It all started when a 38-year-old man walked into a doctor's surgery in Leeds and began describing a set of symptoms to his increasingly puzzled GP.
The man - a physically healthy father of two with no previous psychiatric history - had been troubled by a succession of thoughts and feelings that had appeared from nowhere and had led him to question his sanity.
The GP instantly recognized that a more specialist assessment was needed and arranged an emergency appointment at the local mental health facility. It was here that Clinical Psychologist Dr. Chris Hogg first encountered the patient and made an amazing discovery.
"The man was very disturbed when I first saw him. He was highly agitated and distressed. Eventually he was able to describe how he had felt swamped by feelings that had overwhelmed him and that he could not deal with. Something had clearly happened to this otherwise unremarkable man to lead to such a disintegration of his mental well being."
Dr. Hogg's investigation into the patient's background initially yielded few clues; the man was happily married, a devoted father and was employed as a manager of a well known electrical goods retailer; a job he enjoyed. In his spare time he liked family outings, gardening and was a keen cricket fan, attending Yorkshire and England games whenever family and work commitments allowed.
"I asked him to talk a little about each aspect of his life to see if I could pinpoint the area which had led to his breakdown", Dr. Hogg continued "he was happy talking about his wife and children, his job and his friends but something strange happened when I mentioned cricket. The man became very upset, alternating between anger and tears. I knew then that this was where the answer lay."
|Dr. Chris Hogg: "it was one of the most baffling cases in all my 25 years of treating loonies"|
At first Dr. Hogg thought that his patient had possibly suffered a cricketing head injury, or an early mid-life crisis.
In fact the man's condition was related to something much simpler ... he had started feeling sorry for Surrey.
"It became clear at the end of one session that his long standing hatred of Surrey - or the 'Brown Hatters' as he himself described them - had taken on a new twist. As well as initially raging against 'soft southern poofters', biased test selectors and the Hollioake brothers, the man began exhibiting more sympathetic thought processes. I first noticed it in a group session when he put forward the idea that Martin Bicknell should have had more test caps. This had been totally at odds with his previous anti-Surrey statements and I thought that this inconsistency might be the root cause of the problem."
As treatment continued Dr. Hogg became more and more convinced that Surrey's terrible season had provoked certain sympathy in the man's otherwise rigid belief system thus triggering a mixture of confusion, self hatred and anger in his patient.
"I put it to him that he was feeling sorry for Surrey and he broke down instantly," said Dr. Hogg "it was the breakthrough that we had been working towards. Once he could admit it to himself we were able to offer effective treatment."
In clinics all over the country medical staff are having to deal with this new phenomenon which has become known as 'Tudor-Akhtar Syndrome' with the traditional anti-Surrey areas in the north being the most badly affected.
|Caught on camera: this unsuspecting Durham supporter develops 'Tudor-Akhtar Syndrome' instantly as he is told that Surrey skipper Mark Butcher has not given up on the idea of playing for England again.|
Dr. Hogg feels that more resources need to be put into research and treatment of this condition: "It's a brand new phenomenon and very little is known about it. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the recent signings of Alex Tudor and Shoaib Akhtar elicited genuine sympathy for Surrey amongst cricket followers who 2 or 3 years ago would have taken great pleasure in such events. As a result of this these people are completely unprepared mentally for the shock this creates in their brains. In seconds this can overturn thirty or forty years of concrete thinking and unreconstructured hatred. If things at the Oval don't improve next season then we might be looking at an epidemic. It would just take another couple of disastrous signings - a Dominic Cork or an Inzamam - and the NHS won't be able to cope."
Meanwhile back in Leeds the original patient of Dr. Hogg is living at home and slowly getting his life back together. "I saw him for an out-patients' appointment yesterday and asked him how he felt about Surrey being docked points for a slow over rate caused by their super new signings - Akhtar and Tudor. He was able to laugh and sneer normally again and called Scott Newman a name that made our receptionist blush. I knew then that we had saved him."
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article or think you might have Tudor-Akhtar Syndrome then please don't worry. Just enjoy it.