Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Drama of the Gifted Scholar

It's been a loooooong time since I've posted so I thought it would be good to return to the blog a bit. I am now comfortably settled into my alt-ac job (more on that later) and rereading my posts see how things DID get better and how there IS life after higher education--a very rich and satisfying life, I might add. Certainly a much saner life, anyway. I have a new interest in psychology (perhaps based on untangling all the mind-f*%king that we called grad school) and came across the following passage in Alice Miller's The Drama of the Gifted Child. I think it speaks for itself. Especially the third paragraph:
Then there are the people who can be very friendly, perhaps a shade patronizing, but in whose presence one feels as if one were nothing. They convey the feeling that they are the only ones who exist, the only ones who have anything interesting or relevant to say. The others can only stand there and admire them in fascination, or turn away in disappointment and sorrow about their own lack of worth, unable to express themselves in these persons' presence. These people might be the children of grandiose parents, with whom these children had no hope of rivalry, and so later, as adults, they unconsciously pass on this atmosphere to those around them. Now those people who, as children, were intellectually far beyond their parents and therefore admired by them, but so also had to solve their own problems alone, will give us quite a different impression. These people will give us a feeling of their intellectual strength and will power, and they also seem to demand that we, too, ought to fight off any feeling of weakness with intellectual means. In their presence one feels one can't be recognized as a person with problems—just as they and their problems had not been recognized by their parents, for whom they always had to be strong. Keeping these examples in mind, it is easy to see why some professors, who are quite capable of expressing themselves clearly, will use such complicated and convoluted language when they present their ideas that the students can only acquire them in a fog of anger and diligence—without being able to make much use of them. These students then may well have the same sorts of feelings that their teacher once had and was forced to suppress in relation to his parents. If the students themselves become teachers one day, they will have the opportunity of handing on this unusable knowledge, like a pearl of great price (because it had cost them so much).

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