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The Nordic PhD

Surviving and Succeeding

Edited By Christopher McMaster, Caterina Murphy and Jakob Rosenkrantz de Lasson

The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding is an edited book written for prospective and current doctoral students by a mix of doctoral students and those who have recently completed their doctorates. The premise is simple: if you could go back in time and talk with yourself when you began your studies, what advice would you give? Isn’t hindsight a bonus? If only I knew then what I know now!

The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding follows editions focused on study in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, the U.K., U.S., and South Africa. What sets The Nordic PhD: Surviving and Succeeding apart from many others on the market is its down-to-earth and practical approach. Furthermore, its originality also lies in the fact that it is grounded in the context of doctoral studies in the Nordic countries.

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Chapter Nine: Maintaining Your Mental Health All the Way Through the PhD Process (Kamma Overgaard Hansen)


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Maintaining Your Mental Health All the Way Through the PhD Process


Carrie is standing alone in her living room, staring at the wall. Photographs, maps, tickets, prints, transcribed telephone conversations, handwritten notes … all form a complex, collage-like archive over all the traces in her current case. Carrie is pulling strings from one element to another. Carrie is organizing all the elements in colour. Carrie forgets to eat. Carrie stays up all night. Carrie is going mad.



Fans of the TV series Homeland will probably recognize this description of its main character, CIA officer Carrie Mathison, who is brave and brilliant—but suffering from bipolar disorder. Carrie takes great risks, crosses borders, and sacrifices practically everything in her struggle to solve a case, while being met with skepticism and disbelief (Cuesta, Gideon, Gansa, & Gordon, 2011–2013: season 1–3). As art historian W. J. T. Mitchell has put it, she is suffering from a ‘Cassandra-complex’: Being blessed with the ability to predict the future but cursed in that nobody is ever going to believe her (Mitchell, 2015).

Your PhD process will probably not be quite as terrifying as Carrie’s struggle with international terrorism and disbelieving colleagues, yet the PhD process might occasionally be filled with desperation, loneliness, skepticism, and growing madness. Three years of...

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