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2009年8月27日 (木)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:世間との闘いの難しさ /東京

(Mainichi Japan) August 27, 2009
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Striving for excellence can be a double-edged sword
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:世間との闘いの難しさ /東京

I suspect that there have been many sleepy-eyed sports enthusiasts determined to overcome the time difference between Japan and far-off Berlin to take in the World Championships in Athletics recently.

The astounding display of speed put on by Jamaica's Usain Bolt in particular captured not just the people in the stands, but many of us around the world. One announcer, when seeing Bolt on the track, exclaimed "How fast can a human being go!" Even after breaking his own 100 meter world record, Bolt was ready to try for an even faster time, declaring, "I always say anything is possible."

But while I stand in wonder at Bolt's physical ability and psychological strength, I also find myself thinking: Is there a need to go any faster?

At the news conference held after winning the 200 meter race, the topic of doping came in repeatedly. Furthermore, questions about South African runner Caster Semenya's gender continued to arise after she won the women's 800 meter race, paining her father, who said, "She is my little girl. ... I raised her and I have never doubted her gender. She is a woman and I can repeat that a million times."

"Faster! Faster!" the world demands, and athletes respond by training to the limits of mind and body. And when these athletes fulfill our expectations, getting ever stronger and setting ever faster times, we look at them askance and say, "That's too fast. Something must be up." Thus is the fate of all world athletics champions, and I must admit I feel a little sorry for them.

The athletes themselves probably wonder if they wouldn't be the subject of doubts if they had failed our expectations. They may feel they have to push themselves to the limit every time out, knowing that they would be attacked if they didn't put their all into their training.

This kind of thinking also often appears in our everyday lives. We try our best to meet the expectations of those around us and, when successful, are either told "Next time, aim higher," or suspected of cheating somehow. If this kind of treatment is kept up long enough, even those among us with remarkable abilities will retreat into their shells, slowly coming to distrust those around them and the world in general. Perhaps those celebrities recently caught up in drug use are among those who have "lost" to that kind of pressurized existence.

To prevent falling into this performance pressure spiral, the best thing to do is to think to yourself, "Well, this will do," neither letting yourself be driven by others' expectations or betraying them. Saying that, I wonder if we would be shocked if Bolt strung together a series of narrow wins instead of record-shattering performances?

For the athletes in Berlin --and for the rest of us -- far more difficult than challenging records or rivals is challenging society itself. That's what I understood from watching the World Championships in Athletics. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

毎日新聞 2009年8月25日 地方版


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