The Psychology of Pain (or, Don’t Panic, Fire Fans)By: Sean | August 31st, 2010
It’s hard to watch your team drop points the way the Fire have recentlyand keep a stiff upper lip. There’s something particularly galling about again having the opposition’s main threat completely unmarked to take all the honors, driving our Fire out before them, hearing the lamentations of Section 8 et al.
Perversely, Montero’s felt worse, which is strange: Seattle are a solid team, and losing in front of 35,000 crazies is hardly an unexpected result; while Houston are in the midst of their worst season in years, feckless and underwhelming. Yet Montero’s header trumps Ching’s in the pain department. Weird.
I was puzzled until I read this piece by Andrew Guest on pitchinvasion.net entitled A Mental Game: Pain. No, the piece wasn’t about the Fire – it was about the psychology of pain, with particular attention to the fact that our perception of pain is tied strongly to our expectation of it. In brief, a pain we anticipate (and know to be unpleasant) will be felt more strongly than a sudden pain we either didn’t see coming or expected to be inconsequential.
It’s not hard to see this playing out in Chicago fans’ frustration with the results of the season to date. Losing is one thing – losing repeatedly in predictable ways (i.e., not freaking marking) is an emotional one-two.
Which leads to the point: Fellow Fire fans, don’t yet despair! September is the month that will decide how 2010 is remembered. Chicago enters the month five points out of the playoffs with two games in hand; the six games in September (home vs. Galaxy, Toronto, Seattle; away vs. Philly, Salt Lake and San Jose) will decide how October looks.