I have always been fascinating by the fact that so many bridge players come across as cantankerous , stubborn , mule-headed, awkward, ill-tempered and quarrelsome. Why is it I asked myself ?
Was it down to these players being well into their 60's, where being grumpy and miserable has become part and parcel of being old and cynical ? Was it down to the nature of the game which draws out from players their darker side and inner demons ? Or was it down to a specific as yet undiagnosed psychiatric disorder ?
Well , my research initially focused on the idea that such behavioural traits suggested victims were suffering from clinical anxiety, but the reality proved to be something else. Bridge players are oddly aggressive, because ODD is what they are. All of them have simply fallen victim to an OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER, which as it happens sits at the far end of the stubbornness spectrum. The line that divides being just difficult and stubborn from ODD has its own set of diagnostic criteria.
Players diagnosed as ODD quickly develop a pattern of negativistic, hostile and defiant behaviour which if unchallenged and untreated will last forever. The game of bridge seems to nurture and exacerbate this condition tenfold. Conflict situations crop up on almost every hand , where players feel compelled to argue with one another, to lose their temper, to actively defy or refuse to comply with requests, rules and TD decisions. Moreover, their inability to cope with bad scores fuels a burning desire to feel angry, resentful, spiteful and vindictive, whilst getting extremely touchy when others behave in a like way towards them.
So concerned have I been about ODD bridge players, I felt obliged to do this blog in order to stimulate more research into this alarming problem that is blighting bridge clubs the world over. However, what I have found to be the key criteria for ODD is spitefulness and vindictiveness. Bridge players cannot stop themselves from blaming others for their mistakes. In my view, " their destructiveness and disagreeableness " are purposeful in that afflicted players actively seek revenge by getting others mad. They choose to be " oppositional " not because of some stubborn streak they have suddenly developed, but because of an irresistible desire to rile those that have upset them.
If club committees would like to know more about this disorder, and what can be done to combat it, then I suggest they send off a cheque for a copy of my latest book entitled..... The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of ODD and The Study of the Ongoing Pattern of Disobedient, Hostile and Defiant Behaviour in Bridge Clubs. Most of the material involves clinical case studies of the ODDest bridge players I have ever encountered.