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This biographical sketch will explore Mike Tyson’s life of victories, personal, and professional losses. Mike Tyson, born Michael Gerard Tyson, was born June 30, 1966, in Brooklyn, New York to Jimmy Kirkpatrick and Lorna Tyson. Jimmy abandoned the family in 1968, when Mike was two years old, leaving Lorna to care for Mike and his two siblings, Rodney and Denise. My selection of Mike Tyson for a case study was based a several intriguing factors about him that gained my attention. Any documentary and/or interview that I’ve viewed on Mike Tyson, I initially look into his eyes.

The eyes are the window to our souls, and his eyes share the pains he’s suffered in his life. Over the past 27 years, Mike Tyson has been described as erratic, volatile, and somewhat unstable. His mother, Lorna was an alcoholic and died from cancer when he was only 16 and his sister, Denise died of a heart attack due to obesity in 1991 at the age of 25, little is known about his father, Jimmy.

The oldest sibling Rodney is a physician assistant in the trauma center of a Los Angeles hospital.

As a boy Tyson became a pickpocket on public buses, rolled drunks and mugged old ladies of their purses. By the time he was 13, he had been arrested 38 times. Tyson lived in and around high crime neighborhood throughout his pre-teen and adolescent years. His very first fight was with a neighborhood youth that was larger than him, who had removed the head of one of Tyson’s pigeons.

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Mike was transferred to a reform school for boys in Johnstown, New York, where he met a counselor named Bob Stewart, who was also a former amateur boxing champion. Stewart trained Mike on how to use his fist to fight; Mike was so determined to learn everything about boxing. He would often sneak out of bed after curfew to practice throwing punches in the dark. In 1980, Mike was introduced to the late legendary boxing manager, Cus D’Amato. D’Amato provided room and board for Mike, and developed a close relationship with him. Mike looked to D’Amato as his mentor and as a father. Tyson was classified as learning disabled because he could only read at the level of a seventh grader while in high school. After the death of his mother, he was expelled from Catskill High School and continued schooling through private tutors as he prepared for the 1984 Olympic trials.

Developmental Psychology is defined as the study of physical and cognitive changes from birth until death. (M.U.S.E., 2010) Physical changes are measured by height, weight, and strengths during the different stages of your life; beginning with conception through childhood, and adolescence through adulthood and eventually death. (M.U.S.E., 2010) Motivation is defined as forces determining behavior; the biological, emotional, cognitive, or social forces that activate and direct behavior. (Encarta, 2012) There are several theories stating various opinions on motivation, the most popular being Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It argues that we as individuals are motivated to satisfy a specific need, when we have a sense of belonging we are motivated by a desire to be held in esteem. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are as follows: self-actualization (doing your own best thing), esteem (need to be recognized, self-respect, and respect of others), belonging (being accepted, becoming a part of something), safety (psychological, physical, secure), physiological (sex, hunger, rest). (Goal, 2013)

Personality is defined as the totality of somebody’s attitudes, interests, behavioral patterns, emotional responses, social roles, and other individual traits that endure over long periods of time. During an independent medical evaluation performed in September 1998 for the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Tyson gave a history of repeated head injuries as a child. The injuries included multiple episodes of loss of consciousness as a result of being struck with various objects during street fights. During this evaluation process, Tyson was also questioned about symptoms of depression. After eight visits with a psychiatrist, Tyson was diagnosed with “dysthymic disorder” (chronic depression) and issues related to his personality by Dr. Richard Goldberg, MD, prior to the independent medical evaluation.

It’s difficult to assess when this disorder began, before the evaluation took place, Tyson’s boxing license was suspended for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear during a boxing match. Dysthymic disorder is a type of chronic depression when a person’s moods are regularly low. The symptoms are not as severe as with other major depression disorders. The main symptom of this disorder is a low, dark, or sad mood on most days for a period of two years. Dysthymic disorders increase the risk of suicide. Some patients recover completely, while others continue to display the symptoms, even with treatment. (Fava, 2008)

Psychology in the workplace helps employees and enterprises to achieve truly sustainable growth in workplace performance. Porath, MacInnis, & Folkes (2010) found that when an employee mistreated or was uncivil (e.g., being rude or discourteous, ignoring or making derogatory remarks, passing blame for their own mistakes, belittling the efforts of others, etc.) toward another employee, customers who witnessed it tended to “make negative generalizations about (a) others who work for the firm, (b) the firm as a whole, and (c) future encounters with the firm, inferences that [went] well beyond the incivility incident” (p. 292). What researchers discovered was that “consumers [were] also negatively affected even when they [were] mere observers of incivility between employees” (Porath et al., 2010, p. 301).

A survey of public sector employees in the United States found that 71% of respondents reported at least some experience of workplace incivility from a supervisor or coworker (e.g., being treated rudely or discourteously, having a coworker or boss ignore or make derogatory remarks, being blamed for a colleague’s mistakes, being belittled, having someone set them up to fail, being shut out of a team, etc.) during the previous 5 years, and 6% reported experiencing such behavior many times (Cortina, Magley, Williams, & Langhout, 2001). Lim, Cortina, and Magley (2008) found that (1) “uncivil work experiences also appear to have a direct negative influence on mental health” (p. 104), (2) employees who experienced incivility were more likely to be dissatisfied with their boss and coworkers than with the job itself, and (3) those personal experiences of workplace incivility can lead to them eventually quitting their jobs.


  1. M.U.S.E., “Conception through childhood and Adulthood” (2010)
  2. Mike Tyson. (2012).
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    Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008
  4. Holmes, Leonard. (2006) Mike Tyson’s Assessment. Retrieved from Mental Health
  5. Cortina, L. M., Magley, V. J., Williams, J. H., & Langhout, R. D. (2001). Incivility in the workplace: Incidence and impact. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 6(1), 64-80.
  6. Lim, S., Cortina, L. M., Magley, V. J. (2008). Personal and workgroup incivility: Impact on work and health outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(1), 95-107. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.93.1.95
  7. Pearson, C. & Porath, C. (2009). The cost of bad behavior: How incivility is damaging your business and what to do about it. New York, NY: Portfolio.
  8. Porath, C., MacInnis, D., & Folkes, V. (2010). Witnessing incivility among employees: Effects on consumer anger and negative inferences about companies. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(2), 292-303.

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Mike Tyson. (2017, Feb 01). Retrieved from

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