Friday, January 27, 2017

Mental Toughness Revisited

Mental Toughness is a term frequently applied to athletes. I previously had written about this term and postulated 11 psychological principles, that enhanced an individual’s ability to withstand pain and suffering while training. An article titled, in the December 6, 2016 edition of the New York Times, “How Much Suffering Can You Take?” spurred additional thought about this phenomena. Mental Toughness is one aspect of man’s behavior or motivation that causes him to inflict pain and discomfort upon himself. Freud, influenced by World War I, hypothesized a second drive called the death instinct to explain man’s aggressive nature toward man. Within this framework, the term sadism and masochism, explained man motivation for inflicting pain on self and toward others. Later, Dr. Henry Murray, within his Personology Theory identified a need that helped to explain man’s hurtful behavior. Murray called this n Abasement. Abasement he briefly defined as: to accept injury, blame, criticism, punishment. To admit inferiority, error, wrongdoing or defeat. To blame, belittle or mutilate the self. To seek and enjoy pain, punishment, illness and misfortune. We can now see that mental toughness includes both mental, and physical within this human need. The idea of inflicting pain, although not always conscious, toward oneself is universal and part of the human condition [not eating properly, excessive prescription and nonprescription drug use, excessive alcohol use, excessive smoking, lack of exercise, etc.]. I speculate that there are degrees of mental toughness. Further, male-female, young-old, and socioeconomic status may also play a part, as far as differences are concerned. A professional athlete; a college athlete; an Olympic athlete; a Navy seal are examples of individuals that have possessed and have exhibited mental toughness. Other primary and secondary motivations, needs and/or requirements operate as well. Some examples of these include economic benefits, affiliation, dominance, aggression, fame, glory etc. that are variables that pertain and associated with behavior. Man being complex is more than fulfilling just one variable at a time. However, let’s not eliminate all man’s needs, but hold the economic advantages constant. We can do that by focusing on extreme amateur sports that do not have a major economic value. The 100 mile Western States, a one day running event; the 100 mile Swanton Pacific Ride and Tie, one day event; the Barkley Marathon and the Quintuple Anvil Triathlon come to mind. To Be Continued

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