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The ‘creative confusion’ of the near to completion PhD student (part 3)

I have a PhD to do list which now has six items remaining on it. When these six items, unlikely to take over seven or eight hours, are completed then I no longer have any excuse for keeping hold of my PhD/Green Ball panda

My supervisor is then going to have a final read through, as will a proof reader. I’ll then respond to their suggestions before handing in the PhD next week (or perhaps the following week if my supervisor doesn’t read it as unfeasibly quickly as I’m secretly hoping she will).

This is the last of this slightly self-indulgent series of posts. I think they have raised a serious question though: why do some people feel such an attachment to their thesis at this stage? I’ve wanted it to be over for ages and yet I’m now procrastinating like wild trying to string out these last few days. It’s not anxiety about the future (I’m employed in two roles I enjoy and I’ve got other writing projects I’m looking forward to) so what is it? Has anyone ever attempted to explore the experience of doing a PhD in psychoanalytical terms? I’m sure they must have and I’d love to read it. Though not until next week.

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Mark

3 replies

  1. Mark, it’s definitely an emotional thing. I remember spending the last two weekends finishing the conclusion and sorting out the layout etc… I felt quite elated but on the day I submitted I suddenly felt very tired. And then very quickly I felt an emptiness. I could no longer said I was doing my PhD because I had finished it. And although I could return to being a lecturer that didn’t have the same resonance for my identity. Doing a phD I think gives you some sort of cachet, everybody knows what it means (a lot of work and determination!) and people are impressed, but then when it’s done, you lose this source of distinctiveness and easy way of identifying yourself to others. It took me about 3-4 months to get over it! In the end, it had never felt like a burden to me, simply a great source of pride and comfort too. It was hard to let go. Perhaps that’s why you won’t release that ball! Good luck :o)

  2. Thanks! 🙂 I think the opposite might be true for me, as the extent to which it has dragged out (I write in year 6 of part-time) has made it an identity I feel confined by and want to leave in the past. Though perhaps it’s also comforting for the reasons you suggest. In the video that GIF is from the panda entirely loses interest in the ball when presented with bamboo but when the researchers try and remove the ball, it suddenly becomes something which could not and should not be surrendered….

  3. I’d love to read biographical research into the variable affectivity of the PhD process – this issue of attachment, investment and reluctance has really started to interest me.

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