In the latest issue of Mental Health Monthly magazine, sources close to country superstar Kenny Chesney speak out for the first time about the singer’s long battle with a mysterious psychological condition: a debilitating fear of being attacked from the left side, with which Chesney has quietly struggled for his entire singing career.
According to psychotherapist Dr. Doug Jefferson, this explains the singer’s tendency to whip his head to the left as he finishes delivering each line at the microphone – a tic that becomes especially pronounced during up-tempo songs, as his heart races and ambushes from a thousand Steven Seagal films play out in his head.
“If you really want to understand Kenny,” says Dr. Jefferson, “you had to understand that, in his mind, he’s always a hair’s breadth away from an unexpected roundhouse kick or large metal pipe to the face followed by an elaborate Jackie Chan-style fight sequence. It’s why he runs around so much on stage, too.”
Like most people learning to live with mental issues, Chesney has tried a variety of coping mechanisms over the years. Early in his career, his contract stipulated that the entire audience always be situated to the far left of the stage, such that he might more easily detect any potential assailants coming from that side of the stage. More recently, he has taken to inviting burly NFL friends to watch his arena shows from the wings so long as they remain positioned just out of sight at stage left.
“One time I started heading for the backstage bathroom during ‘Never Wanted Nothing More’ and Chesney’s tour manager flipped out on me, screaming about how that’s not what I was ‘there for’ and if I DID go to the bathroom, Kenny’s blood would be on MY hands,” says friend Peyton Manning. “Up until then, I thought I was just at the show to hang out. When I asked Kenny about it later, he started crying. I didn’t bring it up again.”
Also in the Mental Health Monthly article, a friend of Renée Zellweger suggests Kenny’s condition may have had something to do with the couple’s 2005 annulment: “Things just weren’t the same between them after she went in for a hug suddenly from the left side and got thrown clear.”
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