All of my course work had been completed and now the final challenge was to write and defend a dissertation. This ,task has been a major obstacle through the halls of academia for many individuals and despite their intelligence to complete all of the academic requirements somehow the dissertation often became the iceberg in front of the Titanic.
I was not overly anxious about this until the Dean called me into his office and told me that he had great news. He had spoken to Doctor George Albee the head of the American Psychological Association and he had gladly accepted to be a member of my committee. I am sure the dean thought he was doing me a great favor but like many people when faced with such a daunting mentor the little voice in my head said” oh oh this could be my Waterloo. George Albee was a giant in the field and the thought of his listening to my proposal scared the hell out of me.The Dean informed me that Doctor Albee was in town and would meet with me at nine o’clock the next morning.
Usually I am optimistic about everything, but the thought of presenting my proposal the next morning to such a heavyweight led to a restless and almost sleepless night. The salvation was that I employed Viktor’s technique of paradoxical intention. When faced with a fear instead of allowing the feelings to take control exaggerate the scenario to the point where it loses its grip and becomes less frightening. I imagined that Albee laughed at my proposal, marched me into the Dean’s office and said ‘how did you accept this clown into your prestigious program. His proposal is absolutely ludicrous and I think he should be immediately expelled.” Believe it or not imagining the worst thing that could happen actually calmed me and the time before the meeting found me relaxed and not apprehensive
.Entering the Deans office Doctor Albee greeted me and asked if I wanted a cup of coffee. His manner was friendly and he began the conversation by telling me that it had been years since he was in my shoes and vowed that he would be nicer to me than his chairperson had been to him. He asked”What did you have in mind Sal?
I began by explaining my proposal and how I planned to address the issues and also some of the areas I wished to explore. Probably because he was not only a brilliant academic but also an experienced clinician it was obvious how keenly he listened.When I finished he asked.”Would you like to make a major contribution to this area of study?” Before I could answer he added ‘If so it will take you at least ten years”. Without hesitation I answered I have no intention of spending the next ten years on the subject.” Ok he said the here are the ground rules. You come highly recommended by Dean Rucker but your Dissertation will be another brick in the brickyard.It will prove neither wit,charm nor great intellect. I will be happy to be on your committee but you must finish it in one year. You must have some fun doing it, and your parents must read and understand it. If you agree to these then it will be my pleasure to be on the committee.”
I could not believe his approach and he was as good as his word. I finished in a year, and met all the requirements he laid down.