Inappropriate authorities

Description and type: citation of parents, grandparents, clergy, and other authority figures from student's own preacademic past in support of personal conclusions (vide personalism). Digressive/repressive disorder.

Symptoms and signs: this symptomatology is especially severe when those conclusions are incompatible with the instructor's argumentation or generally with the university's mission (examples: extreme anti-intellectual religious fundamentalism, sixties bohemianism or antiauthoritarianism), but, due to the alarming proliferation of authoritative sources of knowledge it entails, it may have dangerous effects even when fully compatible.

Etiology: incomplete separation process from childhood, typical of late adolescents on the verge of adulthood. Student has not yet sufficiently idealized his/her childhood as "behind me" or thematized his/her exclusive internalization of academic authorities as "mature independence."

Treatment: mild symptoms respond well to pedagorine (Apple-a-Day); more acute cases indicate cautious use of trihexypapamine (NoDad).

Prognosis: excellent. Outdated authority-attachments are easily displaced with new ones, especially in a supportive conformative environment like the university.

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Copyright 1992 Doug Robinson and Bill Kaul