Tag Archives: March Madness

Rick Welts and Homosexuality

Homosexuality was classified as a mental disorder by the DSM until 1973. Well, really until 1986. In 1980 they changed “homosexuality” into “ego-dystonic homosexuality” which was: (1) a persistent lack of heterosexual arousal, which the patient experienced as interfering with initiation or maintenance of wanted heterosexual relationships, and (2) persistent distress from a sustained pattern of unwanted homosexual arousal. Which basically says, “If you are okay with being gay it’s not a mental disorder. But, if you don’t want to be gay then it’s a mental disorder.” Which is a nicer way of saying. “If you want to be who you are, it’s not a mental disorder. But, if you don’t want to be who you are, your homosexuality is mental disorder.” It wasn’t until 1986 that homosexuality was entirely removed from DSM.

Rick Welts, the CO and President of the Golden State Warriors, is a gay man. He came out last May. He is the only openly gay serving executive in U.S. professional sports history.

When Charles Barkley was asked his thoughts on the matter: “First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say: ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.” Chuck. Never afraid to put it like it is.

(Just for kicks. Once Barkley was pulled over for running a stop sign he told the cop he was in a hurry because he was going to see a girl who had “given him a ‘blow job’ one week earlier,” which he described as “the best one he had ever had in his life.” He ended up being charged with a DUI.)

Oh, back to the point. Homosexuality.

Asperger’s is viewed as a spectrum disorder. Meaning everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum. This is the same way Kinsey viewed homosexuality and heterosexuality. Not gay or straight. But, a continuum of sexuality. Find me a straight man who isn’t struck by Ryan Goslin and I will find you a liar.

We’ve seen the damage that saying there was “something wrong” with homosexuals has done to their cause and to the lives of gay people. Obviously, there were different reasons besides purely scientific, that homosexuality was classified as a “mental illness”. But, there is a good lesson to take away from it. It is now obvious to us that homosexuality is not a mental illness and there is nothing wrong with homosexuals. I’m assuming you are not voting for Rick Santorum or that you are Rick Santorum.

What other “mental illnesses” or “disorders” are in the DSM that we will one day view as normal behavior? And, what harm are we doing to those with a “disorder” or “mental illness” to attach that stigma of “something is wrong with them”? There are extroverts and introverts. There are type A and type B personalities. There are gay people and straight people? Why can’t some just be a Asperger personality? Or for that matter schizophrenic personality?

If we view someone as “mental ill” or having a “disorder”, it means there is something wrong with them and that they need to change for us. But, if some thing is a “normal” behavior and we reject it, that means there is something wrong with us and we need to change for them.

Here is the great New York Times story were Welts came out.

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Brandon Marshall and Borderline Personality Disorder

“I’ve accomplished more than I ever dreamed of. Not only did I become a Pro Bowl player, I became one of the highest-paid football receivers. I graduated from college and am pursuing a master’s degree. I am married to a beautiful, educated woman. I have a dream home, two nice cars, and three beautiful dogs. But I haven’t enjoyed one part of it. And it’s hard for me to understand why.”

Brandon Marshall is a wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins. He has received for more than 1,000 yards in his last six seasons. He’s only been in the league seven. He holds the record for most receptions in a single game, 21. He went to three Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro in 2009.

“People say football players have to be able to turn the switch on and off between thinking and reacting, but there has never been a switch for me. It’s always been impulsivity and just reaction. It made me who I am today. I appreciate it, my strengths, but they have also ruined me.”

Off field problems tarnished the early years of Marshall’s career. He was charged with violent domestic crimes and a DUI.

In 2011 he received a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD is probably one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses. Largely because the disorder causes acutely emotional instability. This leads to destructive interpersonal behavior and impulsivity, often resulting in reckless sexually behavior, violent tendencies, and extreme manipulative behavior. However, with no signs of psychosis (a disconnect from reality) it is very difficult to diagnose. Those with BPD don’t have control of their emotions and actions when suffering symptoms.

Internally people living with BPD are full of self-hatred, feelings of worthlessness. 8-10 % of those living with BPD die from suicide.

The treatment for BPD is very expensive and difficult. It takes a mix of medicine and long-term therapy. There is also an extremely high percentage of remission. Marshall reportedly spent $60,000 on his diagnosis and treatment.

“Today I am making myself vulnerable to help others who suffer from borderline personality disorder (BPD). I have seen my life with BPD and how it played out. My goal is to walk the halls of Congress to fight for the insurance coverage for this, and walk the halls of the National Institute of Mental Health to raise the awareness of this disorder. That is my mission moving forward. I love the game, but it’s not my priority anymore. Today my journey begins. I want to be the face of BPD.”

Here is a self assessment test for borderline personality disorder.

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Jerry West and Major Depressive Disorder

This month’s feature ‘March Madness’ will feature mental illnesses and the athletes who are battling with them.

Jerry West is the only player in NBA history to win the Finals MVP, when playing for the losing team. He is the NBA logo.

Jerry West wrote his autobiography last year, ‘West by West’, and it in he admitted for the first time his life long battle with depression.

From the review of the book in the LA Times:

He suffers from a clinical depression so acute that even his daily Prozac doesn’t always keep him from feeling suicidal. A woman who ultimately would marry him found West to be “the saddest man she had ever met.” Years later, she wrote a note to his boss, Lakers owner Jerry Buss, to warn him that her husband was “a very tormented individual” on the brink of self-destruction.

A massive misconception is that depression is being sad, or having a cloudy day, or waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Here is a depressed woman describing her average morning routine, “”I would wake up with an overwhelming sense of dread and anxiety. I would lay there for hours, sometimes in a fetal position, crying. I would pull a sheet over my head.” Ya, know, just a normal bad hair day.

Jerry West was the most respected player in the league. He is probably the most respected basketball player in history. After retiring he won Executive of the Year twice. If there was anyone ever that should have been “stronger than that” or able to “just get over it” or “just needed to kick himself in the rear” it was Jerry West.

Jerry West lead the Lakers to 9 NBA Finals Appearances, he made 12 all NBA teams, in 1996 the NBA named him the #1 player of all-time. For someone who “would go to bed feeling like I didn’t even want to live” that’s not too bad.

Here is a depression self-assessment test called the Patient Health Questionnaire-9.

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