Listening to many doctoral students over the years a pattern seemed to appear. At first I ignored it and then a couple of successful doctoral students really discussed this in depth and it seems to have some sort of merit. Later when I began to actively ask doctoral students they would get this flash of insight and tell me stories about dependable older cars that had problems, lumps that appeared on breasts, cysts, garage door openers, computer hardware and software problems and various other interesting intermittent failures.
While stress hormones may affect breast tissue, illness and personal relationships it generally is not thought to affect garage door openers, phones, computers or software performance. Yet the folks all seem to have had a concentrated series of events that hit at the worst possible times. A pattern was clear with many of the former doctoral students. Some postulated an increase in electrical activity within the student or around the student. My response to them was to suggest that they cut back on the coffee, watch a little less science fiction and then we would laugh. Still something seemed to happen to a lot of folks.
In my case I ended up punching an actual 2 inch hole in the plastic part of our home computer. It had been a trusty until I started writing my thesis and then it screwed up whenever I worked on it. Then the kids and my wife complained often after I used it there were problems. Eventually I ended up with my own computer banned from going near the family one. Things did not work well for others if I had been on it and it did not connect as well either. It is funny now days we all have our own computers plus the ones on our phones. Back then none of those luxuries existed. The point is that things worked well as long as I stayed away from them. My cohort was already talking about the problem rather sheepishly since no one wanted to look foolish. We were all well learned doctoral students and did not want to look loony.
Yet the problem persisted for a number of us. So there might just be something there to expect for yourself. So you might want to prepare for this and then expect it so you do not freak out at a bad time. So if the paper is due and the file will not unlock so you can print or send it then relax and realize that you can explain this to your professor. Working yourself up, swearing at the stupid machine, being rude to your family and then driving too fast to class is not good. It gets worse when you get pulled over and are exceptionally rude to the police officer (still compliant but with a sneering attitude of contempt). The ticket that follows is painful resulting in about a $1,000 increase in insurance rates even with no previous ticket for 18 years.
I can attest to all of the above and in fact I even went to court to plead guilty for speeding just so I could apologize to the officer. Expect things to go bad and realize this pattern hits everyone. Do not snarl at others and say things that you will regret later. All of this will pass. A lot of doc students seem to go through this challenge phase. If you are one of these folks then realize that you will get through this. You can make it through this hopefully without a divorce, gaining 50 pounds or making enemies of family members or various professors. Expect challenges.
Mind your goals,
Dr. Randy Parker
National Doctoral Students Association