Liberty Just in Case

A Dialogue for the September 12th World

Archive for January 18th, 2008

The Death of a Legend

Posted by Mark on January 18, 2008

Bobby Fischer died today, at the age of 64.  Like millions of Americans, I discovered Chess in the early ’70’s thanks to his incredible performance in 1972.  Even in small town Oklahoma, I followed the dramatic events in far off Iceland, and learned the magic of the chessboard at the same time.

I discovered the profound tragedy of schizophrenia thanks to Bobby as well.  To my knowledge, he was never officially diagnosed with the disorder, but there is no doubt in my mind. His symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, and possibly paranoid personality disorder, are clear from his history.

I wonder how much was lost to the world due to Bobby’s illness, an illness that began well before 1972?  Schizophrenia strikes young people in their late teens to early 20’s.  It becomes a family tragedy, as it strikes down those who are just beginning their college careers, often in their freshman and sophomore years.  Because they are often away from home, and family members who know them best, for the first time, the symptoms are not recognized on the campus until they become severe.  Often, it is not until the call comes from the Psychiatrist or therapist on the locked psych unit that the parents become aware of the tragedy that has befallen their beloved son or daughter.

I’ve made this call many times over the years.  Being able to help these parents deal with the shock and loss of their children’s promise continues to be one of great rewards of being a therapist.

In a real way, we lost Bobby Fischer decades ago, to an illness that continues to affect millions.   His magic on the chessboard will live for ages. I hope he can inspire someone to find the cure for the illness that took so much from him, and from us all.


This is Bobby from 1971, the way I will remember him.

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