Free Essay on the Motorcycle Syndrome: The Fatal Mental Ride

Published: 2019-05-23
Free Essay on the Motorcycle Syndrome: The Fatal Mental Ride
Categories:  Psychology Social psychology Mental health
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 886 words
8 min read

Locus of control can be defined as the degree to which people control their actions based on their surroundings and personal beliefs (Lefcourt). People with a strong internal locus of control believe that events in their lives stem from their actions, while people with a strong external focus blame the environment around them for their actions (Rotter). Internal locus of control is characterized by high self-esteem, organization and responsibility, while external locus of control is characterized by emotional instability and irresponsible behavior. This paper focuses on an article that establishes Motorcycle Syndrome as a cause for the rise in accidents involving motorcycles. The main purpose of this paper is to establish a cause and effect relationship between Motorcycle Syndrome and the role played by individuals locus of control (Sternhell).

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The escalation of injuries related to motorcycling led to the need to conduct a survey to establish the main cause. For a long time, focus had been put on the physical state of the vehicles causing accidents, until Dr. Armand M. Nicholi came up with a report linking psychological factors to causes of accidents. His theory was based upon research whereby he noticed an unusual emotional investment in motorcycles among some of his patients. Further research indicated that the people who had this unusual syndrome portrayed similar characteristics of extreme passivity, defiance, radicalization, accident proneness and experienced a detached father-child relationship in the past. Dr. Armand specified that not all people who get involved in the accident have the syndrome.

Patients who suffer from Motorcycle Syndrome use objects to feel in control, which is a manifestation of external locus of control. In this case, the object of fixation is the motorcycle. The motorcycle is used to cover deeper issues they face, while at the same time offering a thrill of something they are afraid of. According to the article, such people use alcohol, sleep, drugs and the television to escape reality. They constantly feel they lack control of their lives, therefore find means to gain control through other objects, hence the unusual attachment to motorcycles.

People with this syndrome also suffer from poor impulse control. Some deal with impulse control by over-expression or over-suppression of their emotions. By being unable to deal with their emotions internally, they find reason to vent externally via aggression, anger, and resentment. Those who suppress their emotions show signs like withdrawal, depression and loss of self-esteem. In this case, internal locus of control becomes a negative influence on the individual.

In addition to a low self-esteem, people with Motorcycle Syndrome also battle with having emotional voids. They experience feelings of ugliness and insufficiency. Some of the men turn to promiscuity for the sake of looking for a physically and emotionally fulfilling relationship. Such people are unable to accept the problem stems from within, and end up projecting their insecurities to people in relationships they form. This behavior is a manifestation of an external locus of control.

Dr. Nicholi states that one of the characteristics that describes people with Motorcycle Syndrome was a detached childhood relationship with their fathers. People with father issues tend to be mistrusting and highly guarded. They fear intimacy for the reason of getting abandoned. In my personal experience, I have portrayed signs of having an external locus of control in the relationships I form. I struggled with gaining peoples trust and only recently found out that my distrust came from my background, which was characterized by an absentee father. Before recognizing the issue as internal, I blamed the environment around me as the cause of my avoidance nature. I felt that nobody was good enough to understand me as a person, when the main reason was that I feared getting close to people then losing them like I did with my father.

Patients who suffer from Motorcycle Syndrome are a safety hazard to the public. Therefore measures used to deal with their issues should be safety- ensured. First and foremost, the major challenge faced would be detecting people with Motorcycle Syndrome, or any other psychological issues. States should introduce a system in which drivers are tested for both physical and psychological competence. Those who are found with issues should go for therapy until proven psychologically competent. Early detection creates a safety prevention mechanism in which people with psychological issues are kept from roads.

Those with poor impulse control can find alternative means to vent for example by attending therapy or getting involved in indoor activities. The best way to solve this problem is by trying hard to keep the affected people from putting others in harms way to avoid accidents.

As seen in the excerpt accidents do not constitute of mechanical issues only. It is important for psychologists to work with governing bodies to create an awareness of the prevalence of accidents stemming from psychological issues. Awareness can also be created to encourage people with self-esteem issues to seek counselling. I opted to take a few sessions myself to deal with my external locus of control that influenced my ability to make friends.


Lefcourt, H.M. Locus of Control: Curent Trends in Theory and Research. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000. print.

Rotter, J. B. Social Learning and Clinical Psychology. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 2005. print.

Sternhell, Carol. R. The Havard Crimson. 13 October 1970. website. 8 July 2015.

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