Vol Nation Psychology

Are you experiencing a trauma-bond with Phil Fulmer?


by Tony Basilo If Phillip Fulmer and staff keep this up, I may start a counseling hotline. This isn't about the state of Tennessee's football program. This is about the psyche of a fan-base. It's time to take Big Orange Country's temperature as only a makeshift pop psychologist can. So here's Tony's read on the â“Pulseâ” of the Tennessee fan base.

For many in the Vol Nation, Tennessee football has become a stressor (noun). Psychologymatters.org says â“a stressor is an internal or external event or stimulus that induces stress.â” Yeah. I'd say that about covers everybody in Big Orange Country. Even the most positive of our beloved fans couldn't have been smiling after Cal racked up 471 yards of total offense. The display left ABC's suddenly punchy color commentator Kirk Herbstreit to opine that UT resembled â“a junior varsity team on the field with the big boys.â” This piling on by an always-trusted member of college football's media has left us with a stereotype threat (noun). This is the â“threat associated with being at risk for confirming a negative stereotype of one's group.â” We all realize our Volunteers can't line up in signature games anymore.

So Tennessee leaves the Cal debacle a divided nation. Many were already tired of Phillip Fulmer's brand of football aeons ago. Some apparently can't get enough. For these fans, attachment to the current regime could represent a trauma-bond . Psychological studies reveal that â“if a person is unable to escape chronic, traumatic abuse, they will eventually begin to bond with their perpetrator(s).â” One study at PTSDforum.com states that â“victims may reach a state of feeling that they are â‘robotized' or non-feeling, combined with a disruption in the capacity for intimacy caused by the trauma.â”

Isn't that the way it must feel fighting for the current Tennessee regime these days? Roughly 25 percent of Vol fans woke up the Sunday after Cal in the following state: They tell themselves it's okay and that it's going to get better, but 45-31 on national television tells a different story. Many are being greeted by an intervention (noun): â“The act of intervening; interposition.â” Their trauma-bonded nature has many family members encouraging them to escape the punishment of another season inside the big tent. To the trauma-bonded , UT can do no wrong.  

Mention the state of Tennessee football to 25 percent of UT's fan family and you'll get impulsive aggression (noun). This is an

â“Emotion-driven aggression produced in reaction to situations in the â‘heat of the moment.'â” These folks are the â“middleâ” and help create hilarious talk radio immediately following games because they speak without thinking. They all want the coaches fired in the moment only to wake up the next day to find themselves sandwiched between the trauma-bonders and our next Big Orange faction, the Egocentrics (adj.). Egocentrism is described in cognitive development as the â“inability of a young child at the pre-operational stage to take the perspective of another person.â” These people want the head coach fired!

Tennessee's poor season opener no doubt bolstered this group's impatience with consensual validation (noun). This is â“the mutual affirmation of conscious views of reality.â” They are asking things like â“we really suck, why can't everybody see that?â” and â“We're really going to get jacked-up by Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Arkansas & Kentucky, aren't we?â” Their boisterous single-mindedness no doubt feeds this. These people will take over talk-radio after a UT loss with the intention of fostering fiber-optic aversion therapy (noun). This is â“a type of behavioral therapy used to treat individuals attracted to harmful stimuli; an attractive stimulus is paired with a noxious stimulus in order to elicit a negative reaction to the target stimulus.â” The target stimulus is the current regime and this group that wants it gone is growing by the day. That they represent the largest group in our sample at 50 percent would have me concerned if I were the stimuli.

Tune in and talk sports with Tony Basilio weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on ESPN Radio WVLZ 1180 AM.   Visit www.tonybasilio.com for more information.


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