Two years after I graduated with a PhD in sociology from Indiana University, I started seeing a therapist again. At my in-take visit, my therapist invited me to return within a week. “Right now, you’re full,” he said, commenting on the numerous issues that I brought up in explaining why I was seeing a therapist. He did not mean “full of shit,” as in offering lies or irrelevant information; rather, he meant that I was “filled to the brim” of issues weighing on my heart, mind, and spirit. This was not news to me, but hearing him say “full” emphasized the importance of finally seeking professional help after a few years of distress and unhappiness.
During my second appointment with the therapist, I offered a more focused assessment of my troubles. After two years as a tenure-track professor at the University of Richmond, I found it difficult to fully appreciate my job because past demons of grad school continued to haunt me. I remained fearful – perhaps even bordering on paranoia – that a student, colleague, administrator, alum, or member of the local community would take issue with my politics and demand that I be fired. I continued to obsess over what I wear, wrestling with concerns of conformity, comfort, safety, and authenticity. And, I occasionally had flashes of negative experiences during my six years in grad school, and regularly heard the voices of my grad school advisors when I made decisions about my future. Admittedly, though those difficult years were in the past, their impact on me continues today.
Copyright © 2018 Routledge. This book chapter first appeared in Negotiating the Emotional Challenges of Conducting Deeply Personal Research in Health, by A. C. H. Nowakowski and J. E. Sumerau, 159-171. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2018.
The definitive version is available at: CRC Press
Grollman, Eric Anthony. "Black, Queer, and Beaten: On the Trauma of Graduate School." In In Negotiating the Emotional Challenges of Conducting Deeply Personal Research in Health, edited by A. C. H. Nowakowski and J. E. Sumerau, 159-171. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2018.
Grollman, Eric Anthony, "Black, Queer, and Beaten: On the Trauma of Graduate School" (2018). Sociology and Anthropology Faculty Publications. 61.