For the typical Harvard student, Halloween has lost its luster. In this month when lecture material gets serious, when the first paper deadlines lurk in the shadows, when the GRE and LSAT rear their ugly heads, October 31 is just not that scary.
And while Halloweens come and go, the daily stress of life in academia inspires nightmares all year long. Every-one experiences anxiety dreams--not just students, but administrators and yes, professors too.
Even Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield '53: "I have dreams about horrible goblins. [Pause] They're white. [Pause] And they have the appearance [long pause] of conventional opinions."
"I have them early in the morning," Mansfield whispers, "when things are at their lowest."
ABOUT LAST NIGHT
Those who claim they are nightmare-free are simply not remembering their unconscious fears, according to a therapist at University Health Services (UHS) who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Everybody has them. The question is not `am I dreaming?' but `am I remembering them?"'
Senior Adviser for first-years Michael J. Middleton might be expected to have plenty of nightmares. But no: "I keep so busy I don't remember them," he says.
He does admit, however, that his worst fears would be realized if he were to wake up and find ``all the proctors gone, leaving me all alone with 1600 freshmen."
Even people who claim not to remember specific anxiety dreams will report knowing they have dreamt, says Associate Professor of Psychology Michael E. Hasselmo '84. "It has to do with waking patterns, how quickly the person wakes up out of REM sleep," he explains.
"Good Lord," exclaims Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III. "I don't have any [anxiety dreams]. I used to have one but it stopped a long time ago: I'm taking a math test and I don't know the answers."
But that was then; this is now. "I guess I'm so happy at Harvard I don't get them," Epps says.
10,000 FEARS OF HARVARD
What about the rest of the Harvard population--is it saturated with more anxieties than other schools?
No, says the UHS therapist. "There is a tendency for people at Harvard to think they do more or less than people at large. There's a certain amount of elitism in that that I don't subscribe to."
But Hasselmo points out that dreams about exam failure may be more common at Harvard. "[Harvard] students and faculty are highly motivated people and they put a strong emotional store in how they'll do on an exam."