Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ophelia Syndrome

I just realized something about this reading. I think I am paradoxically the most and least prone to this syndrome. Least because I have a long educational history of seeking after learning in different places and being invested in my learning experience, and I have practiced examining problems from different points of view for a long time too. Most, however, because I read and read and read and don't keep up with this learning journal assignment (or other writing assignments) precisely because I don't trust (have confidence in) myself and my own thoughts.
I keep going back to the experts in the books because it's much easier and more interesting for me to be reading than writing. I mean honestly what am I going to write that's worthwhile for others to read? Really. But as Plummer states, experts disagree often too (I don't know about his quantification "more often than they agree," but certainly it's a lot). I'm well aware of this and of the ephemeral nature of "newly discovered" knowledge, but I think I let the uncertainty get under my skin too much. His advice is to "learn to live with the uncertainty"-- I'm not sure how to take that next step.

I could also argue that I have vanquished the Ophelia Syndrome by following his suggestion to make learning more important than the grade, particularly in my field studies preparation class. And I know I have worked ridiculously hard for the knowledge I've gained this semester. But I will have to put his admonition to trust myself to better use before I can believe that I've done well enough. And I will have to learn to live with uncertainty, rather than being too frustrated by the contradictions I see all around me and in my own actions and self-perception.

Source: Plummer, Thomas G. "Diagnosing and Treating the Ophelia Syndrome." BYU Magazine, January 1991.
(available here)

Summary of my progress in the 6 suggestions made by Plummer:
1-Seek Out and Learn From Great Teachers, Regardless of What They Teach. check.
2-Dare To Know and Trust Yourself. got the introspective part down, just not the confidence.
3-Learn to Live With Uncertainty. awareness of uncertainty, check. acceptance, not so much.
4-Practice Thinking from Different Points of View. check.
5-Foster Idle Thinking. hm... maybe one day.
6-Plan to Step Out of Bounds. check. going to Ecuador counts right?


  1. I feel like part of it is not necessarily breaking away from experts and all that, but in how you pursue the experts.

    I mean, I feel like it is all about not just letting teachers tell you what to think and where to look. If you are doing your own reading and stuff, even if it is other people's thoughts, the fact that you are independently looking for other people's thoughts is important, rather than just letting other people tell you which other people's thoughts to pursue.

  2. I think you're right, that makes sense. I want to be better at reacting to what I read as well, asking questions and forming my own thoughts about them. I'm getting there though.

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