1991 Volume 35 Issue 4 Pages 313-323
Recently, sports psychologists and coaches have been taking a growing interest in mental training not only for improving athletic performance but also for the benefit of the athletes'mental health. Athlete's burnout is one of the important topics in the realm of mental health for athletes. The purpose of the present study is to clarify the formation process of athlete's burnout through the examination of five cases. The subjects utilized in this study consisted of two psychotherapeutic clients, two research interview study cases and another case consisting of materials concerning the suicide of a world-class long distance runner. All subjects were diamosed as burnout cases by recognizing the particular process <enthusiasm→stagation→clinging to sports→exhaustion> which we have proposed as one the of diagnostic criteria for athlete's burnout. Three of these cases were also assessed by two psychological tests which determined their degree of burnout. Various events or factors contributing to the formation of burnout were extracted from interview records, and charts were individually drawn to illustrate the formation process.Additionally, tendencies common among each of the cases were depicted by the montage method developed by Mita. The authors discuss the psychological mechanism of the formation of athlete's burnout, in terms of caune-result relationship, according to the following four main factors : 1) A premorbid character as melancholic type or immodithymia. 2) Repeated experiences in which one's efforts are not rewarded (in the sports setting). 3) Difficulty in reformulation of ego identity. 4) Low mutuality in one's past crisis mode. The "clinging" stage in the formation process of burnout is caused by the above mentioned four factors. The authors especially find the "clinging" stage to be a key to understanding the development of burnout.