Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘University of Oklahoma at Norman

Introspection (continue 40)

 

Psychological testing

I recall an event in summer of 1985 at the University of Oklahoma (Norman); I had just arrived from Lebanon a week ago and I was waiting for the fall semester to start.  I was roaming the campus re-discovering the various facilities and programs offered after 8 years of absence after I earned an MS in Industrial engineering.

I stumbled on a program, free of charge, which claimed to provide aid, comfort, and psychological evaluation to students. 

I had time to spare and I am curious by nature.  I sat for this long 2-hour psychiatry test, the kind of paper and pencil test that I cherish very much, hoping for enlightenment in that venue. I diligently answered the couple hundred questions as frankly as I knew.

Since I didn’t know myself, I assume that many of the answers about my characteristics and attitudes might be wrong, but I had to give a grade for each general question. I still keep the results that the computer generated. I have to dig up the results and restudy them.

As far as I can remember, most of the indicators were average, the indicators with good connotations were lousily rated and the ones with bad connotations were highly rated. I submitted my results to the intern graduate psychology student working at the facility who repeated what was written and could not provide me with any satisfactory explanation of who am I. He suggested that free psychological sessions are offered, free of charge, for us who have taken the trouble to sit for two hours for the test. I guess these tests were kind of a final year project to the graduate student. 

The appointed graduate student in psychology read the results but was not qualified for evaluation; he referred me to attend a meeting.  I am by nature curious and I obliged.

A dozen students where seated in a circle around a moderator. Soon, the session took a turn that was highly disturbing to me. Students started divulging, in total candor, their inner troubles, failings, and sufferings. Many cried telling their stories and many others sympathized by sharing with their cries. I was sitting still, stone faced, and stoic during the whole session.

I kept coming for all the duration of the program, of maybe 5 sessions, because I felt it would be rude of me to quit and admit that my enrollment was a plain mistake. I never spoke a word or felt compelled to deliver a story, lacking imagination and not recalling that my upbringing was an excellent subject for shared compassion.

I was completely sure that I am not one of them and that it was just a one time experience. I laughed inside and did not resume anything.

I sincerely doubt that I can open up to a shrink, even lying down on a sofa: I have a sick ego and I am too sarcastic and critical to pull a session through.

 

I knew that my emotions and feelings towards my parents are sort of neutral, a sort of tacit recognition that we have responsibilities to our survival as a family but no overt expression of affection either verbally or in writing. 

I may guess that this is the worst case in psychological imbalances because we lack the constant opening up in our relations. 

Maybe our angers surface occasionally when we realize that we needed more care and encouragement to mingle than be sheltered as immature kids.

I believe that genetically the emotional development of my younger brother, my younger sister and I were lacking because many other kids were also confined in boarding schools and their parents were not as providing as our parents and somehow they turned out enterprising and raised better than normal families of their own.

Maybe emotional development has nothing to do with being successful to the eyes of the community.

In our case, my brother, sister and I, the development was worsened by the ignorance of our parents in bringing up kids.  Neither their past nor their characters nor their level of education and upbringing offered my folks the means to express their feelings frankly and openly, especially my father who lived separated from both his parents for many years since his childhood. 

My dad might have decided to dissociate emotionally from us on the fact that mother was showing signs of being over protective and as her sole responsibility, save the financial side. (More on these topics in later sections)

The Tunnel (Ch. 37 of autobiography)

 

The Dean, who was from India, refused me a grant as a former graduate in Industrial engineering. Dr. Foote, my former MS advisor, failed to actively support me as I expected of him.

I had no choice but to enroll in order to straighten my visa status from business to graduate student. I paid the full exorbitant tuition for 12 credit-hours and was completely broke by the end of the semester.

I had to take three undergraduate courses, two of them I had taken but the third one (Experimental Design) turned out to be the most interesting and very important for my field.  I settle for the Human Factor specialty within the industrial engineering department because Dr. Purswell agreed to be my advisor the next semester.

Dr. Purswell managed to offer me a quarter-time scholarships that allowed me to reduce the tuition rate.  Dr. Purswell was more interested in the health and safety aspects in this field: he had a private company in forensic engineering for work related accidents. 

There were not enough graduate Human Factors courses in the industrial engineering department for a PhD program: the human factors field was not well developed as the other industrial engineering specialties and the university lacked qualified professors in that field. I was lucky to complement my course requirements in many other departments which offered me new perspective and approach to the human element in all these artificial human made systems.

            I enrolled in a couple of graduate courses in the Psychology department and I felt at home; my heart got set on the cognitive aspect of human capabilities and limitations, instead of the physical aspects that is known as Ergonomics and the modeling of the human body versus the functions of the brain.

Thus, I ended up taking courses in various departments such as marketing, business, economics, education and others to fulfill the required number of graduate credit-hours.

I had taken many courses in cognitive psychology and various statistical modeling and software analysis programs that are frequently used in marketing, business, psychology and econometric  

One professor by the name Getty gave me credits for the Pascal programming language that I had audited and did all the homework and exams as I paid for the course the next semester.  

I was hooked to the cognitive field in Human Factors but my advisor would have none to do with cognition for my dissertation: he was not interested in such a field and it was not in his line of business.  To be fair, Dr. Purswell was more than patient with me and let me write two proposals related to cognition that both were turned down within a year. 

Finally, Dr. Purswell had to deliver an ultimatum or he would have no choice but to suspend my scholarships.

I was ordered to stop all part-time jobs. I obeyed and within a semester I wrote the proposal, designed the experiment, finished setting up the fictitious chemical lab and carried out several intelligence testing protocols just to divert the true objective from the over 120 “subjects”

The subjects were mostly first year Psychology students because they are required to submit to experiments for credit-hours. That semester was hectic but a lot of fun.

The next semester was the worst of all semesters because I had to input thousands of data and read hundreds of pages of computer statistical results and the gruesome task of writing up my dissertation.

I had Dr. Schelegel in my advisory team and he forced me to use a specialized word processing program, simply because the print was professional and versatile. The problem was that no one could interpret the error in the program and fix it when I got stuck except him. I occasionally had to wait a couple of weeks to meet with him in order to untangle stupid word processing glitches.

Introspection: Suhail, (continue 36)

 

This is my second trip to the University of Oklahoma at Norman, 1985. I am planning for a Ph.D degree in Industrial Engineering.

 

In the meantime, I had contacted the university student foreign office and it was run by Sue. A lovely structural engineering undergraduate student, Suhail from Tunisia, agreed to share his university apartment with me.  Suhail loved everything that is Lebanese, food, music and all, but I was not up to his expectations. 

 

Suhail was a bright and caring person; he finished his PhD in no time and wrote an “artificial intelligent” computer program for structural engineers; the program would prompt you with inquiries and at the end it would suggest the proper equation to use for your problem or project.  The notion of artificial intelligence was the rage at the time and I had audited a course on that topic because I could not afford tuition and read many books on the topic.

 

The next year, Suhail got married with a Palestinian/US girl in Norman and got a son; he did all these things while I was plugging in to get past my General Exam. I think Suhail’s wife name was Wafaa and she helped her parents in a restaurant that specialized in Near Eastern food. I recall that we occasionally had the specialty of the day around lunch time; probably Suhail’s visits were much more frequent.

 

Suhail aided me greatly in writing the computer program for my computer generated experiment: I started writing the program in Pascal but I was not that proficient in programming, and Suhail translated my ideas into C++.  I had audited a course in C++ because I could not afford any tuition but had to stop coming to class. I thought that I was taking an introductory course in C++ but discovered quickly that the computer engineers were already proficient in that programming language. The funny part was that the team I was added to were gracious enough to deliver me the programming instructions of its final project.

 

Suhail obtained his Ph.D before me, and was working with his advisor, capitalizing on the artificila intelligence program he had written. I met him once before I left Norman and he had a son already and had visited Tunisia with his wife.

 

Note: The cynic in me could not find a fault in Suhail: He has all the capabilities and rare deficiencies that I could think of. He his handsome, smart, sober, funny, smiling…and can be all he sets his mind at doing and being.  I hope that Tunisia after the Spring upheaval will find a place for Suhail to prosper and be the change that this lovely people deserve. It love Suhail and it would be nice to meet with him again.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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