PSYCHOANALYTICAL, NEUROLOGICAL, AND PSYCHONEUROANALYTICAL FOUNDATIONS OF SPORTS

By Kenneth B.V. Gross, M.D.

INTRODUCTION:

When neurologist Kenneth B.V. Gross was asked what he expects from the participants, he wrote the following so we could understand his mindset: Sports clearly serve a great purpose in society as a way to foster healthy competition and to develop admirable qualities such as teamwork, athleticism, and conditioning. However, the deep causation of sports is rarely addressed as it relates to our phylogeny, ontogeny, nervous systems, and psyches. Viewing sports as a microcosm of society doesn’t do justice to civilization, psychoanalysis, sociology, or our imaginations. Play is a critical forerunner of the institution called sports—whether we delve into the minds of fans, sports puppeteers (owners, coaches, etc.), or the participants themselves—at so many levels. However, whether speaking about Winnicott, who wrote a volume on play, Melanie Klein, and some of her relevant assessments of the infant’s “field of dreams,” or Freud inadvertently addressing the player’s motivation to defeat the father (the manager on the field) or even lose the game via the fulfillment of a death instinct, my approach demands a new vision of sports: the brain and the mind. We also must explore sports and its inextricable link to psychosis because sports, at least from my perspective, are psychopathological.

This Webinar represents an interactive project to overview a new interdisciplinary field to include Psychoanalytical, Neurological and by extension the Psychoneuroanalytical underpinning of Sports. As is noted below, other disciplines are also relevant to what is effectively the creation of a new discipline within the framework of the three lead subspecialties.

Overview of Webinar

Sports, which includes athletic movement, play, games, team/league organization and fandom, reveals our ancestral Neuroanthropology. Relevance to our evolution, development from infancy, psychic existence, movements/behavioral patterns, cultural institutions, basal ganglia mediated disorders and neuro-decay is derived from this analysis of sports.

The Primal Neuroanthropology of Sports and the Psychoanalysis of the Sports Brain/Mind Interface contain new hypotheses involving Evolutionary Neurology, Psychoanalytic models, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychiatry, and other fields. It is contended that Sports gestures, postures, movements and expressions are critical to what represents the primitive consciousness if not unconsciousness of the sports performer.

We may be aware of the athlete’s individual motives and the larger structure of games and leagues but have missed a Freudian Totemism1 if not the Total Outline (as per Malinowski5) of the neurological, psychosocial and evolutionary aspects of the numerous unconscious actions of those participating in athletics and related activities.

The genetic and neurodegenerative processes that link to sports, its movements, behaviors and themes involve the most phyolgenetically ancient components of the brain including the pre-frontal cortex, brainstem, cerebellum, substantia nigra and striatum.

Simultaneously, psychoanalytic constructs with or without a neurological underpinning are operative in the content of Sports themselves, in those who participate in them and in those who are immersed if not addicted to team identification and competitive outcomes.

This project is dedicated to unraveling the “mystery in plain sight” of this mega-institution called Sports in terms of its psychoanalytic, neurological and psychoneuroanalytical foundations.

Webinar Aims

Broad goals of the Webinar relate to the exploration and delineation of psychoanalytical and neurological interweaving in Sports. The interdisciplinary nature of the Psychoanalysis and Neurology of Sports will be distinguished from the established fields of Sports Psychology and Sports Neurology. A companion goal is to debunk the concept that Sports Medicine should be accepted at face value as if Sports Medicine is akin to an overlapping subspecialty the way Neuropsychiatry might be construed as one. It is quite telling that whereas Sports Psychology and Sports Neurology and Sports Medicine are accepted into common professional and lay parlance, the term “Sports Psychiatry” is rarely used and there is no established field called “Sports Psychoanalysis”. In fact, I prefer the categorization as the “Psychoanalysis of Sports”. One might seek out an oncologist for one’s cancer, but it is essentially unheard of to locate a “Sports Psychoanalyst” to address one’s “sports disorder”. As implied, a Sports Psychologist is defined as “in charge” of the overriding issue for athletes- and this is almost exclusively focused upon improving one’s performance in sports. So, I want to address this defect in the intersection of Psychoanalysis and Sports in the medical field and more generally in healthcare models. Of course, this implicit broader rejection of “Sports Psychiatry” as a medical specialty speaks volumes concerning Sports definitions as an institution in U.S. and global society.

Relatedly, this Webinar addresses a new formulation of Sports and Neurology. First, I take issue with the field called “Sports Neurology”. Again, I would transpose the words to the Neurology of Sports which speaks to the fact that Sports is sugar coated as “normal”. I believe it obviously offers certain benefits to participants and fans, but it is not something like “reading” or “family picnics”. Sugar coating is a double-edged term given the obesity epidemic in the nation despite the massive devotion to Sports. That deserves its own research project but will be in some way addressed in viewing physical disorders, Sports, Neurology and Psychoanalysis. I have written two books related to neurological issues linked to Sports; one focuses on what I label the primal Neuroanthropology of Sports; the other ties Psychoanalysis (among other disciplines) to the Neurology of Sports. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is an extremely current topic and public health problem in American life. The drivers for infirmity with CTE or potentially risking its occurrence have heretofore not been fully addressed. I believe Psychoanalysis can help to elucidate such pathways.

Significance

However, there is far more to the Psychoanalysis and the Neurology of Sports which express the primary conceptual research goal of the project related to the brain and the mind.

That goal is to explore the brain/mind interface particularly as related to neurological and psychoanalytic constructs (established and emerging) in pursuit of a more comprehensive and profound understanding of the institution known as Sports.

The impact of this proposed research will be to change an existing paradigm that will hopefully transform clinical practice in both Neurology and Psychoanalysis. This is an initiative to revolutionize our appreciation of Sports as not only a “non-given” but as a societal underpinning with major neurological and psychoanalytical derivations and implications involving both diagnosis and treatment.

Violence and Physical Injury linked to Play is what plagues Sports now. However we need far more than Sports Psychology game time strategies and Brain MRIs after concussions; we require in depth research into “sports pathogenesis”, as this project can at least launch, in exploring psychoanalytical, neuroanthropological, neurophysiological and neurochemical triggers to this “institutionalized Play on steroids(sometimes literally)”.

This is a broad charge of this research. As noted, the scope of Sports, as will be delineated below, is far ranging and will involve many other subtopics in this research as well.

Innovation

Novel theoretical concepts to be advanced in the Webinar include:

  • Psychoanalysis has a heretofore minimized, neglected or yet to be uncovered role in the institution of Sports worldwide and very much in U.S. Sports.
  • The intercalation of Psychoanalysis and Neurology particularly in articulating Sports roots and foundations must become a new interdisciplinary field within the broader domain of Sports academia and clinically related practice.
  • Sports tradition on all levels need a revamping as a result of brain/mind realizations concerning human wellbeing increasingly threatened by Sports injury and addiction.

Background

It is valuable to note that in PubMed the online medical library, only 59 references appear for Neuropsychoanalysis and zero appear for Psychoneuroanalysis.

This by itself illustrates that the interplay between Psychoanalysis and Neurology is embryonic and requires far more research and conceptual formulations.

Equally striking is the PubMed yield for the terms Sports and Psychoanalysis in a single search box. Only 25 references appear.

Simply searching “Sports” in PubMed yields about 422,000 references and “Sports Neurology” locates 6775 articles.

So current research is heavily dominated by non- neurological and non- psychiatric investigations with research into Sports and Psychoanalysis minimal, the field of Neuropsychoanalysis only slightly better and Psychoneuroanalysis, a key aspect of this interdisciplinary project, essentially a pioneering effort.

Noteworthy is the broad brushing of a few of the 25 articles yielded with a “Sports and Psychoanalysis” search.

Seven were before 2000 with three in the 90‟s, two in the 80‟s one in the 70‟s and one (out of Brazil in 1960) in the 1960‟s. Thereafter in 1960 and through most of 1972 there no published articles relating to Sports and Psychoanalysis with the 1972 article not clearly related to the pairing of these topics as it was about the psychodynamics in rheumatism. We had the 1968 race protests by the American Olympic track stars in Mexico City in 1968 and the murder of the Israeli Olympic athletes in the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. A specific research article on either of these critical world events relating to Psychoanalysis and Sports does not appear. Even if such an interspecialty matter were addressed and not uncovered in the PubMed search, the jury verdict is clear. There was obliviousness to these interrelated subjects then and an anosognosia that has largely persisted to this day.

The rare investigations and articles in the 90‟s to date included a memoir with the common refrain that “I wasn’t good enough to be a pro athlete, so I became something else.” Another was also tied to individual participation in a sport (figure skating) and seemed to focus on psychological elements needed to master it (in line with “Sports Psychology” in the PubMed search box yielding nearly 12,700 hits).

There was an isolated investigation on mind issues in Extreme Sports that does dabble into the neurological with the concept of “ultimate movement experiences”, one on the martial arts and another on gambling related to Sports and the mind with the last overview of the rarely uttered “Sports Psychiatry” field published in 1992.

That 1992 work by Begel in the list immediately below did call for “more clinical studies of athletes, especially in the realms of childhood traumas, competitive issues and mental illnesses. Because of the close relationship of mental and physical phenomena in sports and because athletic behaviors are often precisely measurable, athletics may constitute a fruitful area for psychiatric research.”

Now only 31 years later and a number of years in the making (as per my compilation of material in Neurology, Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry among other fields in advancing my two recent books), I would change the phrase “may constitute” to “do constitute” in that assessment which strongly supports this research effort.

Above Referenced Bibliography

1: Dervin D. A psychoanalysis of sports. Psychoanal Rev. 1985. Summer;72(2):277-99. PMID: 2413494.

2: Immonen T, Brymer E, Davids K, Liukkonen J, Jaakkola T. An Ecological Conceptualization of Extreme Sports. Front Psychol. 2018 Jul 24;9:1274. doi:

10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01274. PMID: 30087641; PMCID: PMC6066723.

3: Dobrowolski R, Pezdek K. Movement as a Somaesthetic Source of Subjectivity. Front Psychol. 2021 Aug 30;12:688296. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.688296. PMID: 34526932; PMCID: PMC8437129.

4: Ritunnano R, Stanghellini G, Fernandez AV, Feyaerts J, Broome M. Applied ontology for phenomenological psychopathology? A cautionary tale. Lancet Psychiatry. 2022 Oct;9(10):765-766. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(22)00301-7. PMID: 36116444.

5: Ahumada JL. Unbridled! Thoughts on times of self-begetting and violence. Am J Psychoanal. 2021 Sep;81(3):301-325. doi: 10.1057/s11231-021-09298-8. PMID: 34282259.

6: Begel D. An overview of sport psychiatry. Am J Psychiatry. 1992. May;149(5):606-14. doi: 10.1176/ajp.149.5.606. PMID: 1575249.

7: Schweitzer RD, Glab H, Brymer E. The Human-Nature Experience: A Phenomenological- Psychoanalytic Perspective. Front Psychol. 2018 Jun 14;9: 969.

8: Bondarev D, Barkoukis V, Lazuras L, Bochaver K, Oudra D, Theodorou N. Behaviors and Beliefs Related to Whistleblowing Against Doping in Sport: A

Cross-National Study. Front Psychol. 2022 May 3;13:835721. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.835721. PMID: 35592154; PMCID: PMC9112761.

9: Shengold L. Competition and postural confrontation in life, sports, and psychoanalytic treatment–illustrated clinically and in relation to Vladimir Nabokov. Psychoanal Q. 2008 Apr;77(2):403-31. doi:

10.1002/j.2167-4086.2008.tb00346.x. PMID: 18512360. 10: Carvalho, O. [Psychoanalysis of football and other games]. Hospital (Rio J).

1960 Jan;57:109-35. Portuguese. PMID: 13808080.

11: Woolway T, Elbe AM, Barkoukis V, Bingham K, Bochaver K, Bondarev D, Hudson A, Kronenberg L, Lazuras L, Mallia L, Ntovolis Y, Zelli A, Petróczi A. One Does Not Fit All: European Study Shows Significant Differences in Value-Priorities in Clean Sport. Front Sports Act Living. 2021 May 24;3:662542. doi: 10.3389/fspor.2021.662542. PMID: 34109312; PMCID: PMC8181163.

12: Dommisse J. The psychological effects of Apartheid psychoanalysis: social, moral and political influences. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 1986 Summer;32(2):51-63.

doi: 10.1177/002076408603200207. PMID: 3733349.

13: Lazuras L, Barkoukis V, Bondarev D, Ntovolis Y, Bochaver K, Theodorou N, Bingham K. Whistleblowing Against Doping Misconduct in Sport: A Reasoned Action Perspective With a Focus on Affective and Normative Processes. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2021 May 19;43(4):285-297. doi: 10.1123/jsep.2020-0122. PMID: 34010806.

14: Barkoukis V, Bondarev D, Lazuras L, Shakverdieva S, Ourda D, Bochaver K, Robson A. Whistleblowing against doping in sport: A cross-national study on the effects of motivation and sportspersonship orientations on whistleblowing intentions. J Sports Sci. 2021 May;39(10):1164-1173. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2020.1861740. Epub 2020 Dec 18. PMID: 33337975.

15: Georgiou K, Winter D, Davies S, Katsiana A. “But Who Knows What Autism Is?” Negotiating the Notion of Autism During Free Associative Narrative Interviews

with Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists. Mater Sociomed. 2021 Jun;33(2):138-144. doi: 10.5455/msm.2021.33.138-144. PMID: 34483743; PMCID: PMC8385723.

16: Caillon J, Grall-Bronnec M, Perrot B, Leboucher J, Donnio Y, Romo L, Challet-Bouju G. Effectiveness of At-Risk Gamblers’ Temporary Self-Exclusion from Internet Gambling Sites. J Gambl Stud. 2019 Jun;35(2):601-615. doi: 10.1007/s10899-018-9782-y. PMID: 29974308.

17: Mercader-Rubio I, Gutiérrez Ángel N, Silva S, Moisão A, Brito-Costa S. Relationships between somatic anxiety, cognitive anxiety, self-efficacy, and emotional intelligence levels in university physical education students. Front Psychol. 2023 Jan 12;13:1059432. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1059432. PMID: 36710846; PMCID: PMC9877538.

18: Trinkler I, Chéhère P, Salgues J, Monin ML, Tezenas du Montcel S, Khani S, Gargiulo M, Durr A. Contemporary Dance Practice Improves Motor Function and Body Representation in Huntington’s Disease: A Pilot Study. J Huntingtons Dis. 2019;8(1):97-110. doi: 10.3233/JHD-180315. PMID: 30776016.

19: Engelsrud G, Øien I, Nordtug B. Being present with the patient-A critical

investigation of bodily sensitivity and presence in the field of physiotherapy.

Physiother Theory Pract. 2019 Oct;35(10):908-918. doi:10.1080/09593985.2018.1460431. Epub 2018 Apr 12. PMID: 29648913.

20: Dufresne T, Genosko G. Jones on ice: psychoanalysis and figure skating. Int

J Psychoanal. 1995 Feb;76 ( Pt 1):123-33. PMID: 7775026.

21: Birnbaum S, Hogrel JY, Porcher R, Portero P, Clair B, Eymard B, Demeret S, Bassez G, Gargiulo M, Louët E, Berrih-Aknin S, Jobic A, Aegerter P, Thoumie P, Sharshar T; MGEX Study Group. The benefits and tolerance of exercise in myasthenia gravis (MGEX): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial.

Trials. 2018 Jan 18;19(1):49. doi: 10.1186/s13063-017-2433-2. PMID: 29347991; PMCID: PMC5774148.

22: Lerner PM. From Freud to Gehrig to Rapaport to DiMaggio. J Pers Assess. 2004 Aug;83(1):1-13. doi: 10.1207/s15327752jpa8301_01. PMID: 15271591.

23: Zander W. Die psychodynamische Situation beim Palindromen Rheumatismus [The psychodynamic situation in palindromic rheumatism]. Z Psychosom Med Psychoanal. 1972 Jul-Sep;18(3):233-43. German. PMID: 4538146.

24: Bouchard JP. Proposition de réforme de la formation des psychologues en France et dans l’Union européenne [A proposal for reforming psychologists’ training in France and in the European Union]. Encephale. 2009 Feb;35(1):18-24.

French. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2007.11.008. Epub 2008 Apr 2. PMID: 19250989.

25: Twemlow SW, Sacco FC. The application of traditional martial arts practice

and theory to the treatment of violent adolescents. Adolescence. 1998

Fall;33(131):505-18. PMID: 9831868.

EXPANDED WEBINAR DISCUSSION

It would be valuable to sample some areas of Primal Neuro-Sports and the Psychoanalysis of Sports and then attempt to link how their delineation and various psychoanalytic and neurological components help to define this research initiative.

Klein, Winnicott and Freud advanced constructs on infantile rage, projective identification, play, its relation to reality and primitive behavioral drivers to include totemism and the death wish.

All of these sports linked domains will be tied to this research. Some have been broached in the two books I have recently published…Primal Neuroanthropology: A Neuro-Sports Hypothesis2 and Primal Sports II: A Psychoanalytical, Psychoneurological and Neurosociological Treatise with New Game, Myth, Philosophical and Satire Extras3.

Others will be expanded upon in the course of developing the project.

Then there is the expounding upon essential lynchpins of Neuroanatomy, Neurochemistry, Neurophysiology and disease states such as Autism and Tourette’s with ties to sports.

Not all such elaborations have been delineated elsewhere. Some have but require different perspectives. The “sidedness” aspect of Neurology and how that links to crucial left-right issues in sports will be researched though it too along with other neurological and neuroanthropological themes have been opened in the aforementioned two books.

But, it is the overarching extrapolation of the psychoanalytical, the neurological, the neuroanthropological and related interdisciplinary themes such as the philosophical ( for example, existentialism, as per Breaking News from “Eye on Earth”-From the Wires of the Associated Alien Press the essay below from my second book3) that will allow new syntheses about these Sports underpinnings.

Also very worthy of development are mythological links to Sports. This also ties in heavily with “Sports Theology” if not the Religion called Sports. A recent tragedy on a high school football field led to proclamations that the boy who died playing the game was now in a “better place” as a result of having the privilege of playing the game. Then there are the historical battles in Greek and Egyptian Mythology that align with the super competitive professional matches as both are metaphorically battles to the death with various gods (deities in Mythology or historical legends in Sports) in the backdrop.

In Primal Sports II: A Psychoanalytical, Psychoneurological and Neurosociological Treatise with New Game, Myth, Philosophical and Satire Extras3, the conceptualization of New Games is added to what in fact is an arbitrary compendium of traditional Sports. This speaks to a childhood related creativity matter as a foundation for the invention of different Games and Sports. More of the linkages between Play and Sports need exploration as through Sports evolution in terms of rules, records and leagues we often forget or deny that the Sport itself that has attained such heights is a purely arbitrary invention of some Abner Doubleday (baseball) or James Naismith (basketball).

From whence comes a violent game such as American football? Sadism of course may relate to the “red badge of courage” obtained through war. I have broached that in Primal Neuroanthropology: A Neuro-Sports Hypothesis2 and can expand upon the violent basis for certain sports as related to some drive to induce physical injury and/or death on another or upon prey.

But there is also Masochism. In studying various Native American and Asian populations, Dimitris Xygalatas in the journal Sapiens from October 4, 2019, makes the following observation:

People derive meaning and purpose from suffering, which is why they engage in marathons, mountain climbing, or ice swimming. And just like those activities, extreme rituals can have exhilarating effects by triggering the release of endogenous opioids (natural chemicals produced by our bodies that provide a sense of euphoria). Those chemicals and other physiological responses to extreme exertion are responsible for the experience, often reported by marathon runners, known as the runner’s high. Studies show that such effects are amplified when people engage in these activities as part of a large group rather than alone.

Thus, in line with a Freudian “death instinct”, is there a “masochistic instinct” that serves as a driver for violent sports supplemented by the previously noted sadism and deifications?

Additionally worthy of intense review and delineation is the subject of “Humor, Satire and Sports”. This actually relates to the childhood issue because at its very core, Sports is silly. So if it’s silly, does it serve a purpose via some sort of emotional release generated by the nonsense of the rules and rituals of Sports? There would be an analogy to Play in children serving to induce happiness simply by participating in some “hide and seek” or “tag, you’re it” activity. Is that raison d’etre of Play extended into the adult world of Sports?

An important foundation in this research arena is the work of Donald Winnicott on Play7. Particularly germane would be analysis of his seminal work, Play and Reality and its relationship to a third key aspect of human nature as per Young, Transitional Phenomena and Transitional Objects.8

Brain stem/Limbic System activity can be primed via the fun and jocularity of Sports competition in addition to the apparent uplifting benefits of balance altering movements in Sports (such as spinning and jumping).

Of course, Humor and Satire constitute far more complex themes than joking around. This again has an ontological basis and correlates with language development in man which in turn led to various forms including satire.

Intriguingly, overhand throwing like language is approximately 50,000 years old so as highlighted in Primal Neuroanthropology: A Neuro-Sports Hypothesis there is a co- phylogeny of language and a critical Sports motion (the overhand throw also part of weaponry development (long distance killing with spears) and javelin tossing in the Olympics).

And as noted, also derived from language is Satire. Humor often involves surprise and deception in how stories are conveyed. As alluded to in both books, “the hunt” often involves these two qualities as well. In addition, the uniforms of the hunt, comedy garb in many settings such as vaudeville and Sports share laughable features. All of this demands more analysis and research.

It will become clear that the Neurological/Neuroanthropological and the Psychoanalytic are at times standing alone whereas at other times able to be merged and speaking to Neuropsychoanalysis.

Summating, it is neither the fusion nor the individual subject matter delineation that is of overwhelming value. It is the introduction of research, which has major new depth and potential for profound ongoing research that launches this Webinar.

From The Primal Neuroanthropology of Sports by K.B.V. Gross, M.D.:

Human Nature and by extension Sports are comprised of “psychotic anxiety”, “projective identification” and “transitional objects‟.

The Primal Neuroanthropology of Sports begets its Psychoanalysis. This proposal addresses that and more.

Sports is well beyond a pursuit, a hobby, or a pastime. It is even beyond what many construe as an institution because most would not consider the brain and mind as simply such.

The brain and mind are our playing fields. Sports is at least that.

Young8 speaks of three keys to the human psychic condition- psychotic anxiety, projective identification and transitional objects.

This work will detail how these components are so integral to Sports, in fact how they define sports if not explain sports. Delineation of original new Sports (“Mega Sports”), sports satire and novel psychoneurological-philosophical ideation will be delivered as well.

It is fair to say that few human activities can so easily present our primitive selves or primal neuroanthropology “under one roof” as can Sports. In fact, there may be no human activities so dedicated in or out of our consciousness to accomplish this.

Perhaps clubs for swingers or orgies can compete for that primal title but it’s the uniforms and the outside fan base that they don’t have. And those are primal too.

The sexual act is construed as “the primal scene”. Sports may have such an entry in the boxing ring or in the numerous non-sexual or near sexual acts of “primality”. Like Sex, Sports is a saleable human commodity and a key neuropsychosocial entity.

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From Primal Sports ll: A Psychoanalytical, Psychoneurological and Neurosociological Treatise – by K.B.V. Gross, M.D.

Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality. Neurosis is unwanted and often masks fear of reality. So, it would seem with this term “psychotic anxiety”, we are introducing an oxymoron because psychosis and neurosis are intrinsically separate.

However, an individual with psychosis can still have anxiety and a neurotic individual can have intrusive psychotic thoughts although be predominantly neurotic.

What Young refers to in the Kleinian definition of this term is a primitive fear of destruction that would indeed appear to be part of our neurology, our subcortical selves in the areas of our brain stems and limbic systems.

If the fear is psychotic it is based in a perception outside of reality and in that sense it‟s primal akin to infantile interpretation of a reality relying on no consciousness or real world-based awareness. Anxiety itself is the vehicle for the psychotic reaction in the infant whether the manifestation is crying or agitation.

So one then wonders how is this some overarching psychic principle for adults? Whether psychotic, neurotic or neither, it is fair to say that all of us harbor death fears although they are usually not palpable or even in our consciousness. They are latent but they are still in some drivers for example of success while we have these few years on earth. All of this is coincident with the Freudian concept of “repression” as a mainstay of human navigation through what is encountered in life experience.

So, the obvious question derived thereof is “What’s psychotic about that?” It’s reality based though outside our immediate realization. One need only look at 9/11 or the Holocaust to discern events spawned by a kind of sociological psychosis that remain within our own memories. “Going about our business” (also known as civilization) may be our protection from such recollections that happened and endanger us the same way that every time we enter an automobile, there’s a death possibility that can occur based on someone else’s “psychotic” handling of the wheel due to sleepiness or the actions of a driver coming at us at 100 miles an hour while intoxicated.

But the psychotic part of our anxiety can be attributed to the elaborate burial system (again civilization as we have made it) we construct to dampen the death fear in addition to the over stated fear itself.

Ontologically, that reaction might well be built into our limbic circuitry and carried into the post-infantile years of consciousness.

But there are layers. The embellishments of careers, the arts, the sciences. Indeed many might label creativity in part psychotic or at least perpetuated by psychotic ideation.

However, we may not have dug deep enough. Klein and Freud refer to fantasy and hallucination. These are part and parcel of the mental lives of many with psychosis. But are they also “normally” intrinsic as a function of the human brain/mind duality.

Sports may provide the answer. Yes, they are. The fantasy is obvious. Is it somewhat akin to the primitive imagination of the infant whose thoughts we will never be able to ascertain? Perhaps. No doubt delusions and illusions reign in these extremely young beings- the mother leaves for ten seconds and the fear is she’s gone forever. The bad tasting food is initially perceived to be the mother’s breast and elicits hysteria. But hallucinations?

It’s noteworthy that the hallucinations of the patient with schizophrenia are almost entirely auditory. What an easy primal link can be assembled. In a world where no language is understood, where sounds of a fire engine and sounds of loud music can’t be distinguished with meaning, how understandable is the hallucinatory life of an infant whose very existence is composed of vast numbers of intrusive sounds begging for an interpretation and instigating anxiety.

So, this Freudian “subjective interpretation of experience” constitutes the primal psychosis with its attendant anxiety, fear and loathing.

It is contended in Primal Neuroanthropology that Sports constitute a retrogression, perhaps as retrogressive as the infantilization of advanced dementia. Indeed, amid the “fanfare” of chants in the stands(understandable only in the context of the match itself) plus the shouts and yelps on the playing field, are we recapturing the auditory hallucinations of infantile psychosis. And do we add to that a pleasure-pain competition (the breast- no breast tournament) comprised of phantasmagorical players in uniforms we designated “psychotically” to maintain some sort of coping strategy while viewing and dealing with those we witness around us through our own naiveté as one year olds?

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The secret perverse fantasy of Sports would seem wise to reiterate an earlier definition of Projective Identification.

Claims for the role of the concept of projective identification in human nature are very exciting, uplifting and constructive. Yet this same mechanism is seen to be operative at the heart of autism. Projective identification is a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby a person, believing something false about another, relates to that other person in such a way that the other person alters their behavior to make the belief true. The second person is influenced by the projection and begins to behave as though he or she is in fact actually characterized by the projected thoughts or beliefs. This is a process that generally happens outside the awareness of both parties involved, though this has been debated.

Young8

Whether or not there is empathy towards a squad one is defeating or players on one’s own team needing a helping hand or sorrow towards the plight of a losing team one follows at the stadium or on TV, the is a relationship both between competitors and more remotely between fandom and players that revolves around the psychoneurosis of Projective Identification.

And individualized P.I. between trainer and player may have occurred recently when a major league baseball player suffered cracked ribs during a massage. Subconscious sadism at play by the trainer complicated by some degree of masochism by the recipient athlete?

Beyond this is the symbolization of the team and what it represents, the game and its larger meaning and the league in the context of the history of the sport.

Without projective identification, without the birth and maturation of competing enemies, no such grand scheme could be generated.

This attribution of the taboo if not the perverse to one’s opponent drives the opponent’s response and so instigates not only gamesmanship but longstanding rivalries built on confabulated hatred between teams from nearby cities such as Yankees and Red Sox or Cubs and Cardinals.

And the “inadvertent excessive massages” can also become perverse as was the case with the overstepping in the shower by a coach (Sandusky) who became sexual with players under his supervision.

It must be reiterated that on the level of the nonsensical and the surrealistic, the sport itself is perverse. A man strikes a ball that lands in another place. In the stadium and there’s uproarious anger or joy.

WHITE SPHERE HITS CHAIR- THOUSANDS MAKE NOISES3
By Kenneth Bruce Van Gross, MD
Breaking News from “Eye on Earth”-From the Wires of the Associated Alien Press

A black man wearing something like pajamas took a wooden club and struck a small white sphere today that had been thrown near him by another man in pajamas.

The sphere went over a fence in a circular place where many stood making vocalizations such as “ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh”, like animals. Others slapped their palms together rhythmically, either making vocalizations or not making vocalizations………………

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There is indeed an existential vapidness to the Projective Identification driver, this tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing we follow so passionately, filled with hidden balls, ritualistic compulsions and grunts, groans and screams by players and fans alike.

The spawning of narcissism during the P.I. taken to excess and the perpetration of hatred for “the other” would seem to be warning signs that this mental backbone for the Super Bowl, the World Series and all else below it needs reigning in to insure a better quality of existence.

Attempts are made in this regard through some downplaying of “winning at any costs” and elevating the simple participation but at its core, Sports is war and Sports through mechanisms such as psychotic anxiety and projective identification encapsulates and forever replays our root behavior as primitives in pre-history and as infants.

The player pointing to the heavens upon hitting a home run, the alleged meaning of the score and the assignment of “champions”…..Of what? Cricket, horseshoes, pro football, tidily winks? what’s the difference? We can invent new games.

Here are added subject extracted from the seminal works on the subjects of Sports Psychoanalysis and Sports Neuroanthropology

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Broad Webinar Subject Matter derived from chapter listings from: Primal Sports II: A Psychoanalytical, Psychoneurological and Neurosociological Treatise with New Game, Myth, Philosophical and Satire Extras3

PSYCHOTIC ANXIETY

  • Overviewing the Subject
  • The Psyche’s Role in Sports
  • Sports as Fantasy
  • Added Syntheses
  • A Synergistic Relationship-

The Psychosis-Anxiety Intertwining of Sports

PROJECTIVE IDENTIFICATION (P.I.)

  • General Principles
  • Lessons of the Mirror Neurons
  • Posturing and Movements linked to the I. Driver
  • Taboo and Destructive
  • Aggression, Jealousy and Love-Hate
  • Unions, Symbols, Perversions and Excesses-

the P.I. Total Package supplemented by an Existential Paradigm

  • Bionian New Wrinkles and a Denouement

TRANSITIONAL OBJECT (T.O.) & TRANSITIONAL PHENOMENA (T.P.)

  • Out of the Starting Block- What are they? What do they represent? what is their value?
  • Maturation of the Transitional Ideation
  • Moving from The Concept of Victory via Psychotic Anxiety and Projective Identification to “Coming to Grips” with the Ball and Game Themselves -Masks, Fetishism and Freud
  • Creativity, Art, Perversion, Science, Religion and Sports
  • O. and T.P. Function to assuage the Waking Nightmare
  • Transitional Thoughts on the Sports Experience and its Meaning

We return to Consciousness, the last chapter in Primal Neuroanthropology: A Neuro- Sports Hypothesis2

Perhaps that is the great unknown that unites research themes in this project and guarantees years of delineation.

In Sports there is a “state of unconsciousness” or at least reduced consciousness.

This constitutes what has been called “the flow state” during single minded participation in athletics.

Thus, it is a kind of mind state akin to that recovered in a psychoanalytic session wherein the patient journeys to another time in their life oblivious of the concrete realities ofthe consultation room

That flow state can also compare to a hypnotized state or a version of same as described in Psychiatrist Brian Weiss’s book Many Lives, Many Masters6 during which a patient retrieves a past existence (not clearly real or imagined).

In exploring, researching and analyzing Psychoanalytical and Neurological Foundations of Sports, issues of Consciousness will be high on the list of subjects contained therein. There is also the matter of a consciousness semi-covert that is in part responsible for the intellectual development of Sports via the complex games, sports, competitions such as the World Cup and leagues with their associated massive compendium of traditions and statistics.

What is conscious and what is not conscious related to Sports, its evolution and derivation must be viewed as a critical backbone for the project as there are clear relationships to Psychoanalysis and Neurology in describing mental and physical phenomenology in the Sports institution.

The roots of our behavior-motoric, extrapyramidal, sensory, psychic (including Freudian Piagetian, Jungian plus spiritual/ raw cognitive/intellectual /paranormal elements), can be manifested on the playing fields. A great deal of what is noted there is subconscious or unconscious. In that way, Sports is a kind of quasi-revealed crucible as noted by Merriam- Webster in its definition of “crucible”: a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/crucible

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The April 27, 2024 Webinar Topic Menu:

  1. A new psychoneuroanalysis- how psychoanalytic constructs can be operative on the playing fields and what sports can teach us about disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s as per different neurodegenerative disease links within the sports activity itself
  2. How concussion, brain trauma and spinal cord trauma may be in some way sought after
  3. Why Sports in the first place and why the particular “classic” team and individual sports?
  4. Cross –Cultural sameness and differentiation among the What is behind it?
  5. The concept that sports reflect a primitive state- what is its neuroanthropology and how can it be understood through basic understanding of infants and the elderly
  6. The concept that sports is derived from basic psychoanalytical frameworks whether archetypical representations of warriors/athletes, whether decompensated violent infant responses to breast interactions that can influence the competitive state, whether issues related to transitional objects as per Winnicott, whether Kleinian projective displays and their establishment of love hate relationships towards opponents and whether Freud’s “psychotic anxiety” can best explain the merging of sports neuroses and psychoses components
  7. The concept that sports is derived from animal behavior and how that is evident
  8. The concept that sports is driven by denial, death wish and violent urges
  9. The concept that the competitive drive is key to sports
  10. The concept that addictive behavior drives sports reward systems via dopamine
  11. The concept that ritualistic behavior drives sports- links to OCD and some features of Tourette’s.
  12. The concept that suffering and pain is a driver for sports participation and fandom
  13. The concept that balance altering movement, vertigo, jumping , spinning is a key component to the yearning to participate in sports
  14. The concept that cessation of pain and endorphin surges fighting pain during exercise drives the participation need in sports
  15. The interplay of taboo elements, humor, satire in sports
  16. The enigmatic sexuality of sports and its reaches into masculine and feminine traits via our understanding of certain models of autism
  17. The dream and sports as related as well to the unconscious
  18. The entire matter of consciousness and sports- how it applies and what subconscious and unconscious features are rampant in sports
  19. The Munchausen by proxy effect between sports parents and their assignments of glory seeking for their children/athletes
  20. The Neurosociology of the Sports Institution- how it represents a Total Outline microcosm as per Malinowski
  21. Team identification, Anthropomorphizing and Deification in Sports- how they intertwine and what they suggest concerning issues of tribalism, pet ownership and religion‟
  22. Neurological disease, Psychoanalysis and Sports- are we creating altered humans through brain injury and aberrant appreciations of self; The body as self in Sports as opposed to the sequestered mind- As ex-football player and TV star Michael Strahan noted about heavy athletic participation- “Your body will not like it”
  23. Distinguishing exercise, sports and games- psychoneuroanalysis
  24. Retrogression in Sports- how vital is it for the human to regress phylogenically and ontologically
  25. Creativity, Play and Reality- How can Sports speak to this intertwining and how new game and new sport development may spark a societal evolution if not revolution
  26. Sports as fantasy compounded by fantasy sports and gambling
  27. Schizophrenia, Schizotopy and Sports- key intersections- plus Mania
  28. Cybersports and our humanoid future- the coming E-Sports craze
  29. The media and medical profession’s role and interpretations of sports and its headlines
  30. Celebrity culture- the sports figure, the actor and others in the news- intertwining of psychoanalytical underpinnings and manifestations
  31. Sports as a scholarly vehicle to educate about math, basic science, neuroscience, psychiatry and psychoanalysis
  32. Existential formulations and sports- Is it about non-being and nothingness masquerading as a contrived treasure trove of statistics and records? Do we need a bridge to nowhere via sports
  33. Sports, Abstractions and Piaget – is there are childhood calling for a concretely understood order
  34. Innings, vs. a play clock vs. sudden death- are there Psychoneuroanalytical foundations?
  35. Mythology and Literary bursts –Is Sports a Homeric poem? An heroic odyssey in eternal replay mode- instant or more prolonged over the length of playing seasons

REFERENCES

  1. Freud, Sigmund. Totem and Taboo; by A. A. Brill. New York: Moffat, Yard & Co., 1918; Bartleby.com, 2010
  2. Gross, K. Primal NeuroanthropologyA Neurosports Hypothesis IPBooks, New York 2019
  3. Gross, K Primal Sports ll- A Psychoanalytical, Neurosociological, New Game, Myth and Satire Laden Treatise- book published by IPBooks, New York, Fall 2019
  4. Klein, Melanie (1952). “Some theoretical conclusions regarding the emotional life of the infant”. Envy and gratitude and other works 1946-1963. Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis (published 1975).
  5. Malinowski, Bronislaw, Argonauts of the western Pacific; an account of native enterprise and adventure in the archipelagoes of Melanesian New Guinea, London, G. Routledge & Sons; New York, E.P. Dutton & Co., 1922
  6. Weiss, B. Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives Touchstone; New York (1988)
  7. Winnicott, DW Playing and Reality (London: Tavistock, 1971)
  8. Young, R. Whatever Happened to Human Nature London: Process Press Ltd. 1997