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Elsewhere on LJ, I came across this interesting but possibly trite… - Sally's Journal
January 21st, 2008
11:22 am

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Elsewhere on LJ, I came across this interesting but possibly trite and over-simplified idea

"Depression is anger turned inward, against the self, when it ought to be directed outward at the correct target/s. Anger is a useful emotion when it helps you survive psychologically and helps you retain your sense of wholeness against illegitimate onslaught. But it has to be acted upon sometimes as well as merely felt."

I wonder if it is true?

The post where I found that comment also left me amazed by the number of people on LJ with tragic failing-to-get PhDs stories. Maybe it is because we were all on LJ, and so posting to LJ instead of doing our PhD, and we're a completely unrepresentative sample, but hey, I've never let that stop me doing a poll before.

PhDs

I have started a PhD
2(3.3%)
...and lasted 1 year
0(0.0%)
...and lasted 3 years
0(0.0%)
...and actually spent significantly more than 3 years on it
0(0.0%)
I have had a first viva
0(0.0%)
I passed with minors or less at the first viva
0(0.0%)
I got major corrections
0(0.0%)
I have had a second viva
0(0.0%)
I passed at the second viva
0(0.0%)
I failed the second viva
0(0.0%)
I got a PhD at the end of all this
0(0.0%)
I got a masters at the end of all this
3(4.9%)
I got a certificate of postgraduate studies at the end of all this
0(0.0%)
I didn't get anything at the end of this
0(0.0%)
What do you mean, the _end_ of this?
0(0.0%)

Some more options...

My sad story does not fit in your tickyboxes
10(13.0%)
My happy story does not fit in your tickyboxes
6(7.8%)
I have never started a PhD
39(50.6%)

(113 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
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From:phlebas
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:31 am (UTC)
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I did a MSc in the hope it'd get me funding for a DPhil. It didn't, though.
[User Picture]
From:wellinghall
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:33 am (UTC)
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I have completed a professional qualification, broadly equivalent to a PhD. The sad bit is that it ate five years of my life; the happy bit is that I qualified at all (which only 40% of entrants do), and in less time than the average (6 - 8 years).
[User Picture]
From:atreic
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:52 am (UTC)
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Err, I don't want to try and dick-size (after all, I am neither a qualified actuary nor the proud holder of a PhD) but I don't think they're at all equivalent. Except in the way that two A-levels are equivalent to one GNVQ (ie, they test very different things in very different ways, but we want to draw arbitrary lines to equate people at similar stages of their life/career)
[User Picture]
From:arnhem
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:34 am (UTC)
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It's probable that my answer(s) give entirely the wrong impression; but I think they're entirely accurate.
[User Picture]
From:atreic
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:48 am (UTC)
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But but but... there are all these comment boxes! You could just tell your story to the world!
[User Picture]
From:badasstronaut
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:46 am (UTC)
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I started mine in.... oooh... 1992. A year and a half later I got a full time job with accompanying salary. I intended to finish the PhD on the side, sort of like a hobby. Sadly it died. I didn't get anything out of it in terms of credentials, but it's probably not entirely true to say I got nothing at all. I got experience in research, writing and in understanding academic processes and systems.
[User Picture]
From:atreic
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:48 am (UTC)
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That's quite similar to me, in that after I was thrown off the PhD I was told I could write it up for a Masters, and then, err, just didn't, because I got busy with Job and Life and Stuff.

Or of course because I was scared I would fail and it was easier not to do it.

Edited at 2008-01-21 11:48 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:woodpijn
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:49 am (UTC)
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From outside observation, depressed people don't seem angry with themselves. They seem very down and unable to get excited about anything. "Anger" sounds like far too active and passionate a description. If it is anger it must be a very cold kind of anger.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:randomchris
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:51 am (UTC)
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I don't see a "I'm still doing it" option - currently halfway through my second part-time year.
[User Picture]
From:atreic
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:53 am (UTC)
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That was the "what do you mean, the _end_ of all this?" box. Maybe in future I should try harder to be clear and less hard to be funny ;-)
[User Picture]
From:simont
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:51 am (UTC)
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FWIW, the reason I never attempted a PhD had nothing to do with any of this. The thing that really put me off doing a PhD was one of my summer jobs, which was basically R&D in speech compression. That left me with the strong impression that research is something for which I'm not temperamentally suited: I do better with solid engineering from basically known principles. Give me a problem whose theoretical basis is well understood to be tractable but whose implementation is complex and fraught with practicality, reliability, testability and maintainability issues, and I'm happy. Give me something where I have to spend months or years and it's unclear whether there'll even be a satisfactory answer at the end of the job, and I lose motivation.

(Admittedly, the job in question was also marred by the minor detail that I knew nothing about speech compression when I started and was expected to learn enough to design a previously nonexistent type of codec in 10 weeks. And I rapidly developed a strong dislike for my boss. But I came out of it with one or two amusing anecdotes, and had the petty satisfaction of writing up everything I'd done in completely impenetrable maths and leaving it on his desk "for him to carry on from where I left off" at the end of the summer, and of course I got paid.)

Accordingly, I went straight into a programming job at the end of my degree+DipCS, without considering a PhD for more than an hour or two. My dad was a bit disappointed (he did a PhD and I think he'd rather hoped I would too, but then he also hoped I'd follow him into theoretical physics and that was even more not my bag) but I was pretty sure I was making the right decision.
[User Picture]
From:pm215
Date:January 21st, 2008 12:26 pm (UTC)
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Yes, absolutely. I think that to do a PhD you have to actually be interested in original research, and I decided that I wasn't, fundamentally. I like making computers do interesting things; I like meaty technical problems; but originality as such isn't really very exciting. Also, you can get much more interesting things done out here in the real world where you have a team of other (hopefully equally intelligent) people to work with, rather than sitting there doing your original research on your own...
[User Picture]
From:cartesiandaemon
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:58 am (UTC)
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"I'm going to start any year now." Well, ok, maybe not :)
From:stephdairy
Date:January 21st, 2008 11:59 am (UTC)
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The description of depression doesn't match my experiences. Anger requires much more energy than depression seems to afford me.

(S)
[User Picture]
From:aldabra
Date:January 21st, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
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I'm in a loop I totally recognise at the moment, where after being depressed for several months I spend several weeks on an upswing and then get hit by an overwhelming wave of anger. I got the PhD anger, which left me shaky, and *that same evening* I got a similarly strong wave of anger at the hospital where Kathy was born. [There's divorce-circumstances anger which I usually get at this stage of the cycle too, but I think it's subsided to the extent that the other two can take back over.] I don't think it's coincidental that I accidentally spent today asleep, and I think I may be at significant danger of tipping back into depression now because I've got Too Much Anger and it's exhausting.

It's not that I'm angry with myself. It's that I'm justifiably angry at the world and there's nothing constructive I can do about it. I think containing the anger may be significant in my depression, and I think that may be what is meant by turning anger inwards.
[User Picture]
From:filecoreinuse
Date:January 21st, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
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"Depression is anger turned inward, against the self, when it ought to be directed outward at the correct target/s. Anger is a useful emotion when it helps you survive psychologically and helps you retain your sense of wholeness against illegitimate onslaught. But it has to be acted upon sometimes as well as merely felt."

Not sure I completely agree with that. Anger at oneself is certainly a part but the major feature of depression for me was a complete lack of any emotion with brief periods of complete disappointment in myself.

[User Picture]
From:emperor
Date:January 21st, 2008 12:00 pm (UTC)
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[x] AND I'M STILL BITTER, DAMMIT!

*hugs*
[User Picture]
From:atreic
Date:January 21st, 2008 12:02 pm (UTC)
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You're cute when you're bitter :-)

*hugs*
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:atreic
Date:January 21st, 2008 12:04 pm (UTC)
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I wonder if this is reporting bias? Women talk about where they went wrong and want to cry and be supported, whereas men just cover it up and pretend that what they are doing is The Plan. Of course, that previous sentance is even more sexist crap than the sexist crap* that maybe the system favours men, so please ignore it.
(Deleted comment)
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From:lnr
Date:January 21st, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC)
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I did an MSc in computing (part-time), passed the taught course bit with good marks, and never got as far as even starting the dissertation due to depression. Eventually I ran out of time and they gave me a postgrad diploma in it instead. I *think* it was a diploma, which ever is the higher of certificate and diploma anyway.
[User Picture]
From:lnr
Date:January 21st, 2008 12:07 pm (UTC)
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I note that 6 of you "passed with minors or less at the first viva" and only 4 of you "got a PhD at the end of all this" - are the other 2 just waiting for the degree to be awarded?
[User Picture]
From:half_of_monty
Date:January 21st, 2008 12:10 pm (UTC)
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One of those is probably me. I will pretend that I wasn't being vacant and in fact making a subtle point about not having graduated.
[User Picture]
From:catyak
Date:January 21st, 2008 12:09 pm (UTC)
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I got my Masters degree and decided I was fed up with academia so I went out and got a job instead (and more money). I'm probably not research-oriented because my note-taking ability is crap and I'd probably fail to record the one important thing that I needed to.

D
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