Joseph G. Ponterotto Ph.D.
Understanding the Genius, Mystery, and Psychological Decline of a World Chess Champion
Robert (Bobby) James Fischer was one of the world's most mysterious and exciting personalities of the middle 20th century. He single handedly ended a 35 year span of Russian domination of elite chess when he defeated Boris Spassky for the World Chess Championship in 1972 in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Fischer's dynamic victory ignited in Americans a passion for the game of chess and a deep pride in being American during the height of the Cold War. The world knows the story of Fischer's ascent to the pinnacle of chess genius and brilliance, and it knows of his psychological decline into social isolation, paranoia, and likely mental illness.
Now, for the first time, through "A Psychobiography of Bobby Fischer: Understanding the Genius, Mystery, and Psychological Decline of a World Chess Champion," we come to understand the inner workings of Fischer's mind - the genetic, personal, family, cultural, and political factors that collectively provide a penetrating window into the "why" of Bobby Fischer's genius and bizarre behavior.
Renowned counseling psychologist and author Dr. Joseph G. Ponterotto deconstructs almost every aspect of Fischer's personal and career life to sculpt an integrative psychological profile of this enigmatic world personality.
Though there have been many articles, books, and films on Bobby Fischer, this text represents the first scholarly psychological assessment of the worlds 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 to readers will be a full chapter comparing the genius and mental health challenges of the United States' two greatest chess champions who lived a century apart, 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 (a hallmark of chess genius) and vulnerability to mental illness.
Finally, Dr. Ponterotto outlines counseling and psychotherapy interventions that very likely could have helped Bobby throughout his life. Though there are numerous biographies on the life of Bobby Fischer, this text represents the first scholarly, systematically derived psychobiography of this great chess champion and enigmatic world personality.
The book includes 10 content chapters and select 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.
Published 2012, softback, 224 pages.View sample pages (pdf)