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Question 56: What kept you going to school thru high school? That's my question. Typically, at high school, they just suspend, which is what [my son] would LOVE ... then they just don't invite them back sooner or later. I called his V/P this am and he has no problem if one of us spends a day or 2 escorting him to classes, just to give him a tune-up.....we shall see.. I guess what I really need to know is.....what kept you going to classes, was it being suspended or did you have to hit a crisis before you got the message that you have to go to pass? What to do? M.S., ON, Canada.

Hi M.S.

I think that, unfortunately, the answer to your question is probably at least as complicated as you mentioned the background is.........there isn't a single easy answer for me to give.

-The fact that my family was quite achievement oriented to begin with and so high marks gave me the attention and reinforcement I yearned for from them

-The fact that my OCD then "amplified" this desire to achieve to a perfectionistic mission

-The fact that I would never have been able to "slip through the cracks" even if I wanted to
because it was a small town, my sister had done exceptionally well before me, and my father was trustee and, intermittently, chairman of the school board. This didn't curry favour (often the opposite) but it DID put a very large spotlight on me and my performance

-The fact that I was good at school, and so gave me some self-esteem when I had so little

-The fact that I only ever felt good about myself when I was helping others, and so I decided I wanted to be a psychologist and since psychologists were doctors I simply had to go as far as one could go in school and that was all there was to it -- blinders to any other option fuelled again by compulsion

-Perhaps the fact that I wasn't diagnosed with anything and so no one even offered to
lower any bars -- my parents stayed on top of me to accomplish everything they knew me to be capable of while at the same time allowing me the independence to accomplish these things IN MY OWN WAY -- in other words not compromising on the ends, but being very flexible in the means TO those ends


Etc., etc........ as I say I think a lot of aspects combine together to give a person the outlook they have at a certain point in life: these rather idiosyncratic ones I mention probably just scratch the surface. If there is any truism about teens though, it's that 'going through the front door' and telling teens what they SHOULD do never works.

Along that line I wrote a response to someone recently around a similar question to yours and posted it...........I think you should definitely read it too (at ... it might give you some ideas as well M.

Again, I'm sorry my response wasn't as helpful as both of us might have liked it to be, but hopefully something I've offered may be useful. I guess bottom line was that I went through most of my academic wrangling in public school so by the time I was IN high school I was simply in an academic mode that I've remained in ever since. I think also the TIMES were very different -- these days teens bring guns to school and smuggle drugs into lockers. "In my day" being suspended was the absolute end of the world: something that only happened to the biggest of the losers and was flat out unfathomable.

So I guess I would also say then that abject fear is not always a bad thing to add to the mix -- there were certain respect boundaries that my generation (and probably yours) simply didn't cross that no one thinks twice about stomping all over now. That is a difficult pendulum to sway because that's not just a TS thing -- it is a generational identity which is firmly entrenched (and probably only amplified by the disorders). I think that a lot of society runs based on fear -- fear of what will happen if you DON'T show up for work, fear of what will happen if you DO hit that person, etc. -- and people about 10 years younger than me don't seem to be afraid of anything. Some would argue that is a very GOOD thing, and to an extent I would agree. But not entirely.

Have a good night M!

Dr. Dunc.

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Last updated on March 25, 2022

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