Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Psychobiography of Bobby Fischer

      Fischer's ascent to the pinnacle of chess genius and brilliance was rapidly followed by his psychological decline into social isolation, paranoia, and likely mental illness. A Psychobiography of Bobby Fischer: Understanding the Genius, Mystery, and Psychological Decline of a World Chess Champion makes an effort to understand the inner workings of Fischer’s mind by examining the genetic, personal, family, cultural, and political factors that provide a window into the why of Fischer’s genius and bizarre behavior.  Counseling psychologist and author Dr. Joseph G. Ponterotto deconstructs almost every aspect of Fischer s personal and career life to form a psychological profile.  This book claims to be the first scholarly psychological assessment of the world s most famous chess champion.
      Among the topics addressed in the current volume are Bobby s early family environment and his natural intellectual gifts that predisposed him to genius in chess. Critical to understanding Bobby s personality development is his relationship with his mother Regina Fischer and his sister Joan Fischer, as well as his relationship to his likely biological father, Paul Felix Nemenyi. These topics are explored in-depth and the impact of these relationships on Bobby s psychological development is highlighted. Bobby s later-life internal mental state -- his mistrust, anger, and hatred of Jews is explored and the origins of this affective state are closely examined.
      Dr. Ponterotto also provides the first, carefully and cautiously sculpted psychological autopsy of Bobby Fischer relying on modern psychological assessment procedures. Of interest will be a full chapter comparing the genius and mental health challenges of Paul Morphy and Bobby Fischer. This book also explores the topic of the prevalence of mental illness among elite chess players, and provides a critical review of the research on the potential relationship between creativity and vulnerability to mental illness.
      Finally, Dr. Ponterotto outlines counseling and psychotherapy interventions that very likely could have helped Bobby throughout his life. The book includes 10 chapters and tables, figures, and family genograms, as well as appendices providing extensive detail on the life of Bobby Fischer and family. Finally, the book includes some original family photos never before published.

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