Fischer, Michael Jackson, Hoffman and Williams (the latter two both Oscar-winning actors), were considered geniuses in their chosen craft, and yet, they were all most certainly depressed, in clinical terms. People tell me they find it confusing how someone so talented and successful could be so unhappy.
Here's my take on this phenomenon, revisited:
Bobby Fischer has died at the age of 64. America's only world chess champion and a true prodigy, Bobby brought chess into mainstream consciousness in America over three decades ago. He certainly inspired me in his famous match with Boris Spassky in the summer of 1972, right after I had graduated from high school. I watched every game on PBS, and then went on to start a chess club at Rider College in my freshman year. I once got to see Bobby work his magic, playing against 20 of Westchester County's best players simultaneously, winning all 20 games in about an hour. He even smiled wryly at one point when he recognized that one of the challengers was playing one of Fischer's own games against him!
As a budding young psychotherapist, I also knew that Bobby Fischer was probably a paranoid schizophrenic. That both saddened me and fascinated me. It saddened me because he became emotionaly too unstable to continue revolutionizing the game of chess. Instead he descended into madness and isolation over the years. It fascinated me because I wondered how one could be so innovative and brilliant (Fischer's IQ was purported to be 181), and yet also be insane. I pondered this question for many years, and often thought about Bobby Fischer when I did.
The conclusion I came to ultimately was that most people have at least a "window" open in their psyche to their highest self, no matter how pressing their other disturbances and conflicts might be. Each person comes into life with innate gifts to bear, some even monumentally so. From Mozart to Mickey Mantle, from Judy Garland to John Forbes Nash, we have plenty of examples of greatness co-existing with deep fatal flaws in the mind. In the lives of so many people I meet, in fact, I frequently see the same thing - areas of talent and light shining through the window of an otherwise "ordinary" life, constricted by the rigid belief systems and suppressed emotions we created in childhood and have not dismantled.
Is there a purpose for the existence of these windows? Yes. It is the soul's way of reminding us of who we truly are, of what we can and will become as we progress on our journey towards self-actualization. It is our inner inspiration to fulfillment. As Bobby Fischer inspired me and perhaps millions of others in the 1970's to explore the world of chess, our own flashes of creativity and brilliance can inspire us to do the selfwork necessary to explore our own inner world and advance our own evolution.
Thanks, Bobby, for the bright light that briefly shown through you.
And thank you all!