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2021-04-23

Shock and Awe (from Univ. on Watch: REMASTERED edition)

President George W. Bush walks from Marine One to the press area on the South Lawn on December 9, 2008. Photo by Dennis Brack (Newscom TagID: bsphotos024352) [Photo via Newscom]

Book excerpt from university on watch remastered edition
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The next step in contesting admission seemed obvious to me: pummel the English department into submission using “shock and awe.” The plan was simple: bombard the department with paperwork. Inundate them with busywork until everyone in the department collapsed from sheer exhaustion. I would achieve this with course petition slips, grievances, long rambling emails, handwritten notes, and anything else I could find that drew on the department’s energy.

The faculty’s energy was being depleted daily, if not by the normal events of the semester, then from my doing. But what exactly was I doing? The disconnect between what I thought I was doing and what was actually happening widened by the day, and by semester’s end I envisioned a new reality that was apparent to me alone. Now that I understood the department wanted nothing to do with me, I would create a new language (meta-power) to alter the admission decision. If I couldn’t have a language, then I would destroy it.

“What did you do this time, Jacques?” students asked as they passed me in the corridor. I was almost certain they knew what I was doing because I had been clear from the beginning of the campaign about my intentions. I would simply respond, “Oh, you know, dropping bombs!” Later, as my condition worsened, I simply said, “Poufff!” and gestured with my hands to indicate a bomb exploding. But these students had no idea what I was talking about. They had no idea whatsoever.

Every day, I ramped up the bombardment. More notes! More emails! More everything! Finally, my health worsened to the point that my notes and emails were completely indecipherable and unreadable. By then the semester was almost over, and it seemed to me that I had won. The professors’ offices were closed and locked. The department was operating with a skeleton crew, apparent by the dwindling number of staff. But the absence of people was due to the impending summer break, not the metaphorical bombs.

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

"I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others."

"In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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