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December 11, 1967

The Madness in Sports: Psychosocial Observations on Sports

JAMA. 1967;202(11):1058. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130240100031

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So many of us enjoy sports, either as participants or spectators, that we rarely consider such activity psychopathological. In fact, we might consider indifference to athletics as abnormal. Yet here is a book called The Madness in Sports. The author, a physician who had thoroughly enjoyed many sports, developed poliomyelitis a few weeks after winning a national tennis championship. After two years in an iron lung, he recovered sufficiently to practice psychiatry from a wheelchair. He continued his interest in athletics as an observer and as therapist for athletes.

Case studies of basketball, football, golf, and tennis players, a weight lifter, and a boxer constitute the heart of the book. Each is a fascinating story, showing how sports both solved important life problems for the players and then produced other problems. Each man suffered serious emotional illness but benefited from psychiatric treatment. All could reconstitute their lives, usually with sports