Psycho Analytics marks one-year anniversary
In news that will surely comfort unemployed philosophers everywhere, the mounting stresses of the job market have led to a breakout first year at Psycho Analytics, LLC, a Los Angeles clinic catering to distressed philosophers. Since its founding in August 2011, the clinic has doubled in size to four practitioners and developed a reputation for a nuanced understanding of the world of professional philosophy.
“The clinic may be new,” explains co-founder Samantha Greer, “but I do what I’ve always done: help people deal with insecurity and peer rejection. Except now it’s more about job insecurity and peer-reviewer rejection.”
Not surprisingly, the stressful conditions of academic philosophy can lead to a range of mental and physical problems. Intriguingly, the problems are often unique to the modern academic. “Take premature e-publication,” Greer suggests. “I’d never even heard of it before a few years ago.” She’s talking about the posting of half-baked papers online, where they can damage the author’s reputation or job prospects. Premature e-publication is one of the most embarrassing problems an academic can face. The young, the inexperienced, and the easily excitable are especially prone to this type of premature release. “There’s nothing wrong with self-publishing,” Greer says. “Everyone does it. But we try to help philosophers control the urge to do it at inappropriate times.”
“Not to be confused with nocturnal submission,” Greer continues, referencing the late-night submission of papers, either to journals or professors. “Is this paper ready to submit? Does that paragraph make sense? Your best decisions are not usually made when sleep deprived, drunk, or otherwise adversely affected by the late hour.” The condition is especially common among those for whom job stress means insomnia or a nightcap to calm the nerves.
But premature e-publication and nocturnal submission are just the tip of the iceberg. “We see it all,” says Greer. “Weight gain, weight loss, headache, Blockhead, I could go on.” Intrigued, I ask her to do just that. “Irritability, excessive demandingness, anxiety, fear and trembling, confusion. And then the immune system gets run down and we see frequent colds, the flu, conjunctivitis, disjunctivitis – not to mention the side of effects of the medications we prescribe.” Greer pauses to take a large breath. “We’re talking about digestive problems, halting problems, mind-body problems, mucus that’s green before January 1, 2013 or blue thereafter, open sores, open questions, blurred vision, hallucination and other failures of singular reference, enlarged prostates, rigid designators, projections lasting more than four hours – I could go on all day, really.”
So things can get pretty bad for the professional philosopher. But are the ailments of Greer’s patients truly reflective of a profession-wide problem? “For academic philosophy as a whole, things are as bad as I’ve ever seen,” Greer claims. “Acceptance rates are one indicator. Between five and ten percent. It’s abysmal.” I note that acceptance rates are even lower at the very top journals, but Greer corrects me. “Between five and ten percent of philosophers I meet accept that their PhD has earned them entry into a profession where they’ll be disrespected by students, ignored by peers, exploited by administrators, and out-earned by baristas. The rest are in denial.”