Subscribe to It Has Nothing to Do with Age by Email Follow Tusk95664 on Twitter It Has Nothing to Do with Age: September 2015
It Has Nothing To Do With Age provides self-help principles. The inspirational stories give concrete illustrations of overcoming many of life's challenges. Difficulties pertaining to depression, grief, divorce, and death are presented and worked through by the participants. Physical impairments, injuries, overcoming issues with weight, alcohol, and nicotine are also dealt with and resolved by the athletes.

This book provides a model on how to overcome some of the difficulties that confront all of us . Further, this read sheds a beacon of light on preventive measures for good physical and mental health. Research demonstrates that exercise is an important component in treating such ailments and debilitating illness such as depression, stroke, heart disease, brain or cognitive malfunction,and Alzheimer's disease.

I suggest that proper exercise can be used as a preventive measure for psychological, cognitive, and physical health as well. Follow my prescription and lead a better, more fulfilling, and healthier life.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In Ann Arbor with Jim Harbaugh

I had a few moments to talk to Jim after the show. I confessed to him that I didn’t clap for him while he was coaching the San Francisco 49ers, because my favorite team was the Oakland Raiders. I added that I was happy that he was the quarterback position coach with the Raiders in 2002 -2003. He then said to me “what’s your second favorite team?” I responded that the Detroit Lions were my second favorite team. Afterwards, I thought more about the question. My favorite baseball team is the Oakland A’s followed by the Detroit Tigers. When it comes to college football, my favorite team is the University of Michigan, followed by Michigan State University. I remember during spring training 2015 that coach Harbaugh visited the Athletics manager Bob Melvin in Arizona, and was part of that celebrity coaching staff.

One main theme expressed by coach Harbaugh was about expecting his players and team to improve.  It is believed that improvement in practice results in better team game performance. The cliché is” one plays how one practices. “So it’s always about the individual player improving. This fits nicely with the idea of the ego ideal, which is the unconscious drive to continually improve -psychologically, physically, emotionally, etc. When coach Harbaugh talks about improving, that corresponds nicely within each player’s psyche. Unconsciously, we all want to improve and remove our deficits.  When the head coach expressed the idea of everyday improvement, that is in consonance and congruent as everyone wants to improve and get better.

Self-improvement for a football player means greater on the field achievement. Murray’s “n “or need for Achievement fits well with athletes. Murray defined n Achievement as accomplishing something difficult; to master; to overcome obstacles and attain a high standard; to excel; to rival and surpass others and to increase self-regard, or esteem. Throwing a football with accuracy with a plus or minus 250 pound opposing player running at you, and wanting to throw you forcibly to the ground, I would say is a difficult on the field situation. Some quarterbacks have mastered the ability to stay in the pocket even when surrounded knowingly they’re likely going to receive a tremendous physical blow to their head, body, or both. Certain quarterbacks have the reputation of “happy feet”, meaning they leave the pocket too quickly, and likely throw an incomplete pass or interception. So despite potential achievement for success, the football player has to physically and mentally defeat his opponent in order to be successful on every play. In so doing, Murray’s n Abasement is also in play. This need is about accepting injury, blame, and punishment; to admit wrongdoing or error; to blame one self and to seek and enjoy pain or punishment in the process.

In other words, every football player has both n Achievement and n Abasement in his psychological makeup and these needs are expressed over and over in practice, and during game day. In a recent discussion with running back Fritz Seyferth, he told me about that the hardest football hits [tackled] he received were from teammate Mike Taylor. Fritz scored four touchdowns in one game against the University of Minnesota; was drafted by the New York Giants, and played for the Calgary Stampeders until an injury forced his retirement from professional football. Middle linebacker Mike Taylor was a consensus first-team All-American; and selected as one of the 100 greatest Michigan football players of all-time. Taylor was a first round selection by the New York Jets and started five games for this team as a linebacker. He later signed a multiyear contract with the Detroit Wheels of the World Football League. Head Coach Dan Boisture said, after the signing, that Taylor would be the focal point of our defense. Fritz said he can still feel the hits by Taylor.

Mike Keller, a defensive end-linebacker, an All-American; third pick by the world Champion Dallas Cowboys; and player, scout said that going up against offensive guard Reggie McKenzie in practice was no picnic. Reggie was an All-American; first pick by the Buffalo Bills; was the head of the electric company [it turned on the  Juice] and primarily and instrumental in OJ Simpson’s setting, the NFL rushing record of over 2000 yards in  a single season. Both Fritz and Mike demonstrated the Need for Achievement, and Abasement during their University of Michigan and pro football careers.

Is true that coach Harbaugh’s father Jack coached at the University Michigan. It’s also true that Jim Harbaugh was an All-American quarterback at the University of Michigan playing for Coach Bo Schembechler. According to Fritz and Mike, coach Schembechler at times single-minded mission was to run the same play over and over again. Success was when play was run without error. In fact, Reggie McKenzie repeated to me, one of Bo’s infamous sayings “do it right, the first time, every time, and all the time.” Every member of Bo’s teams got it. And, Jim Harbaugh is instilling that dynamic with his University of Michigan Wolverine football team. It is no surprise that coach Harbaugh focuses on improvement. As with coach Schembechler, coach Harbaugh believes in constant improvement and is never satisfied with the status quo.

More about these individuals, can be found in Bo’s Warriors-Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football.

Go Blue!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Warriors of Bo Schembechler Part 4

And then Schembechler became his coach. Jim said that Schembechler prepared his players to be mentally tough and for Jim, mental toughness was “never giving in.” He stated that mental toughness is an attitude, it’s not quitting. He also learned to form good habits and to develop a winning attitude, regardless of the physical and mental obstacles or punishment. He realized that failure was possible because there was always somebody on the field, who was better than him. He worked on fundamentals over and over again, because he didn’t want to let down his teammates. He remembered that he did drills and more drills and had plenty of physical contact with pads during practices. He thought the practice intensity was high, almost like game intensity as the drills were very physical. Because he weighed more than 250 pounds, he had to run what was called a penalty mile and remembered, that distance running, being very tough on him. Another brutal strengthening drill was pushing a blocking sled with both arms extended, which he practiced over and over again. He didn’t want to miss any blocking assignments, because then he knew he would let his teammates down.

Coach Schembechler and staff treated Jim harshly. For instance, his coach said things like “we wasted a scholarship on you;” and” you’re the worst tackle in the history of intercollegiate football.” Jim told himself that the coaches were doing this so that he would get better. They were verbally and physically pushing him and pushing him and then he said “Bo knew I could take it and I could.” In the end psychologically, it was Jim’s ability, his unconscious rebelliousness, defiance, and likely obstinacy and arrogance “to take it” from Bo. This allowed Jim to be the master of his own fate and destiny, thereby succeeding in front of his peers, and actually gaining the much needed respect.
Schembechler’s Wolverines had a punt blocked in one of their season games. So during the next week of practice, the coach told the players he would give money to any defensive player that blocked the punt. Lo and behold, during one punting drill, the ball was snapped, Jim made his block and ran downfield for the tackle. However, the ball was blocked. Schembechler was furious and ran down the field after Brandstatter thinking he missed his block, which resulted in the blocked kick. Upon reaching his player, coach Schembechler spitting, yelling, ranting, raving was angrily giving it to Jim berating him unmercifully. Jerry Hanlon, line coach to the rescue, ran after Bo and said to him “Jim made his block.” Stopping the beating, the frustrated Bo said something to the effect that” he needed it anyway.” More than once, and numerous times the young athletically talented Brandstatter submitted passively to the mighty and external force of his coach. He accepted criticism, he surrendered, he had to go along with this blame, and punishment. One can argue that he didn’t enjoy the pain, or was it a noble sign of macho, courage, mental and physical toughness? No one physically forced him to go out on that brutal playing field over and over again. Did he seek and enjoy it, certainly? Psychologically, it was expected just his father, brother and teammates endured. He was driven. His father was a Brigadier General; his older brother played on the big stage; he was the youngest; and he attended a parochial school. Yes, Jim knew very well about yielding and self-humiliation. His strong will allowed him, even at the risk of humiliation, to continue and thereby succeeding.

Murray and the Freudians had it right. Human behavior is highly influenced by need structure, or a hypothetical state of tension within the organism. These needs are based on goal directed behavior, with the many psychological and physical barriers in their path. No one ever said that the n Achievement was easy to accomplish. However, we do go after difficulties and, with achievement goal attainment we increased positive feelings about self. Achievement of significant goals feels good for a number of reasons. Further, n Abasement or sadomasochism gets expressed over and over again. Playing football is just one example of this expression of need. One has to remember, that seeking and enjoying pain or punishment is not always at the conscious level. Not only that, there are other reasons or motives that explain the drive to succeed. Perhaps, at times the n Achievement factors in goal driven behavior can be one such factor. The important goal is relentlessly pursued regardless of the impairments or barriers in its way.

For example, my last recent competitive 20 mile trail run was in the Sierra Nevada’s. That meant plenty of elevation gain during my run. Temperature reaching triple digits, added to my physical pain as I was punishing my 75-year-old body. I continued and finished the run and was very happy when it was over. Sure, I came in first place at my age group. Did I punish my body during the run, sure thing? Will I do it again, sure? How can I argue that I didn’t seek the pain? I rationalize that as long as I can, I’ll do it. For me, the “I can” is a very important component of my personality.

Don’t forget to join us at Sesi Motors in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on September 17 from 6 to 8 PM for a book signing of Bo’s Warriors -Bo Schembechler and the Transformation of Michigan Football and to interact with Thom Darden, Jim Brandstatter, Mike Keller, Fritz  Seyferth, Jim Betts, and others in my book. Congratulations to our host and newly elected President of Michigan Football Athletic Network [MFAN] Jim Betts. Wine and hors d’oeuvres are on the menu.

Looking forward to it: Go Blue!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Warriors of Bo Schembechler- Part 3

Jim experienced a lot of pressure to succeed, and was expected to be like all the other Brandstatters. As a young boy, he remembered fondly being around older brother Art when he brought his fellow Spartan teammates to the family home. As a sophomore, Jim, on the Junior varsity, was quickly promoted to his high school varsity team, and lettered. This high achieving athlete received honors and lettered in baseball as an all-city first baseman one year and an all-city catcher the following year. He even lettered in basketball and was a co-captain in the last game of his high school’s postseason basketball tourney.

Although Jim was expected to attend and play football for Michigan State like his father and older brother, he was still recruited by Coach Bump Elliott from the University Michigan and MSU’s arch rival, no less. He caused quite the stir in the community and family when he elected to play football in Ann Arbor. Playing for the University of Michigan, he received all Big Ten honors in his senior year.

While in school, Jim gave up the dream of becoming an architect and instead fell in love with all the radio and TV classes. In fact his first position after graduating from Michigan was for WEYI -TV in the Saginaw, Bay City and Flint area. Initially, he was a one-man show, and worked himself up the ranks. In doing so, Jim mastered the art of TV and radio, and quickly made it to the big time with Channel 4 in Detroit as their sports producer.

One accomplishment led to another as this industrious TV and radio star, created a half-hour talk show called Michigan Replay with Coach Schembechler. Since that initial show, Jim has interviewed all the Michigan head coaches, such as Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke that followed, the legend Schembechler. Last year, Mike Keller and I were on the Brady Hoke-Jim Brandstatter radio show. This year, Mike and I will be featured on the Jim Harbaugh-Jim Brandstatter radio show.  Incidentally, Jim also does play-by-play, on the radio with former Michigan teammate Dan Dierdorf. Oh by the way, Jim is also the voice of the Detroit Lions. Masterful Jim has been elected President of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association twice; Sportscaster of the year in Michigan; has written two best-selling books; and was recently inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. This man still achieves at the highest levels.

More to follow regarding Jim Brandstatter

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Warriors of Bo Schembechler Part 2

It is very clear at this point that n Achievement in sports, complements n Abasement, especially in the brutal game of football. There is no one that discounts the brutality in this so-called sport. Thursday on ESPN, Hall of Fame, quarterback Steve Young said something to the effect that football is not natural as you have people running full speed at each other colliding with each other. We’re also going to see huge compensatory concussion settlements in the NFL.

Returning to Mike Keller’s story illustrates, insecurity, along with the sadomasochism [Another term related to n Abasement] experienced during his playing days at the University of Michigan and for the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL. Keller played high school football in Grand Rapids. He rated that competition at the fourth tier regarding football in the state of Michigan behind the Detroit, Bay City-Midland, and Lansing area high schools. He knew he was a big fish in a little pond and that he was going to become a little fish in a big pond, in Ann Arbor. He wondered why he was offered a football scholarship, and hoped to make the traveling squad before he graduated. He rationalized that at least he would receive a terrific education even in the event that he didn’t play.

 Physically, he was injured while playing at Michigan. He didn’t dare miss practices or not being able to play in a game, out of fear of the demotion to second string or below. He even warned opposing players. In practice, to take it easy or otherwise, there would be a battle of consequences. He thought that playing on Saturdays was a relief from the physical brutality and punishment during the hard-fought Wolverine practices. In 1969, after the Ohio State game, Mike said he was aware of his game day exhaustion, especially on the last play of that momentous game. On the field for the last play, his legs buckled. He was fearful that he was going to be trampled on by the joyous students as they rushed on the field in celebration. Mike remembered that instead of being trampled, they lifted him and carried him halfway up the tunnel out of harm’s way to welcomed safety.

Playing for the Cowboys, Mike’s insecurity and brittleness surfaced again when he admitted to himself “these guys are good; how can I make first string; is this really what I want to do; how long am I going to be here; I do not like being a backup; it’s not much fun.” In his second season, Mike suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery [The same shoulder he had injured at Michigan]. He was eventually placed on injured reserve and he knew that psychologically that was a kiss of death. He frequently got twinges and pains like a needle or knife entering his body. He said the pain was constant, and frequently returned especially, when playing. He knew that after any major surgery, that no one really comes back from these career ending injuries. Basically, he had a gradual tearing of the tendon in his shoulder. In his most recent x-ray, it was revealed that his tendon was gone. He had a supraspinatus muscle tendon issue. Today, this mountain of a man, is unable to hold a 20 pound dumbbell outstretched with his right arm.

Mike talked about mental toughness as a player. A football bruiser had to differentiate, between pain and injury. It was important for the player to know his body. It’s also important to rely on information given by the team trainers. He said it’s possible to play with pain, especially when your body was taped along with cortisone and other painkiller injections prior to the game. Professional football players undergo many extraordinary treatments, partly because of the belief that they are needed to be on the field at all times. It’s considered important to be on the field regardless of how you’re feeling. And of course is difficult to think clearly when adrenaline is cursing through your veins. Mike’s playing days ended with the Cowboys as a result of his football injury. We talked about mental toughness and the fact that players are expected to play with pain. Most of the players have a high pain tolerance because daily pain is a major component or part of the game. He said it’s hard to think of professional football as just a game-it is a job. One can have pain and still have torn ligaments. However, a player can still play and should play. He added that despite the pain killers, this game is always about current performance, not what the player did yesterday.

A football brawler accepts injury, blame, criticism, and punishment. It’s not a secret that injuries are part of the game. Nor, is it a secret that NFL means not for long as three and half years is the average playing time. Players are criticized by the media and the press. The punishment is being fired, or cut from the team and that happens frequently. Of course there are exceptions.

The n Achievement and n Abasement of Jim Brandstatter to follow.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Warriors of Bo Schembechler

The first of Murrays “need” which we will refer to is “n Achievement.” Murray’s brief definition follows: To accomplish something difficult. To master, manipulate, organize physical objects, human beings, or ideas. To do this as rapidly and as independently as possible. To overcome obstacles and attain a high standard. To excel oneself. To rival and surpass others. To increase self-regard by the successful exercise of talent.

 Mike Keller provides us with an illustration. Mike was originally recruited by Bump Elliott and was one of Schembechler’s talented sophomores in 1969. Keller, highly competitive begin achieving prior to school age. At the age of four, he was racing his highly competitive achieving mother in foot races. He excelled in football at an early age, and played during halftime with his Peewee football team at Tiger Stadium in front of a Detroit Lions crowd. By the time he reached junior high, Mike was about 6 feet tall and weighed about 160 pounds as an eighth grader. His football coach at the time allowed him only to practice [He was disallowed from playing competitive football because of the size] during football season. He claimed he made most of the tackles, but made sure he did not attempt to hurt anybody.

Mike played and excelled in a number of team sports at Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids. By graduation time, he had may be 30 or so universities recruiting him to play big-time college football. He chose the University of Michigan. This exceptionally talented athlete was fast and competitive. As a freshman, he made sure to give his best effort all the time. And as a sophomore, he attained first string status. His achievement did not diminish during those three years under coach Schembechler. Bo, as the coach installed a rating system [Might’ve been intercepting a pass] for each game. Mike received Victors Club Honors for his high grades in 38 out of 40 games played. On top of that, Mike was permitted to wear a special Jersey during that week of practice, illustrating his game played achievement. At the end of the season, the player who had the most Victor Club jerseys received a trophy at the end of the season. Mike Keller earned 3, one for each year played.

Because of his terrific achievements, accomplishments, high standards, excelling, high self-regard and exercising talent, Mike Keller, All-American, was selected to play in the college All-Star game against the world champion Dallas Cowboys. He was selected by the Dallas Cowboys as the 64th player taken in the NFL draft. Mike Keller illustrated Henry A. Murray’s existence of a need for achievement. It was the result of his particular mode of behavior, his satisfaction, his emotions while playing sports, and especially excelling in the so-called game of football.

The n Abasement, another of Dr.  Murray’s needs to follow regarding Mike Keller.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Problem of Cortisol

 Let’s face it, an infant is born helpless, dependent, unable to locomote, feed itself, anxious, and unable to survive very long when left to its own devices. These qualities set the stage for man’s developmental vulnerabilities in coping with the seemingly, at times, hostile world. In other words, our perceptions, memories and emotions are supposed to help us, protect us to be able to survive [From all the physical and social stressors-dangers] that exist in our world.

The infant develops, acquiring various needs that accompany and affect his unfolding in his psychological environment. The infant, child, adolescent  has to deal with his family dynamics , social and academic hazards of schooling,   economic, political, and religious socialization while developing a sense of self and independence. Don’t forget that such hormones as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone accompany him or her in developing gender or sexual identity. To say, there is enormous pressure, and other stressors experienced during these turbulent years is an understatement.

Then, during the adult years, man for instance, gets bombarded 24-7 by government’s political entertainment actors on radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, etc. Our 2016 presidential race unfortunately has already begun. We’re told typically about the dangers [49% indicated that they worry about another terror attack while 22% said they’re not sure in a recent poll in the 8-2- 15  New York Times] that are present in our world over and over. We are sometimes told that military bombing and military boots on the ground are necessary to solve the terrorist problem in existence. I would guess that hearing over and over about bombings, beheadings, drone strike killings, and that negotiating a bad deal or not negotiating are stress producers and not stress reducers. Don’t forget about the bad economy, climate change and water shortage as well. And with stress, we realize the hormone cortisol is produced to help us deal with this induced danger. To demonstrate, how fragile we are in the release of cortisol and its negative effect on decision-making behavior, I point to research conducted by the Laboratory for Social and Neural Systems Research at the University of Zürich found in the 8-23-15 edition of The New York Times.

These researchers picked 51 young men [That claimed they were trying to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle] to study the relationship between stress and eating behavior. The experimental group of men were subjected to soaking their hands in a bowl of icy water for as long as they could. This was a test, known to induce mild psychological and physiological stress- the release of the hormone cortisol. Then all the men [The experimental and control group] rated different kinds of food on a computer screen based on taste and healthfulness. After that variable was completed, the next variable was a brain scanning machine that measured their responses comparing one of two   healthful foods pairings.

The research findings were as follows: 1. The mild stress group with their higher levels of cortisol chose unhealthier, but tasty foods compared to the control group. 2. The higher the cortisone level, the greater attraction to rich, tasty unhealthy foods. 3. These cortisol driven men displayed more activity in the part of the brain associated with the enjoyment of tasty foods. They had fewer neural messages in the part of the brain that affects long-range planning. Long-range planning [Separates us from animals] and is an executive function located in the cerebral cortex. In essence, a mildly induced stressor amplified the perceived flavor of unhealthy foods. It also negatively affected man’s rational ability to consider healthy foods. One could surmise that self-control is negatively affected as well.

 If a mild stressor, for a very limited time, affects brain chemistry that significantly, you probably can or can’t imagine the degree of brain chemistry variability and its accompanying damage to our fragile brain. Just think about typical every day interpersonal relationships, work or non- work environments, navigating with clenched knuckles-road rage in congested traffic as a few of our constant stressors. Not only does this occur, but it is without the side effects of prescribed medications, GMO additives, alcohol and smoking addictions. Is there any surprise as to why we have serious health issues in our country? I think not. It’s obvious that it’s inevitable.

Some strategies to cope with the many stressors in our world. As a psychologist, I would consider psychotherapy. 1. Some clinicians operate under a theoretical orientation and believe that our thinking gets us into trouble.  One significant way to more effectively deal with the relationship of emotions, thinking and behavior is to challenge our cognitive ideas. They believe that emotions affects our thinking and our thinking affects our emotions. 2. Other clinicians operate under an eclectic theoretical orientation that encompasses Freudian, Humanistic, Cognitive-Behavioral and Behavioristic principles. These principles help with understanding underlying dynamics, so that the individual can better understand motivation. 3. Self-help ideas of Mindfulness, Yoga, and Hypnotherapy can be learned from others, and then applied personally. 4. Other strategies to be considered, include: Exercise, Nutritious, Eating, Spirituality, and Finding Meaning during your health and life span. No one said it’s easy.  Too many people exhibit erroneous, self-defeating beliefs and behaviors. Just look at the statistics regarding health, illness, death and disease during lifespan.