Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Are Laser Sailors Crazy?

I might be crazier than I had imagined.

Last week I was at the Laser Training Center in Cabarete in the Dominican Republic attending a 4-day Laser racing clinic followed by a 1-day regatta. There were about 18 sailors on the clinic, mainly from the USA but also from Europe and Japan, including a bunch of us from southern New England who already knew each other. We sailed every day in all sorts of winds and wave conditions. We listened to instruction on the finer points of Laser sailing from head coach Rulo. We watched videos of us Laser sailing and videos of good sailors Laser sailing. We discussed sailing over breakfast. We discussed sailing over dinner. Speaking purely for myself I also dreamed about sailing. I didn't wear socks or long pants all week.

The picture above is of me, surfing down a wave, crossing the finish line of the final race on Saturday. I do recall that I was whooping, "Woo hoo!" in celebration of completing a fantastic week of sailing in warm weather and warm water. In January! Woo hoo!

In the few hours of free time last week when I was not sailing or learning about sailing or talking about sailing or dreaming about sailing, I read a book. The book was not about sailing; it was about madness.

The book was The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson. Among other things the book explores the theory that many important CEOs and politicians are actually psychopaths.

The book also takes aim at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association which attempts to list every known mental disorder. The first edition of DSM was only 65 pages long, but the latest edition is 943 pages long and lists 374 different mental disorders. Of course the drug companies love this. The more disorders there are, the more opportunity there is to market drugs to "treat" all these disorders. But it is certainly questionable whether the DSM now labels as mental disorders many ordinary behaviors which are perhaps only slightly unusual or a little difficult for others to deal with.

In The Psychopath Test Ronson describes how he got hold of a copy of DSM and was quickly able to diagnose himself with 12 different mental disorders. There was Arithmetic Learning Disorder (sums are hard for him) and Parent-Child Relational Problem (tense homework situation with his mother brought on by sums being hard) and Caffeine Induced Disorder (feeling jittery after drinking coffee) and so on and so on. Ronson concluded that he was much crazier than he had previously imagined.

I haven't seen the DSM but I wouldn't be at all surprised if there is a mental disorder called Irrational Exuberant Vocalization Disorder (IEVD). This is characterized by spontaneous utterances of incoherent and meaningless whoops and squeals, sometimes accompanied by tics such as pumping one fist in the air. If there was a video, and not a still shot, of me crossing the finish line in that race on Saturday you would clearly see and hear that I am suffering from IEVD. I might be crazy after all.

On the plane ride back from the Dominican Republic on Sunday afternoon I began to realize that IEVD might be much more common than I had imagined. From time to time the quiet atmosphere of the darkened airplane cabin would be punctuated with infantile squeals of glee emanating from otherwise apparently normal American male adults. It seemed like half the men on the plane had IEVD. I saw a man across the aisle in front of me pumping both fists in the air and heard him emit a few screams of "woo hoo" after which he was blathering "yes yes yes" and drooling a little.

What on earth was going on? I got up to walk to the bathroom at the back of the plane and on my return I noticed that most of the seat-back TV screens were tuned to some channel which was showing that weird American game where men in tight pants bend over with their bums in their air and then run into each other and fall over when the pretty white boy throws a pointy object away. It seemed that all the IEVD sufferers were watching this channel. How odd!

Anyway, I need to get hold of a copy of DSM to see if I am really crazy. Perhaps all Laser sailors are crazy?


Baydog said...

How weird is that? I too had IEVD symptoms on Sunday, followed up by SHOD (severely hung over disorder)on Monday. Too much Cabernet....or Barolo.

O Docker said...

Well, someone must think you're crazy.

That silly little video I did about you back in September makes a case for your lack of reason, and it keeps getting more and more views.

I checked a few months ago and it was up to 3000 hits. Now, it's at 5000!

Either more and more people think you're crazy or there is one very crazy guy who keeps watching it over and over.

Joe said...

Wow, I also was watching a TV screen tuned to some strange channel named after a species of omnivorous mammals belonging to the Canidae family which was showing a weird American game where men in tight pants were bent over with their bums in the air and then they ran into each other and fell over when the pretty white boy threw a pointy object away. Does this mean that I suffer from IEVD too?

Dr. Nuts said...

Dear Mr. Tillerman,

I can assure you that the symptoms you describe are at worst a sign of a very superficial case of IEVD.

However you seem to be suffering, again and in an intense episode, from DLSD, Determined Laser Sailing Disorder. Congratulations.

Dr. Nuts, from cold northern Europe

Anonymous said...

Are extreme sailors just crazy in general? hahah

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