DR Hangin Diagnosis Bobby Fischer

  1.          10/25/2004 -
       I read a letter in New in Chess, issue 2004/7. It was about Bobby Fischer. The author thinks Bobby is a paranoid schizophrenic. He compares Bobby Fischer with John Nash, the man from the movie "A Beautiful Mind."  I’ve seen other articles claming that Bobby Fischer is a paranoid schizophrenic.  I don’t buy that assessment of Bobby Fischer. Hangin gives this issue the LEKO it deserves. I think Kasparov has the right take on Bobby. He said Bobby’s problems stem from his extreme individualism.  That’s the key to understanding Fischer. True, Bobby has the signs of paranoia, but it's based on solid foundation. 
         What is Paranoia – A psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution with or without grandeur, often strenuously defended with apparent logic and reason. Extreme, irrational distrust of others. There are mentally ill people walking around today, who have delusions of persecution by the government. With true paranoid schizophrenics, you put the cart before the horse. They have an unfounded sense of persecution.  That's what we thought about Bobby as well. Well, Bobby is being persecuted; he’s in a Japanese jail right now. Bobby has been in trouble with the law since 1992. When he played a chess match in Yugoslavia against the US government's orders. 

        The Rene Chung article recently disclosed that Bobby came under FBI surveillance very early in is chess career. So in Bobby's case the cart is not before the horse. Bobby came under suspicion because he traveled to the Soviet Union, during the height of the cold war. This is the start of Bobby's persecution, in his early teens. Both Bobby and his mother Regina were under FBI surveillance. Now when you are under this kind of pressure, you can feel it. It also causes sane people to see conspiracy where none exists.  This type of pressure can lead sane people to have irrational thoughts. Bobby sees a conspiracy where maybe one does not exist. So if Bobby is paranoid it is based on solid foundation. His paranoia is understandable, it's not clinical. 

         Bobby also has not received a square deal on his books that he authored. Bobby has demanded payment from the former Soviet Union for unpaid royalties. So Bobby developed a natural distrust of Lawyers. Due to these reasons Bobby has a bizarre view of the world. This could be the reason for his problems with the storage facilities and his hatred of Jews. His views about Jews are horrible, baseless, but shared by many sane people.   Bobby’s admiration of Hitler is also horrible but also shared by many sane people. Bobby told Larry Evans that he admired Hitler because he forced his will on the world. Bobby wanted to force his will on the chess world.

         Bobby does not want people to profit from him. The key to understanding Bobby is to know he’s a survivalist. Just like many of the people in the US, who are anti federal government.  Bobby is a frontiersman. He doesn’t believe he should have to share his money with the government. I think this attitude was crested by Bobby becoming self-sufficient at an early age. He was just in his late teens when he traveled the world and played a mans game. He proved that he was more man than the men he beat. Bobby was one of the first early childhood prodigies, who were allowed to pursue a chess career while still a child. Sammy Reshevsky was also a prodigy, but he took time off from chess to get an education. Sammy picked his career up when he was in his early 20’s.  Capablanca also showed early chess talent. However, his father prevented Capablanca from playing chess, until he was older. Capablanca career took off when he went to college in New York City.  I think Bobby felt that he did not get the proper respect from his contemporaries. Bobby as a young boy said, no one helps me; I win because of my skills.  Bobby showed his independence at an early age.  A Young Bobby got this I’ll show you attitude. 

         Chess is a game that can give players paranoia. The object of the game, as Fischer puts it, is to crush your opponents mind.  Your opponents are plotting and scheming to defeat you. And it was later proven to be true that the soviets conspired against Bobby at Curacao in 1963. The soviets took easy draws against each other to conserve energy and played a tough game against Bobby.  Fischer’s distrust of the press is also natural. Read the book “Bobby Fischer vs. the rest of the world.”   Bobby’s problems also stem from the fact that he used 98% of his mental capacity for chess and 2% for other stuff. So Bobby personality did not develop, as it should have.   Bobby’s independence was established early, when he would stay out all-night playing chess in Manhattan chess clubs. Bobby's mother would have to go get him and bring him home. Bobby worked hard to defeat the soviet chess machine that conspired to defeat him. This might have caused Bobby not to risk his title again. This might have driven Bobby from the game. Bobby knew the whole soviet chess machine was out to get him. Bobby knew chess was a propaganda tool used by the soviets. Whenever Bobby adjourned a position, he knew the entire soviet machine was working on the position. That’s a tremendous amount of pressure. Bobby also wanted to tell the soviet machine, hey, I am better than you. I showed you. Bobby got his revenge that he was seeking by winning the title in 1972. 

         Now I also heard some stories of Fischer’s bizarre behavior. Like when he removed his fillings, because he was afraid that the soviets were trying to send him messages.  Hey that was an episode from Gilligan's Island, when Gilligan got hit on the head and his fillings helped him receive radio signals. But it has been established that Bobby was under FBI surveillance and the Soviet Chess machine did conspire against him. This kind of pressure could make people do bizarre things. Also the press at one time hounded Fischer, who protects his privacy.  Other players have also exhibited paranoid states and behaviors during tough competitions. Victor Kortchnoi did so in his matches against Karpov and Spassky. Kortchnoi thought he was being influenced by psychokinetic energies coming from DR Zukhar during the 1978 match. Spassky during the 1977 candidate match against Kortchnoi felt that Kortchnoi was trying to hypnotize him. Spassky decided to not to sit at the board. He would analyze the position from a private booth. Kortchnoi also got paranoid and protested.  I certainly would not consider either of them mental ill. Tremendous pressure can cause the sane to act irrationally or to have irrational thoughts.


              Bobby does not sound depressed in that Japanese jail. He’s fighting. He is talking about baseball. He challenged President Bush and PM Koizumi. I don’t think Bobby is a paranoid schizophrenic; there is foundation for his paranoia. Schizophrenics have unfounded beliefs of persecution, they also exhibit really bizarre behaviors and thoughts. Many sane people share many of Fischer’s bizarre thoughts. Those who met Fischer privately, says he acts normally. I think that when the cameras are turn on him, he transforms himself. Just Like Muhammad Ali did when the cameras were on him. I attribute a lot of Bobby's ravings on the Philippine radio station to having the spotlight on him.  Bobby has extreme beliefs. He lashes out at his enemies. He makes irrational comments about his enemies. As I read in the same New In Chess Magazine, so did GM Rueben Fine, who became psychiatrist. This is a common human frailty. It does not indicate psychosis. Bobby’s distrustful of his fellow chess players is normal as well, they are his potential opponents. He refers to Spassky as a Frenemy. That’s a friend and an enemy.  I think Bobby is fascinated with owns his self worth, but didn’t cash in on it because he didn’t want any one to profit from him. Bobby finally cashed in on his fame during the 1992 match with Spassky. Bobby has his own survivalist view of the world. You don’t bother me. I won’t bother you. 

         If I were to diagnose Bobby I would suggest that he suffers from Bipolar disorder. He is manic-depressive. I would say he’s more on the manic side.  " Bipolar disorder is a recurring psychiatric illness with often devastating symptoms of depression and mania. The disorder, which has been described in highly accomplished individuals such as Theodore Roosevelt, Robert Schumann, Vincent van Gogh, and Sylvia Plath, is highly treatable, however. Despite the chronicity of the illness, effective drugs such as lithium have enabled persons diagnosed with bipolar illness to lead productive lives. "

        For a diagnosis of mania, the patient’s mood can be either elated or irritable. The most common symptoms are grandiosity, racing thoughts, and pressured speech. The patient is also distractible. These symptoms lead to inattention, impatience, inflated self-confidence, grand schemes, excessive spending, impulsive traveling, and reckless driving. “.

        Bobby has shown that he can be easily distracted. He demands complete silence during play. Bobby became irritated by the humming noise of the cameras during 1972 world championship match. Bobby has shown his impatience over the years with organizers. Bobby walked out on a few tournaments because he became irritated or impatient with playing conditions.

         Bobby showed his recklessness when he played a match in 1992 in Yugoslavia in defiance of serious US Law. Bobby, in front of the world press, spits on a US document demanding he not play the match. Bobby goes on Philippine radio station and makes reckless anti-American comments. He even justifies the 9/11 attacks. A fugitive should keep a low profile. Bobby showed his recklessness early in his career when he pulled out of the 1967 Sousse Interzonal while dominating the tournament. Bobby lost out on an earlier attempt at the world championship. Bobby recklessly declines to play in the US championship in 1970. He was upset about the format of the tournament. He knows this event allows him to qualify for the 1972 world championship cycle. Bobby shows his inattention, by not making sure his storage facilities bills were paid. Bobby lost all his memorabilia, when the storage facility confiscated it for non-payment. Bobby showed his inattention by not properly maintaining his land in Florida. He claims he lost the land because he did not pay his lawn care bills. Bobby certainly exhibits an inflated self-confidence.

         He has talked about grand schemes, like all the world championship games have been prearranged since 1978. Bobby stayed at the Polgar's home in the early 1990’s. I recall Susan saying that Bobby was normal except when he talked about certain subjects. Schizophrenics have severe mental problems and they manifest themselves in severe behavioral problems.

          From what I read of various Bobby Fischer sightings, Bobby does not exhibit bizarre behavioral problems. I heard some of Bobby’s comments on the Philippine radio station. They are hard to listen to, because of the hatred he spews. The show is a platform for Bobby’s grand schemes. I attribute his paranoid ravings to the fact that the US government is persecuting him. Also in patients with Mania, the delusions are consistent with their grandiose ideas and schemes but may also be paranoid.  As far a Bobby being schizophrenic, I don’t think a schizophrenic could sit a at chessboard and play a 5-7 hour game without someone noticing bizarre behavior. Case in point Akiba Rubenstein.

        Bobby played a 24 game match in 1972 and 30 game match in 1992. If Bobby had schizophrenia, he would have exhibited bizarre behavior. No such bizarre behaviors have been written about in the press accounts of these 2-month long events. Bobby has impeccable manners at the chessboard. True he complained about cameras and playing conditions. That is not bizarre behavior.  I think you will know a schizophrenic person, not under treatment, when you see one. 

        The writer brings up John Nash, from the movie the beautiful mind. According to the movie Nash saw hallucinations. He saw and talks with imaginary people. Nash even had an imaginary job as a code cracker for the US military. He exhibited bizarre behavior. Bobby does not claim to hear voices or see imaginary people.  Bobby Fischer is a survivalist, whose single-minded dedication to his profession stunted his personal development. Bobby also has showed the symptoms of some one with Bi-polar disorder.  His extreme self-confidence, grand schemes, impatience, irritability, and distractibility are the key factors in this diagnosis. Bobby does not exhibit bizarre behavior. I also think that some of his paranoid ravings can be attributed to the manic side of his illness. I attribute the rest of his paranoid ravings to be based on some solid foundation.  I think any normal sane persons under such distress would also see conspiracies where none existed.  The US government is after all persecuting him for playing chess. Many sane people share Bobby’s bizarre beliefs on Jews, Hitler, and  9/11.  So what are my qualifications to make such a diagnosis? Well I did take several psychology courses in college, including behavior modification and abnormal psychology. Moreover, I did stay at a Holiday Inn recently.  Dr Hangin is also a leading authority in the field of Drawitis.



MIG on Bobby Fischer
Here is a story on Bobby at annoying com 
Rene Chung's Bobby Fischer's pathetic endgame.
the lighter side of Fischer - He challenges Bush and Koizumi
I think he's turning Japanese, I think he's turning Japanese, I really think so
Bipolar Disorder -
Paranoid Schizophrenia
Susan Polgar on Bobby Fischer
Bobby's wife to be - 
1978 World Chess Championship - DR Zukhar
1977 Candidates match
Kasparov's take on Bobby Fischer
Hangin's take on Bobby Fischer's interview ---