Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mistaken Identity: Comment

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mistaken Identity: Comment

Article excerpt

If I could change something about myself, it wouldn't be my witchy nose or ridiculously prehensile chin (thanks, TES illustrators, for pointing that out to me), but my predilection for guilt. Whenever anything goes wrong, I blame myself.

When I'm out shopping, if a garment slips off its hanger I berate myself for my clumsiness even though I'm standing in Outdoor Coats and it's on the floor in Knitwear. The fact that five other shoppers stand between me and it does little to assuage my pain because when you suffer from Obsessive Guilt Disorder (OGD), everything is your fault.

My OGD is worse in school because so many things can go wrong. In the Bermuda Triangle of the classroom, students' books disappear, worksheets go missing and money evaporates from drawers. The healthy response is to shrug these things off and blame the kids, but I trace the cat's cradle of causality back to myself. If only I'd bucked up my ideas sooner, there'd be no lost coursework, no missing data and the last dodo would still be alive.

OGD is a tiresome compulsion. Whenever an object goes missing, you have to turn your classroom upside down in case you've inadvertently swiped it. And when students hand in shoddy homework, you have to castigate yourself for not erecting a massive hoarding along the side of the school that says: "SPEND 45 MINUTES ON THIS TASK" and then flips into a neon reminder: "AND WRITE AT LEAST ONE AND A HALF SIDES." For people with OGD, the knowledge that you wrote all this on your whiteboard is never quite enough. …

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