mistakes at the table have to be explained away by a whole host of external factors, many of which are the product of their over active imaginations.
Carp : Fascinating stuff..............
Dr. J : But what really proves my claim is that abnormality has a moral dimension, and the sad truth is that many bridge players develop a habit of rejecting moral values, they normally hold dear. In pursuit of tops they will look to break or circumvent rules, and dispense with ethical considerations which might restrict the way they want to bid or play the cards. They will violate moral standards, disregarding social etiquette in the process. Not surprisingly, illegal, immoral, and undersirable behaviour.........all aspects of abnormal behaviour .......becomes commonplace.
Carp : But surely there are all sorts of problems dealing with any definition of abnormality. Who is to say what constitutes normal behaviour in the first place ?
Dr. J : Yes, to an extent, I accept that there is a problem here. However, you have to remember that bridge players outside their world of bridge behave in a very sane and rational way. What is happening when then sit down to play bridge is nothing more than the Jekyll and Hyde effect. They change....dramatically. So much so the distiction between normal and abnormal becomes clearly obvious. Ancient Greeks saw abnormality as the onset of a general malaise.....they were right.
Carp : Well..on that note I think we should adjourn for a coffee break....
Dr. J : Yes, that's alright with long as you're paying....

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