Two further academic syndromes

In the spirit of academic Stockholm syndrome, I propose that the following be recognized as afflictions of academics in the next version of the DSM:

  • Having All Day Syndrome: It will sometimes happen that one’s only obligation on a given day is a relatively small task or group of tasks that could easily be fulfilled in a short amount of time. Inevitably, the fact that the time available dramatically outweighs the time needed will lead one to put off the task all day, leading to a mad dash to finish in the late evening.
  • Article That Writes Itself Syndrome: One occasionally has an idea for a piece of writing that seems so inspired or so simple that it seems possible to begin writing immediately. Yet in reality, one needs to do some kind of legwork (reviewing sources, etc.) before one can really begin. The end result is that one neither writes nor does the legwork, instead opting to sit and stare at a blank page and/or engage in worthless procrastination, berating oneself for not writing.
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12 Responses to “Two further academic syndromes”

  1. Thomas J Bridges Says:

    If it can be modified to “Having All Semester Syndrome,” we have a diagnosis for me and my exam reading.

  2. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Along those lines, “Having All Summer Syndrome” may be the most fearsome syndrome of all.

  3. queenemily Says:

    I Just Need These Thirty Books Before I Start Syndrome?

  4. Kampen Says:

    Having all day syndrome is worsens with the realization that one has the syndrome and then proceeds to e-mail AUFS their (already late night) academic confession (instead of hopping right to the task).

  5. ben Says:

    The first syndrome and its modifications in the first two comments are still too specific, attempting to quarantine the syndrome to a definable unit that can (one allows oneself to think) be mastered, perhaps with external technological aids, perhaps merely with greater self-control. In this respect they are fantasies, attempts to elude a deep truth about human nature. The quasi-physical joke, “work expands to fill the time available”, is closer to the mark, if only because it is not formulated as “work expands to fill the day, if it can be done in less than a day and a day is allotted”. It is not having all day, all semester, or all summer syndrome; it is having time syndrome—or most accurately, not-wanting-to-have-time syndrome. Work doesn’t expand of its own—we make it expand so as to keep ourselves distracted.

  6. ben Says:

    There’s also the phenomenon captured in the following line of thought: “I just had a thought—so even though I haven’t written it down, I can do something else first.” Of course when one goes to write it down it turns out to be more complicated than it seemed.

  7. Mikhail Emelianov Says:

    How about my favorite “I Have To Write Down and Publish Every Single More or Less Interesting Thought That I Have Ever Had” syndrome?

  8. Brad Johnson Says:

    Mikhail’s proposed syndrome is either cured or intensified by having a blog.

  9. Mikhail Emelianov Says:

    Oh it’s definitely intensified. I’m sure if one really does think every thought that one has is gold, it’s not so bad, but for the rest of the mortal people like myself blogging eliminates the usual pause during which one slowly but surely realizes that what seems like a brilliant idea today is not really that brilliant tomorrow when you had a chance to think it over…

  10. ben Says:

    blogging eliminates the usual pause during which one slowly but surely realizes that what seems like a brilliant idea today is not really that brilliant tomorrow when you had a chance to think it over…

    I am occasionally worried about things like this, but I like to think that I have inoculated myself against too much criticism with my blog’s motto (and, in another way, by hardly ever posting).

  11. Mikhail Emelianov Says:

    I’ve inoculated myself against the problem by hardly ever thinking…


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