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Cy Young, Zack Greinke, and Social Anxiety

    

Baseball’s best story of 2009 just got better.

As reported in a previous entry here (July 2, 2009), major league baseball has in recent years seen a spike in the number of players reporting symptoms of Social Anxiety.  Perhaps the most noteworthy example of this trend is Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals, who missed much of the 2006 season due to his struggles with the condition.

What a difference a few years makes.

This year, Greinke was the dominant pitcher in the American League, going 16-8 with an ERA of just 2.16.  He started the season with six straight victories, with a remarkable 0.40 ERA over that span.  He was selected to the American League all-star team, and pitched a perfect inning in the summer classic.  He came back after the break and went 6-1 in August, and had a 1.75 ERA in his final 11 starts.  Imagine what he could have done on a good team!

Greinke was honored for his spectacular season by being named the best pitcher in the American League by both the Sporting News and the MLB Players Association.  His incredible turnaround year was capped this week when it was announced that he was the American League Cy Young Award winner, the highest honor a pitcher can receive.

Just three years ago, many in baseball were concerned that Greinke, then a struggling 23-year old, would never live up to his potential in the big leagues.  His Social Anxiety was severe enough that he missed two months of the season and sought out treatment with a sports psychologist.  He came back the hard way, returning to the minors and eventually earning his way back to the Royals, and into their starting rotation.

As Greinke stands at the top of his profession, it is worth repeating that he has accomplished all this while battling Social Anxiety.  It’s hard enough for anyone to challenge this potentially disabling disorder.  Now imagine challenging it in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans and on national television.  Greinke is testimony to the fact that Social Anxiety can be managed and overcome if a person seeks help and dedicates themselves to facing their fears head on.  He deserves all the accolades he is receiving, and is an inspiration for people everywhere struggling with Social Anxiety.

•Tom Corboy, MFT, is the director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, a private, outpatient clinic specializing in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related conditions.  In addition to individual therapy, the center offers six weekly therapy groups, as well as online therapy, telephone therapy, and intensive outpatient treatment.  To contact the OCD Center of Los Angeles, click here.

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