Archive for the ‘News & Events’ Category

8 Mental Skills for American Strength & Unity on Memorial Day

Special Feature from JohnFMurray.com – May 27, 2018 – Palm Beach, Florida – I am neither Republican nor Democrat and register each year as an Independent. In this spirit, I try to evaluate the issues and candidates on my own and try to avoid the shallow expediency of a party affiliation or too much emotion to cloud my choices. I just never believed that relinquishing my thoughts and beliefs to the simplicity of an aisle or partisan stance would produce quality thinking or decision making. Many could say that in not joining a party I am not furthering a cause, but I believe that by remaining neutral I gain a clearer perspective. I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats and will continue doing so based on what I believe is needed at the time.

As a psychologist specialized in the area of “high performance” often called sports psychology, I have been fortunate over the years to contribute my views to several thousand broadcast and print forums as liberal as The Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC, and NPR, as conservative as Fox News, the Washington Times and the Christian Science Monitor, and some more middle of the road platforms such as the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and USA Today. I’m not sure where “The Hill” fits in, but I’ve advised them too with ways to cope with the stress of the political season.  No matter what forum I was privileged to express on, I always tried to steer clear of politicizing issues unless you call a strong message that more mental training is needed in society is political. Some would say that is a very liberal message (after all Hillary fought long and hard for more psychology) while others would say that the power and strength that comes from better mental skills leading to more success sounds more like it is coming out of the mouth of our president. I don’t care. As a scientist and professional I just want people to know about the power of mental skills.

But I digress, and my rare message today is political! Our country is very divided. You cannot post a political message on Facebook or any other popular social media forum today without getting eviscerated by half the crowd and crowned champion by the other half. This bipolar nature of the current American public is not healthy. We know how unhealthy bipolar disorder is within one human being, so why would it be any different in society? When clear and rational thinking and logic is replaced by emotional grandstanding the result is going to be mush. We are so polarized by our stance that we by definition forfeit our otherwise good thinking and reasoning skills to a more mob-like mentality. We try so hard to crush the infidel that wise thoughts and actions are impossible.

We enjoy freedoms in large part due to the sacrifices made on the battlefields. This idea of individual freedom was never a given. It was somewhat novel in history and it was and is still earned with blood. To respect those who have fallen before us to protect our freedoms so that they do not disappear, we owe them and we owe ourselves clear and rational thinking.

Having studied thinking and high performance for many years, and applied this to teams in business and sports, and individuals in many challenging situations, I would like to give America a free sports psychology session in this article. Whatever side of the aisle you are on, or if you are independent like me, you really to need to be using your mental skills when you think about politics and act for what you believe is best politically. It is my view that only clear thinking and logic will lead to better decisions, better voting, and ultimately what is better for our country. So, in this way, I would like to think that I am giving Americans a political advantage.

Here goes:

  • Be Passionate in Fully Expressing Your View: Don’t deride those on the other side of the political aisle, but by all means express your own views with passion and purpose. Steer clear of insults, foul language and personal attacks on those who don’t share your stance, and just let your passion on the issue shine through. It’s like in sales. You are not going to sell much by simply putting down the other brand. You need to be excited about your own brand but with respect.
  • Work Hard to Understand the Issue: Whatever viewpoint you are espousing, do your homework so that you can defend your stance logically and clearly and with facts rather than just emotion.
  • Be Flexible to Change if Needed: Be willing to change your view if after careful analysis you find that the facts support your opposition’s stance.  This is hard to do and it is very rare, but being humble and flexible in this way will pay off in a big way with others. You may also acquire a more solid stance in the process.
  • Stay 100% Focused on the Issue at Hand: So many people get distracted by emotion or insults, and then react in kind. Before long you have a food fight that goes in 5 different directions. Nothing gets accomplished. Keep your focus on whatever the issue is and only change topics when it is appropriate and both parties are willing.
  • Be Confident but Not Over-Confident: Each person has the right to believe fully in what they are saying, but should not let that confidence intrude into blind belief when new facts or a different set of circumstances indicate that their confidence might be misguided. In the game of chess, and life, clear thoughts and logical reasoning always destroy emotional rants. Stay confident but be willing to keep thinking and not foreclose on your belief just because at one point you believed that in the past.
  • Manage Your Emotions: This one is huge. So many people polarize to one side or the other and the game is over. They then make stronger and stronger arguments to bolster their initial view and it often leads to extremely high and uncontrollable emotions such as anger, rage, fury and more. Temper tantrums are a sign of weakness. If you are arguing with someone and they begin blowing their top or using vulgarity, you have probably won the argument. Stay even headed.
  • Visualize all the Way to the Polls: In deciding which candidate to vote for, or how to frame your argument, spend some time in advance playing it all out in your mind. This is a bread and butter technique that I use with all athletes in my sports psychology work, and you should use it as well in your formulation of stances, and in your overall thinking about politics.
  • Know the End Game: In trying to decide who to vote for or in formulating you view on a particular issue, keep thinking about how this will all play out in the end. Rather than just aiming for really short-term goals and objectives, ask yourself how this will impact America 2, 5, 10 and 50 years down the road.

I hope you have enjoyed this mental skills primer on Memorial Day. I will leave you with one more thought. If you are liberal, right now think of one valid viewpoint that is frequently espoused by conservatives. If you are conservative, think of one valid stance mostly taken by liberals. If you cannot do this, then you are by definition on an emotional plane. There is no way in the world that any one side of the aisle has all the correct truths on all the issues. It is just impossible. Try to be more flexible, and re-read the 8 Mental Skills for American Strength & Unity.

Happy Memorial Day!

Dr. John F. Murray’s Mental Performance Index Correctly Picked the Eagles, Now 80% Successful in Super Bowls

Mental toughness, as measured on sports psychologists’ patented Mental Performance Index, was decisive once again

Palm Beach, Florida – April 5, 2018

Dr. John F. Murray at http://www.JohnFMurray.com a licensed clinical and sport performance psychologist (aka the “Football Shrink,” the “Freud of Football” by the Washington Post and the author of “The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History”) correctly forecast that the Philadelphia Eagles, led by an unproven quarterback and coach would handle pressure better than Tom Brady and the New England Patriots and beat the official spread in Super Bowl 52. As predicted, the Eagles executed better under pressure and defeated New England 41-33.  

The MPI has now defeated the official spread in 8 of 10 attempts (80% success) made publicly before Super Bowl games. The system has also held up in research looking at over 7000 past NFL games. The book Murray wrote on the MPI in 2011 and revised in 2013 showed overwhelming evidence that mental performance is the most important factor in Super Bowl success. “More than ever, it is clear that mental factors need to be considered at the top of the list in analyzing football games and training players,” stated Murray. “Going without mental coaching is no longer an option for anyone serious about success.”

For an entire week leading up to the big game, Murray tweeted and posted on Facebook about how the Eagles and Patriots were very close and that the line favoring the Patriots decisively was way off and that the Eagles would cover the spread even if New England were to win the game. Murray had predicted Super Bowl games 8 years in a row in previous years in building a case for his book, and went 6-2 against the official spread, and then got the pick correct last year in picking the Patriots to cover.  “The MPI data is crucial to understanding total team performance, including mental performance, so I believe that I have an advantage since most still do not measure this critical mental factor,” stated Murray.  

The inventor of the Mental Performance Index(TM) (MPI(TM)), Dr. John F. Murray, works with NFL players and uses the index to quantify the degree to which a team performs to perfection. See http://www.JohnFMurray.com. He also used it for 4 years in a row in quantifying the performance of Miami Hurricane football games in a weekly column published in Cane Sport Magazine. The 56-year-old Ph.D. licensed sport/performance psychologist in Palm Beach assigns points on each play throughout selected regular season games and the playoffs for “focused execution,” “pressure management,” and “reduction of mental errors,” and game totals range from .000 to 1.000 (perfection). “Scoring at .600 is excellent,” said Murray. Many coaches have said that “on every play somebody screws up” and good football coaches encourage their teams to place their focus on one play at a time.

The MPI measures how well a team does overall including on mental performance. Its power comes from the number of plays in a game (approximately 150) and the inclusion of mental factors in the scoring. While the MPI scores achieved in game ratings almost always predicts to game outcome, the numbers also indicate which teams are performing better, in precisely which specific areas, and regardless of which team won in the past. This gives coaches great insight before their upcoming games as they are able to more clearly see not only how their own team is performing, but to anticipate the fine differences, strengths and weaknesses of their opponents in a scoring system that standardizes performance like a baseball batting average.  In the past few years, Murray has expanded this football analysis to the area of prediction with extensive statistical historical analysis.

The MPI was invented in 2002 and first accurately forecasted the blowout upset Super Bowl win by Tampa Bay over Oakland (Arizona Republic, Bloomberg Radio). Murray went on national radio and television and conducted hundreds of newspaper and magazine interviews before each Super Bowl for 8 consecutive years. The MPI has been featured by ESPN The Magazine and Murray’s appearances in media are too numerous to mention. Murray provides lectures, mental coaching, and sport psychology services to athletes and teams in many sports. Prior to “The Mental Performance Index” Murray authored “Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game,” endorsed by Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport.

Dr. Murray is available for interviews and his website is at http://www.JohnFMurray.com.

The Miami Dolphins as “Rosebud” in the Movie Citizen Cane

The Miami Dolphins as “Rosebud” in the Movie Citizen Cane – by John F Murray, PhD – 
Palm Beach, Florida – December 18, 2017 – I love my career as a clinical and sports psychologist. I get to do what is natural for me in watching and loving sports with the added benefit of being a part of the game in getting players and teams ready for competition with specific mental training and also psychological counseling.  It was the perfect career for me with a background of playing most sports growing up, and coaching tennis worldwide in my 20s after getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology. When I saw the light, I went back to graduate school at age 30 to become a sports psychologist and the rest is history.

Today I coach people and teams to develop their mental skills for success, but there was an additional extra spice of excitement that had nothing to do with me and everything to do with pure luck. At the age of 9, right when I first became aware of this spectator sport called NFL football, my father took me to my first game when the Dolphins played the Saints at the Orange Bowl. It was the week after Tom Dempsey kicked the longest field goal in history – a 63-yard blast with only half a foot. I was hooked after that game. The Dolphins had a new young genius coach named Don Shula and every year from 1970 to 1974 the team just got better.

It was a dream for a young kid to watch this team improve every year from age 9 to 14, impressionable years that instilled in this young fan the idea that there was a right way to coach and play sports that was the best in the world. It was an idealism backed by reality. Shula’s insight and this team’s hard work would lead to three consecutive Super Bowls, two titles, and a perfect 17-0 season. It wasn’t until that infamous “Sea of Hands” game against the Raiders in late 1974 when Jack Clancy caught the wounded duck thrown by Kenny Stabler in between two Miami defenders that all my hopes and young dreams were dashed in one cruel instant. The impossible happened. My beloved team that had only gotten better and better finally lost.  The last Super Bowl title in 1974 would be their last true glory and that was now 43 years ago.

Can you imagine? In 43 years the Dolphins have never done it again. At age 14, I thought the dream would simply never end and that by today the team would have amassed 20 Super Bowl titles. New England back then was a third-rate group of lousy scrubs. Those were the days! The impact of those early years as a kid growing up in South Florida, however, were profoundly significant. That team was my childhood “rosebud.”  Remember that rosebud was the name of the sled in the academy-winning movie Citizen Cane that represented all that was good and innocent about life before the reality of life sets in for a publishing tycoon.   

My early love of sports was propelled by this amazing experience following the Dolphins’ every move in the early 1970s. In some ways, I am always trying to re-discover those years of success with every client I work with today, even if the success of that team had nothing to do with me except to give me hope. Back then sports psychology did not even exist, but today it is just another vital part of comprehensive training for the smart athlete and team, and hope is a critical component. While I had zero to do with that early fun, the lessons learned over 5 years of rising dominance, watching every play and dissecting every article I could find on Shula or the team, showed me at a young age what a team can and should be, what a coach can and should be, and how winning should look.

After going to college, traveling the world many times with a tennis racket, completing graduate school, and acquiring the tools to take my coaching to a whole different mental dimension, I finally in 1999 got the chance to begin my career and actually help athletes and teams to win. I’ve been at it almost 20 years now and love every minute of this exciting career.

What is really ironic is that early in my career in the early 2000s, I actually got the chance to be a paid consultant to the Miami Dolphins, helping several players with the support of the head coach and other staff. I was brought in to work with individual players including the starting quarterback, and the success was real and tangible. The truth is that mental coaching works and is very much needed, and part of the reason it works so well is that there are so few qualified sports psychologists today. Athletes do not receive this training properly. While I was able to help these Dolphins players early in my practice, and have helped many more since then, my attempts to build an actual sports psychology program for the team from day one of training camp has not seen the light of day. For whatever reason – perhaps stigmas about psychology or perhaps just not finding the right coach – it has not happened. I am confident that in the future all teams will have this service and will do it comprehensively year-round.

But let’s keep our focus on the Miami Dolphins after their 1970s glory days.  While you might be thinking of the Dan Marion era of the 1980s and 90s and the two Super Bowl appearances that were fun, they did not win it all, so in my mind the 1970s were much better. There have been 43 Dolphins teams that have not won the Super Bowl since that magic last win in January of 1974.  While many will argue that Miami has not had the talent of those early teams, I watched it very closely and will assert very confidently that this is not at all the case.

Back in the early 70s, the Dolphins were a ragtag bunch brought together by Shula as no-names literally, and nobody really expected them to win. I vividly remember a column written by LA Times reporter Jim Murray (no relation) with the heading “Who are the Dolphins?” prior to a Miami vs. LA Rams game. To sum it up, Miami did not have extraordinary talent in those days, but they had the best coaching in the world, they made few mistakes, and they worked very hard for it. Shula might not have had a sports psychologist, but I have talked with several players who played for him and it seems that he was doing many of the same things good sports psychologists do. It is not surprising that he is still the winningest coach of all time!

In today’s age of specialized training, media, huge salaries, agents, and frequent coach turnover, there are more distractions than ever, so good coaching takes on even more importance.  The teams that win are the teams who manage distractions best. The Patriots epitomize this approach and I am confident that they are taking the mental game very seriously. After Tom Brady won the Super Bowl last year, he attributed very much of his success in post-game discussions to sports psychology! What more evidence do you need?

Whether my services will soon be used by the Dolphins in the future or not, I cannot control this or worry about it. I would love to help the team, but the people in charge need to understand the value, and to make consultant hiring decisions more based on meritocratic thinking than hiring their friends from high school or thinking that big named celebrity speakers are the same as sports psychology. Sports psychology is a profession and a science and the same scrutiny used in finding top players in the draft should be used in finding the best professionals out there to help in any other area including the mental department. I cannot speak for internal politics of poor decision making by coaches or administrators, but I clearly see the product on the field in terms of performance.

When a team has nearly the most penalties in the league in 2017 and constantly shoots itself in the foot with careless turnovers, personal fouls, and poor focus, I can confidently assert that they are either not getting the right thing in terms of sports psychology, or that they are not doing it long enough or on a consistent basis. What I witnessed this year in terms of shoddiness and poor consistency was hard to watch at times. I do believe that Adam Gase is a brilliant young mind, and a superior tactician. He has a proven track record in particular with quarterbacks, and maybe he got the best he could get out of Jay Cutler this season, but no matter how good Adam Gase is, he is not a sports psychologist.  He is a coach and teams need great coaches like him.  But Mr. Gase did not get two masters degrees and a PhD after 7 years of serious study in sports psychology, and he never wanted to. He is an elite head coach, but without a first-class team sports psychology program in place, his team will never reach their potential.

Let me give you a vision. A great sports psychology program would be year-round. It would be overseen and directed by a professional with a license to practice psychology as well as extensive academic training and experience in all aspects of sports psychology. It would involve regular office hours to work with players individually. It would also involve comprehensive mental coaching evaluations on every player long before the season so that the sports psychologist as well as the coaches would know how to treat each player best to get the most out of them.  The sports psychologist would be an accepted and integral staff member, like the head of any department in a company, and would sit in on meetings and provide input as needed. Each player would have a specific and clear profile of mental needs and there would be a concerted effort by each and every coach to enhance each player’s mental skills every week in the areas identified as needing most help.  

I am not trolling for a job the way I might have in 1997 as a graduate student. I have a great practice in Palm Beach and work with a variety of athletes in all sports out of the office, by phone or at client locations. But I do know that even in the year 2017, the majority of the NFL teams, and I might dare add the Miami Dolphins, are not taking sports psychology nearly as seriously as they should. Talent is vastly over-rated. In addition to talent, great trained technique, strength programs, and solid nutrition, every player also needs to be on the top of the world in their mental training.

From the looks of this 2017 Miami Dolphins team, there is no way this is happening. The mistakes have been rampant, horrible, and costly.  The lost opportunities have been numerous and devastating.  The dreams of thousands of South Florida fans have just been dashed again after the loss to Buffalo. The phrase “no playoffs” has a very nasty ring to it but its back again.  We cannot simply blame it on the loss of Ryan Tannehill. Winning organizations find a way to prevail. This 6-8 team has grossly underperformed. The win over the Patriots was exciting, but it was a shallow and insignificant night of success that means nothing in the long-run. It might help Jay Cutler in the broadcast booth to say he beat Tom Brady one night, but what does that do for South Florida or the team?

I am now 56-years old, but since I love my profession so much I still feel like I am in my 30s. I still have that sparkle in my eye and glimmer of innocent hope that maybe someday this Dolphins team will return to the glory days that became a permanent place in my psyche from 1970 to 1974.  Of course, that was the 12-year old Dr. John F Murray, but it that same childlike hope and insane optimism that all athletes in all sports need and that I need to be able to instill in my clients. What used to be the excitement of a young fan is now a very serious confidence based on my understanding of the mental game and my realization that the vast majority of athletes and teams are still not coming close to their potential mentally.

Most NFL teams and players are starving mentally. I know it. And it goes beyond football to all others sports too. Like Martin Luther King, I also have a dream. I have a dream that some day all teams and athletes will realize what they have been missing and will be focused on training their mental games just as intensively as they train physically. The teams that figure it out first will have an advantage that might be hard to quantify, but trust me, I have seen it hundreds and hundreds of times in my private practice. When something that is significant is missing, and then it is added properly, performance and success soars.

The Miami Dolphins, like that iconic sled rosebud in the movie Citizen Cane, will probably always be that safe, exciting and innocent place that knows no limitations in my mind. But if the real Miami Dolphins never wake up from their long deep slumber, I am just as happy to keep the impact of those early magical years as inspiration to help other future NFL, NHL, NBA, or MLB teams, and the clients that I work with one on one, to win championships with sports psychology done right.

Hope you have enjoyed this article from the world of sports psychology.

Autopsy of Evil: Making Sense of Vegas Shooting

 

Special Psychological Feature to JohnFMurray.com – October 6, 2017 – Palm Beach, Florida – I am neither a criminologist nor an FBI profiler with expertise on rare and horrific crimes. However, I am a clinical and sports psychologist who, at age 55, has many years of experience delving into the deepest thoughts and feelings of thousands of clients in evaluations, psychotherapy and case studies. While I might not be the optimal professional opinion on what possibly went wrong in the head of this individual, I probably have a more informed perspective than most. I have studied what makes people tick, and what could possibly lead them to tick like a time bomb in such a maladaptive way. I admittedly step slightly out of my area of expertise in this article, but proceed nevertheless because I believe I have something to contribute to the analysis.

Let’s get one thing straight. There is no excuse for what Stephen Paddock did in Las Vegas this week. It was an act of pure evil. If he had not committed the ultimate act of cowardice through suicide, I would fully expect him to face the harshest punishment society can offer. The only exception, in my mind, would be if he were totally unresponsible for his actions and unaware of what he was doing due to extreme psychosis. This does not seem to be the case. He planned his dastardly actions for months as a meticulous and capable thinker. He built a fortune with his mind. He knew darn well what he was doing and he wanted to maim as many people as possible.  With the lack of a better phrase, I will term this “pure evil.”

One thing that repeatedly emerges in the scientific analysis of evil, and this is consistent with my perceptions, is a strong lack of empathy. These psychopaths usually have an almost complete inability to see the world from another’s perspective and are unable to feel or appreciate another person’s pain. It is almost as if they are mentally disabled in an area of the brain that allows them to see the world in another person’s shoes. I believe that to be safe as a society, we will eventually need to screen for this extreme lack of empathy and take proactive steps to prevent these selfish psychopaths from hurting others.  I envision a day in the distant future where people going for their driver’s license exams or trying to achieve employment or college admission will have to pass a complex but reliable empathy test too. Fail this test and you get watched more closely. Even though the last thing I want is for government to intrude more into our lives, this is a serious potential risk factor that needs to be more closely monitored and more closely controlled. We are nowhere near this level of sophistication and scrutiny in screening for this in society, but we need to be because a person with an intent to harm and no empathy is far more dangerous than a gun. I will steer clear of the whole gun control debate, however, and just stick to the analysis of evil in this paper.

Evil is typically a more mundane “I don’t give a s*** about anyone else” rather than a more blatant and overt personality development in which the individual assumes the role of an identified killing machine or societal predator. That is also why I believe people often miss the clues. How many times have we heard, “oh, he was such a nice and quiet guy” in trying to make sense of the most recent mass murder?

Lack of empathy is the linchpin to understanding this! In fact, if a person realized what he or she was really doing and how much it would actually hurt others, the evil act would probably never be committed. In my view, it’s the absence of emotion and the banality of evil that is the crucial element that poses the biggest risk to society. Boring and methodical intellectuals who are unhappy and totally unconcerned with others are more dangerous to society than the easily identified and obnoxious bullies.

The Germans during WW2 coldly gassed millions of innocent people in concentration camps not because German people have some inherent blood lust or collective brain damage. It was much more the result of the German political leaders intellectualizing their problems and using reductionist and inaccurate scapegoating of targeted populations. The horrible end, in their twisted analysis, justified the means. It was also a blind following of these leaders due to extreme fear combined with a strong emphasis on obedience. This all added up to acts and ways of thinking based more on simplistic and false intellectualization instead of more complex and accurate reasoning. Rather than digging into the true causes and consequences of their actions, they fixated on an ideology of racism and genocide that was idiotic and lacked human empathy at its core.

WW2 Germany was not the only example of this. Far from it. Armies throughout history, including the USA army, dehumanize the enemy so that they can kill more effectively.  You’ve heard of Japs and Krauts? However, war presents a much different and hopefully more justifiable challenge. Even if the process of simplistic thinking is inherently insensitive and lacking in empathy, the need to rid the world of Nazis in WW2 was obviously a noble quest. The last thing allied soldiers needed to be doing at the Battle of the Bulge was processing the emotions of their enemies before firing their weapons. War is extreme hell and most life situations do not call for such extremes.

Stephen Paddock appears to have been caught up in his own twisted way of thinking and it did not allow room for others. While I have no idea what his motive was to inflict such pain on random people at a concert, you can be sure that empathy had no place in his mind. He must have reasoned that this was necessary. Like Charles Manson or Ted Kazinski, he probably convinced himself that he was answering to some higher calling and needed to exact revenge on the country music fans below him. There was probably some strange duty, agenda or justification going on in his head. He was too smart to have not contemplated this many times over and over yet this in no way indicates that his thinking was rational. Far from it. A twisted higher mission is still twisted. It is analogous to the Nazi final solution. It is sick and it is evil and it lacks empathy.

Here is my formula for this evil: (1) Lack of empathy + (2) twisted logic + (3) dehumanization of the victim = potential mass murder. In my view, that is the code for danger in a nutshell.

While the killer is solely responsible for his evil act, I also believe that the media in our society has a duty to steer much less clear of politics and return to ethical journalism in our day yet that will probably never happen. Fox says one thing while CNN says the opposite. It becomes polarized. All the while killing gets more advertising time. There are many benefits of capitalism, but many risks too. Where money is king, truth and corruption often reign and with more money you get more of that still.  Capitalism has many benefits so don’t think I support communism at all. But there are flaws in any system and we just need to be aware and promote more fair journalism that is less polarized if that is ever possible. While I do not blame the media directly for what happens with these mass killings, we are in some ways paying the price for capitalism gone mad. It is an escalation of news coverage of the horrible which leads to more eyes on the show, greater money from endorsements and advertisers, and that social learning principle of imitation clicks in. The Stephen Paddocks of the world see it and get ideas. I don’t remember it this bad growing up in the 60s and 70s when these media empires were not as large.

Stephen Paddock’s father was apparently a nightmare who was criminal, gun toting, violent, brilliant and abusive. His brother also apparently beat him up, according to early reports. As a result, Paddock probably built a life based on revenge and solitary genius. In other words, he despised most people and instead just focused on himself. He learned that empathy was meaningless. A guy that doesn’t care about most people is dangerous. He despised people and learned to succeed financially without them. His enormous pent up rage was finally released on what he perceived to be the biggest problem in the world – people. In killing, he might have felt like he was in some way gaining back some of what he lost in life for all the pain he went through in life.  Misery loves company. Those whom he considered to be abusive to him (perhaps his father) in some strange way inspired this need for revenge. It’s the ultimate payback.

You might ask why he was so insensitive in killing innocents whom he did not even know. It was his nature. He built his fortune on being a cold, insensitive, calculating numbers genius, not by caring for others. Killing innocents did not bother him because his playful innocent self as a child was probably killed off by his father and/or brother or someone else. He probably also had no belief structure or religion that might have helped him see the wrong of what he was doing. By doing this evil act he gained a level of twisted psychological equilibrium. The thinking might go like this, “hey … I was innocent and they screwed me over … so why should I care?”

This entire discussion fits into my theory that people who are most psychologically damaged are most dangerous to society. In the future we need to sniff out the unhappy people and monitor them closely for homicidal tendencies. What we don’t know about people can indeed hurt us.  It also fits in nicely with the New York cognitive-behavioral schools of psychology. Essentially, these theories posit that psychological illness is related to distorted thinking. In other words, irrational cognition, or self-talk, is the root of distress. Often in my work, the trick to helping someone is to adopt a cognitive behavioral perspective and work at changing a person’s fixed beliefs or underlying irrational or maladaptive thoughts. I guarantee you that Stephen Paddock had a plethora of irrational and dangerous beliefs in his head. And since he did not live in a social world (his world was abstract mathematics and beating the odds) he never encountered or allowed healthy challenges to his underlying assumptions. His arrogance as a self-made millionaire only bolstered that thinking further. Paddock didn’t need people for his success and even saw people as the cause of his deep hell. There might have also been a trigger event in months leading up to the killings, like a huge financial or love loss, but that is still uncertain. He actually needed solid psychotherapy more than ever in his life, but felt he was above it all and would not turn to people or therapy.

In sum, we have learned many times that the insecure can be very dangerous to society. It is close to a solid maxim in my mind. The key to more health and happiness and less mass killings is to sniff out this insecurity, help people feel more secure, challenge faulty and dangerous assumptions in thinking, and listen well. Many need to access psychotherapy or talk to anyone rather than acting out on crazy inner impulses that can be so dangerous. I’ve always liked to hang out with successful and happy people because they tend to be most secure and the least invested in creating havoc. They enjoy life and value life.

We certainly need to do something different than we are doing. Thanks for listening.  I hope you have enjoyed this expose from the world of psychology.

3 Time National Champion Football Player from Alabama Endorses Sports Psychology

Note from Dr. John F. Murray:

I am thrilled to have recently received the following sports psychology endorsement from a fine individual and key member of the University of Alabama offensive line that won 3 national championships:

“Working with Dr. Murray was not only beneficial in my athletic endeavors but my personal life as well. Through his guidance I was able to overachieve and accomplish my childhood dream of playing football at the University of Alabama. I still use some of the methods he taught me in my everyday life. I am forever grateful to Dr. Murray and his ability to take a blue collar kid and develop him into a national champion!!!

RTR – KELLEN WILLIAMS (2009-2013), Pat Trammel Award Winner and 3 Time BCS National Champion, Alabama

Thanks so much Kellen!

 

I love wearing my YES watch

Special to JohnFMurray.com – February 22, 2017 – The YES watch is so unique that if you have not yet worn one, you simply have to try it out. At the very least go to their website at http://www.yeswatch.com and you will see what I am raving about.

If you travel, you will fall in love with and find the YES brand of watches very useful. It’s rare to have the ability to program any city from a selection of hundreds into this watch and also to see the moon phases change regularly in this city. But one of the coolest things about this watch is the new concept and completely unique way that this brand of watches dipicts a day. It shows the daylight hours remaining graphically in a way that is more logical than any other watch I have worn.

On top of all that, and the great watches already produced, is that the new Equilibrium which is going to be their best watch ever and it is due for release in just over a few months. This link will take you to the complete description of this most complex and exciting watch.

Enjoy what I enjoy … and check out YES today!

 

Dr. John F Murray Launches New Show Jumping Column

Palm Beach, FL – February 16, 2017 – JohnFMurray.com – Clinical and sports performance psychologist John F Murray has launched a brand new column on sports psychology on the world’s premier website for show jumpers at www.WorldOfShowJumping.com. The column is called “Mental Equipment,” similar to some of his past columns and radio shows, and is designed to help show jumpers all over the world to improve mental skills such as focus, confidence, and resilience as they prepare for and enter the show ring.

“Over the years, I’ve noticed a modest but steady flow of show jumpers in my private practice, so it’s about time that we have a regular feature column on the topic,” stated Murray. “It will be fun.” You can find the first column at the following link:  Mental Equipment Column at www.WorldOfShowJumping.com.

 

 

Hot Take: Redskins should use a sports psychologist

USA TODAY – Washington Redskins Wire – By Lake Lewis, Jr. – January 26, 2017 – Over the years, sports psychologists have helped some of the top teams and high profile athletes gain a mental edge over their opponents. And while NFL athletes are some of the most physically gifted individuals, fragile egos can quickly lose confidence if their play and performance are not up to par.

The Washington Redskins, for whatever reason, have a history of epic meltdowns during prime-time games. In fact, some of their worst games were matchups with big consequences.

This past season, the Burgundy and Gold had could have clinched a playoff spot with a win in either of their final two home games, but their performances were lackluster.

Could a sports psychologist have helped determine a different outcome?

Some of the more storied franchises in sports have used sports psychologists, and these teams are known to be mentally tough.

Teams that have won championships, such as the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, have used forms of sports psychology to help them perform better. Other elite pro teams, such as the New York Yankees (MLB) and the San Antonio Spurs (NBA), have employed it as well.

Dr. John F. Murray, a well-known author, speaker, clinical psychologist and sports psychologist has worked with several high-profile athletes and teams over the years.

Murray states that the “athletes known as overachievers constantly outperform those with more raw speed or strength because they make better decisions. They stay focused rather than getting rattled in the heat of battle. They remain confident and resilient no matter what the situation is, and we all recognize that their performance has nothing to do with their limbs and muscles and everything to do with their brain.”

Several current and former players I spoke with revealed they had sports psychologists in college but not with the Redskins. Players can seek out help independently, which many in the league do, if their team doesn’t offer the service.

Washington could use help in the mental approach to the game. Too many times they have underachieved when the lights were the brightest or the stage was unforgiving.

The team could start performing at a higher level winning if they maximized the mental approach to the game, since the talent has improved over the past several seasons.

The Patriots are back in the Super Bowl with a roster that is not the most talented. They were also hit hard by injuries and still didn’t miss a beat. Their mental approach to the game from coach Bill Belichick to quarterback Tom Brady is better than it ever has been. (Tom Brady, it should also be noted, recently stated after the 2017 championship win over the Steelers that the mental toughness was the most important factor in team success)

This is the difference between teams with talent and teams with a mental capacity that can’t be broken.

Hope you have enjoyed this feature from the world of sports psychology.

Sports psychologist on Odell Beckham: Time to learn ’emotional control’

Metro New York – January 25, 2017 – By Kristian Dyer – After a season with plenty of antics and ravings from Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants fans might need some therapy if they are going to endure another emotional year with their star wide receiver. The tantrums that have become associated with Beckham are concerning, but the nation’s most prominent sports psychologist advises that it simply means the diva wide receiver needs to develop not just his physical side but his mental one as well.

From picking a fight with the kicking net one week, to last year’s fight on the field with Josh Norman, there is no denying that Beckham is a lightning rod for criticism. While his production on the field remains strong – he did lead the Giants in receptions and receiving yards this year – his actions continue to be a distraction and they show a penchant for self-destruction. It seemed at times this past season that he simply checked out of games and/or was baited into emotional responses – as a certain piece of drywall at Lambeau Field can attest to.

While a diagnosis is impossible from a distance, Dr. John F. Murray thinks that Beckham might benefit not just from running routes and lifting weights this offseason, but also from some mental training.

“A diagnosis is never appropriate from afar and if I were working with him clinically I would certainly keep it confidential,” Dr. Murray told Metro. “There are many popular and usually erroneous notions about erratic behavior in sports in which that behavior is connected to bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder or some other mental instability. While those things are possible, it is more likely that this athlete with enormous talent is simply underdeveloped in one of the key mental training areas that I would call ‘emotional control’ or ‘energy control.'”

Dr. Murray, author of The Mental Performance Index as well as the highly-acclaimed Smart Tennis, is one of the nation’s foremost sports psychologists. He is often called “the most quoted psychologist in America.”

He cautions not to read too much into some of Beckham’s behavior over the past couple of seasons and that he wouldn’t want to change the player or the personality.

“Temperament is like hair color,” Murray said. “It comes in all different forms. Top athletes can often appear manic or even depressed after games but this does not necessarily mean they are going off the deep end. The key is smart performance on the field that allows an athlete to play consistently at his highest level.”

Hope you have enjoyed this feature article from the world of sports psychology.

Jamar Taylor Helps in Cleveland Browns First Win & Endorses Dr. John F Murray’s Sports Psychology

Sports Psychology Feature – December 27, 2016 – Former Miami Dolphins and current Cleveland Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor is back in a very big way. The Miami Dolphins probably should not have let him get away. His terrific play last Sunday helped the Browns to their first victory of the season, and he was rewarded for his play with a new 3-year, 15 million dollar contract extension. Prior to the season he was released by the Miami Dolphins, and his status as a newly signed Cleveland Browns player was uncertain at best. He wasn’t even on the top of the depth chart. But he wanted more and he wanted to have a great season mentally and to make it in the NFL.  Taylor called sports psychologist John F Murray and they began working together in the spring of 2016. The rest is history as he had a superb season. After the big win against the Chargers in week 15, Taylor wrote the following about the benefits of mental coaching and sports psychology:

“Dr. John F Murray’s mental coaching and sports psychology services helped me get ready for the 2016 season with great confidence and focus. We focused on what I have done in the past to help me reach what I wanted in the future. With great confidence and focus we were able to get positive results”    Jamar Taylor, Cleveland Browns cornerback, December, 2016

Thank you for the comments Jamar and keep up the great work! Below is an article that just came out after the Browns  stunning victory over the San Diego Chargers:

CLEVELAND — WYKC TV – The Cleveland Browns rewarded veteran cornerback Jamar Taylor with a three-year contract extension (for 15 million dollars) earlier this month, and he repaid that faith with a solid defensive performance against the San Diego Chargers at FirstEnergy Stadium Saturday.

Taylor defended three passes, intercepted another and registered five total tackles in helping the Browns to a 20-17 win over the Chargers for their first victory of the season.

“They kept trying me, but I knew I was just going to keep making plays,” Taylor said. “I didn’t know if they thought I was going to be the weak link, but I knew I wasn’t going to be that guy. My teammates depend on me, and our coaches do a great job of preparing us all week. Every time they tried to make a play, I tried to make one too.”

The Chargers scored on each of their first two drives of the game, and the 43-yard field goal from Josh Lambo gave them a 10-7 lead over the Browns with 1:49 to play in the first quarter.

Lambo’s field goal capped off a seven-play, 50-yard drive that took 3:23 off the first-quarter clock.

The Chargers started the drive at their own 25-yard line, but a 15-yard pass from quarterback Philip Rivers to wide receiver Travis Benjamin moved the ball up to the San Diego 40-yard line.

On the next play, Rivers found wide receiver Tyrell Williams for a 27-yard gain that became a 42-yard play when Taylor was flagged for unnecessary roughness after exchanging shoves and words with Williams out of bounds.

However, Taylor broke up a potential touchdown pass and his interception led to a Browns field goal.

“He made some plays,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “He is a guy I am glad our organization signed back here. I think he is another one of the young building blocks on our football team as we move forward.

“He has made some plays all year, and the guy has been playing injured, so I am really appreciative of his effort and what he has tried to do by staying out there. We have a lot of guys that are banged up, but they were not going to give up the chance to win a game together, and that is what they were able to do.”

After playing a critical role in the outcome, Taylor embraced the fact that the Browns’ win over the Chargers broke a 17-game losing streak.

“It was a great team win,” Taylor said. “The offense started on fire. They held it down when we were messing up. The defense, we capitalized. They were driving and we got off the field, and that’s what it’s about. Getting off the field, give the offense a chance and give them a short field. We just played our tails off.

“It’s real special for Cleveland and for Head Coach Hue. It hasn’t been the best year, but we know if we just stick together and find a way, no excuses, just find a way. It’s big for Cleveland, but more importantly, this team and Coach Hue.”

I hope you have enjoyed this feature article from the world of sports psychology.