There’s little doubt that in the macho world of sports many people remain insensitive to what one might call weakness, especially when it applies to an athlete’s emotions. When a player loses his cool, as Carlos Zambrano frequently has, he often is perceived as a loose cannon.
Some armchair psychiatrists, however, take it a step further by diagnosing Zambrano as a "head case" because of his undesirable behavior. Such misguided labeling is harmful to the pitcher in question and to people who suffer from genuine psychological disorders.
In contemporary American society, diseases of the mind (in terms of general respect and financial assistance) exist far below all physical aliments. Stigmas often follow people who struggle with mental health issues on a daily basis. Depressed patients, for example, may become depressed about their depression and how they are viewed by others.
Since we cannot see when something is awry with one’s mind, like we can when someone has a cast on a broken leg, some of us dismiss emotional problems as personal defects and then replace empathy with judgements that originate from fear or ignorance. This needs to stop, but it’s evident that such a change in perception won’t occur soon.
As long as people continue to attach terms with negative connotations to Zambrano’s psychological state, they diminish him as a person and, in the process, increase stereotypes about members of the mental health community.