1st Edition

Psychoanalytic Perspectives On Intense Involvement in Sports

Edited By Irwin Hirsch, Phillip Blumberg, Robert Watson Copyright 2021
    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    212 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book is a unique volume that brings a variety of psychoanalytic perspectives to the study of sport. It highlights the importance of sports for different individuals and how the function and use of sports can be brought into the consulting room.

    Passionate interest in actively engaging in sports is a universal phenomenon. It is striking that this aspect of human life, prior to this volume, has received little attention in the literature of psychoanalysis. This edited volume is comprised largely of psychoanalysts who are themselves avidly involved with sports. It is suggested that intense involvement in sports prioritizes commitment and active engagement over passivity and that such involvement provides an emotionally tinged distraction from the various misfortunes of life. Indeed, the ups and downs in mood related to athletic victory or defeat often supplant, temporarily, matters in life that may be more personally urgent. Engaging in sports or rooting for teams provides a feeling of community and a sense of identification with like-minded others, even among those who are part of other communities and have sufficient communal identifications.

    This book offers a better psychoanalytic understanding of sports to help us discover more about ourselves, our patients and our culture, and will be of great interest to psychotherapists and psychoanalysts, or anyone with an interest in sport and its link to psychoanalysis and mental health.


    List of Contributors

    Introduction: on intense involvement in sports

    Irwin Hirsch

    Psychoanalytic perspectives on intense involvement in sports

      1. Baseball’s bisexuality
      2. Adrienne Harris

      3. Some reflections on the romance and degradation of sports: watching and metawatching in the changing transitional space of sport
      4. Steven Cooper

      5. Revaluing sports
      6. Don Greif

      7. The sensibility of baseball: structure, imagination, and the resolution of paradox
      8. Stephen Seligman

      9. Serve, smash, and self-states: tennis on the couch and courting Steve Mitchell
      10. Jean Petrucelli

        A psychoanalytic look at sports fandom

      11. The faith of the fan
      12. W. B. Carnochan

      13. A relational view of passion in sports and the group experience
      14. Robert I. Watson, Jr.

      15. Sports—applied psychoanalysis: par excellence
      16. James Hansell 

        Sports and psychoanalytic therapy 

      17. Early adolescence and the search for idealization through basketball and its celebrities: a developmental perspective
      18. Christopher Bonovitz

      19. The athlete’s dream
      20. Howard M. Katz

      21. Recommend aerobic activity to our patients? One psychoanalyst’s perspective
      22. John V. O’Leary

      23. Marathons, mothering, and the maelstrom of trauma: running away with yourself

      Stephanie Roth-Goldberg



    Irwin Hirsch, Ph.D., supervises and teaches at the Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis, the William Alanson White Institute and the NYU Postdoctoral Program and at other psychoanalytic institutes nationally

    Phillip Blumberg, Ph.D., is a faculty member and supervisor at the William Alanson White Institute and Adjunct Associate Professor in the doctoral program in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University.

    Robert I. Watson, Jr., Ph.D., is a supervising psychoanalyst at the William Alanson White Institute and faculty member at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy.

    "This wonderful book is a gift to us all. The editors have done a superb job of bringing together a collection of articles on a fascinating and much neglected topic that are as informative as they are delightful. By exploring the psychological aspects of sports, this book breaks new ground and does so in a way that enriches our understanding of both fields. For sports enthusiasts and all those in the mental health field who have an interest in sports, this is a book to savor and enjoy." - Theodore Jacobs M.D., Training and Supervising Analyst, New York Psychoanalytic Institute

    "At long last, psychoanalysts take a serious and respectful look at sports and sports devotees, both as participants and fans. This long overdue book, authored by sophisticated and experienced psychoanalysts acknowledges sports (play?) as an integral part of life, and a bellwether for understanding gender assembly, group and mob dynamics, and, above all, passion—that irrational impulse that makes our lives meaningful. As contemporary psychoanalytic inquiries tend to do, it conflates the teller with the tale so one also gets a glimpse of the authors’ own experience in sports. It is an original, readable and informative volume and I would heartily recommend it to colleagues and a general audience alike. - Edgar Levenson, M.D., Fellow Emeritus, Training; Supervisory Analyst and Faculty, William Alanson White Institute

    "In a refreshing move outside the consulting room, Hirsch, Blumberg, and Watson invite us to contemplate the dynamic element embedded in the physical—and the observing of the physical. Essays written by eminent male and female analysts ask us to consider sports from an analytic point of entrée: What do sports do for us? Why do we play? Why do we watch and cheer? Engaging for the avid player, fan and those not involved with sports at all, this book addresses the intersection of psychodynamics and the passionate involvements we use to get away from our ordinary selves." -Joyce Slochower, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Supervisor, NYU Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis