Friday, July 03, 2009

Mental Health and MLB

Roy asked me to post about this article, by Shirley Wang,
from the Wall Street Journal:
Professional Baseball Faces Loaded Problem: Mental Health

The article starts by talking about the fact that there are three Major League Baseball players on the Disabled List (the D-L) for anxiety. It goes on to talk about 'butterflies' and golfers' 'yips.' It names some professional athletes who've suffered from other mental health issues, and there is talk of pitchers who suddenly couldn't throw. The players, apparently, have access to a counselor.

What don't I like about the article? Somehow, I read it and had the flavor that these players are disabled by anxiety from the stress of their profession and the performance demands...the article ends with a psychologist being quoted as saying that anxiety is normal.

My best guess...and I don't know these players and have never examined that there is more to it than stage fright, or the pressure of the biz. When you're getting paid what these guys get, I don't think they let you bow out and go on the D-L because you're job's too much and you get butterflies in front of the crowd. By the time you're on the D-L, the mental health issue is probably quite disabling, and not the normal or expectable anxiety that goes along with jitters and yips. And I can't imagine that professional sportsmen are any less vulnerable than the rest of the population to mental health issues.


Therapy Expert said...

Hi Dinah,
I read your article and wanted to add;
I agree with the (un-named) psychotherapist that anxiety is a normal part of human life; we all need a certain amount in order to function on a daily basis.
I think the sports men and women you may be referring to are suffering from a bad management of their anxieties.
Patients who have dealt with and indeed worked well with psychotherapists etc... Have learnt to manage anxiety so it does not impact on their lives to such a detrimental effect.
Thank you
Gary Graye

Anonymous said...

I thought all these crazy rich ball players, renowned pianists, etc. could get their hands on beta blockers. Not that you should, but I imagine they've made bigger sacrifices than that by the time they've hit their peak.

Anonymous said...

+1 but not for the reasons you think