Should delusion ever be accepted?

For the past few days, I’ve been semi-obsessed with the tragic story of Greg Plitt, who was killed by an oncoming commuter train Saturday. Greg was a successful fitness model, personal trainer, and motivational speaker. He was filming a video for one of his fitness products when the train struck him.

Why was he filming on train tracks — something that is both dangerous and illegal? According to anyone who knew him, he was an adrenaline junkie who loved to take these kinds of risks. In fact, this wasn’t the first time Greg filmed one of his videos on train tracks. According to the Los Angeles Times, he often compared himself to Superman, sometimes going so far as to “act like Superman.” As anyone who ever watched the Man of Steel knows, Superman was “more powerful than a locomotive.”

It’s predictable that social media is filled with judgment and condemnation. How could he be so stupid? All muscles, no brains. And those are some of the kinder remarks. I’m not judging Greg. From what I’ve seen, he seemed like a kind, dedicated, and caring man who really loved helping people with their fitness goals.

But I do wonder about this: whenever he “acted” like Superman, was there anyone around him who was bold enough to say, “No, you’re not Superman.”? I’m guessing that didn’t happen. I’m guessing that most people were won over Greg’s charisma, his “anything is possible” mantra — and yes, his rock-hard abs and Hollywood-handsome face. (I will admit that as a gay man, I can definitely see the appeal there.)

But here’s the thing: “anything” is NOT possible. Not when it isn’t realistic. Greg was human, and humans are no match for locomotives. That’s why it’s illegal to do just about anything on train tracks other than ride a train. And he was not Superman. In this case, Greg was delusional. And delusion — even when it comes in a handsome, muscular package — can lead to tragedy.

As someone with depression and anxiety, I’m fascinated by what kinds of “crazy” society accepts, and what kinds that it doesn’t. Something tells me that if Greg was not fit and handsome, people would have reacted differently to his Superman obsession. But that was just too easy to overlook.

Greg paid a horrible price for this delusion. But maybe his death will be a wake-up call, and make people realize that delusion — in any form — is toxic and unhealthy. Greg was someone who seemed to get a lot of joy out of motivating people. Something tells me he would approve of this lesson.

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2 responses to “Should delusion ever be accepted?

  • Rick Solis

    I am a member of Greg Plitt’s web site and have been a huge fan of his for years. Although I never met Greg I feel I was very close to knowing his spirit,his inner psychology . As a member I have access to his video blog archive and there are several videos that tell a tale of a highly emotional man that did suffer from depression in fact in one of his videos he admits to attempting suicide. Putting together the evidence of the seen of his death and his past state of mind I believe he suffered from “Manic depression” and he was in the manic phase of delusion when he was struck by the train so I believe it was suicide. I made a video about it and have had some very emotional and negative responses which is also very interesting indeed. People tend to think of suicide as a cowardly act and the ultimate form of quitting they simply do not correlate it with being Ill or part of a disease. There is also a religious dogma attached to suicide and also a legal implication of “self murder”. however I think philosophically It could be said that Greg had a problem and he created a “psychological drug” and that attracted many others to get hooked. And I think it is that drug addiction; albeit (psychological) that many people are defending.

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    • Alan Kravitz

      Thanks so much for your very well thought-out comment here, Rick. I did not know for sure if Greg had been diagnosed. I know that with manic depression, it’s the mania that often causes the most trouble for people who have this. Even if you never met Greg, you probably felt as though you knew him, and I am sorry for your loss.

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