At the end of my first semester at Kenyon, I walked out of my last Introduction to Psychology class armed with a deeper understanding of the difference between assimilation and accommodation, the image of Professor White doing a handstand (Ed.: Wasn’t she pregnant?), and a psychological diagnosis for everyone around me, including myself. Here are the top five mental illnesses that Intro to Psychology students (Ed.: try to) diagnose themselves with.
- Social Phobia (an irrational fear of being publicly humiliated or embarrassed): Any first-year that went through the emotional rollercoaster that is Orientation will most likely have aggressively highlighted this definition in their textbooks. The overwhelming fear that rises up in your throat as you eat dinner with people you do not know and find yourself with nothing to say and a not so discrete piece of kale stuck between your teeth seems pretty on point with the diagnosis.
- Panic Disorder (characterized by the sudden occurrence of multiple psychological and physiological symptoms that contribute to a feeling of stark terror): The days leading up to winter break my first year were full of episodes that applied directly to this definition. Any time I looked at my midterm schedule, or went to Peirce in search of Earl Grey tea and found only lemon zinger, launched my body into a sudden panic attack.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (characterized by depressive episodes that occur in a seasonal pattern): All the first-year students who come to Kenyon from the West Coast most likely called home when winter first arrived and read this definition over the phone in urgent and pleading voices. Who knew that you needed special shoes to wear in the snow to avoid tripping and falling on Middle Path? Don’t worry: lying in your room in Norton, listening to music exclusively from Los Angeles artists and crying softly into your pillow isn’t Seasonal Affective Disorder, it just means that you are experiencing winter for the first time.
- Dissociative Fugue Disorder (involves the sudden loss of memory for one’s personal history, accompanied by an abrupt departure from home and the assumption of a new identity): In my Intro class, when the professor showed us a PowerPoint slide on this particular disorder, my head shot up immediately and my mind floated back to that first real college party. Hadn’t I been missing key information from that night? I had just abruptly left home, after all. It fits! The diagnosis was deeply reassuring.
- Bipolar Disorder (an unstable emotional condition characterized by cycles of abnormal, persistent high mood and low mood): This is an almost unavoidable diagnosis for all Intro Psych students, made easily based on your average dinner at Peirce. Waiting in line only to be met with trays displaying only fried food is enough to make anyone enter into a deep low mood. This is of course countered by the high mood that results from coming back in for dessert and spotting cookie pie, fresh out of the oven, waiting on a plate just for you.