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What is The University of Michigan Student Dysfunction Disorder (UMSDD) exactly?  


It is a form of a combination anxiety and depression that inhibits students from performing at their best at U of M. Or it just makes them uneasy.


It may be that other college and university students, not only those attending U of M, have a version of UMSDD.  I don’t know, really, but I imagine they do.


Yet there is something unique about the U of M student, even if we lost to Ohio State this year.  Some kind of smart-ass thing that is just fabulously hilarious. I could tell stories of the U of M student humor thing. Most people laugh at it. And most people laugh when I articulate UMSDD.  Yet there is a lot of reality in it. See the button, “Students” for a full description. Perhaps you will recognize some items of concern for yourself. The various challenges that face the U of M Student.  Most deal with it OK but some seek professional help to find a pathway to better performance for themselves and to improve their mood.


Recently, I have observed something new to add to the list:  Uncertainty Management. It is not limited to “what am I going to do for the rest of my life.” Somehow, even if the better students are confident in their performance, and believe that they are competitive, they are just are troubled by the daily uncertainty life presents, including the ambiguity of college life.  Sure, I’ll get a job--but where? And what do I actually want to do every day? I really don’t want to be stuck at my internship forever. Yeah, I did well on the last exam, but what about the next one?” Yeah, Katie went out with me a few times, and I feel comfortable with her and she seemed to have fun, but does she actually like me?  The recent unexpected death of a family member, even if elderly, the first death the student had to suffer through, can trip off the experience of the inherently fragile and temporary nature of life. This can trigger an overall sense of uncertainty about life for the first time. Part of growing up.


Virtually all University of Michigan students are smart.  Some are hard working, doing well in school. Some have supportive families. They go home a lot.  Some have a sister, brother or cousin at U of M, the parents are loving. You’d think all this would provide a good measure of security for them.  But it sometimes it doesn’t. Some do not do so well with uncertainty, although they are capable. Then they hit their senior year and it smacks them in face.  Will someone hire me? Where will I live? What am I going to be doing? I’ll be kinda lonely without my friends around. What do I do for a girlfriend or boyfriend?  Should I keep my summer job? While these questions are usual, customary and reasonable, (most people have some doubts about stuff) they can be so unpleasant to the point the student seeks counseling to get some help.


What is the help that the student will receive from counseling?  As a therapist, it’s easy to figure out what the problem is. Even mapping pathway from where you are now to the place you want to get to is not that difficult even as this pathway is as idiosyncratic as the great variety of the students themselves.


The challenge it motivating the student to identify and take the next right step that will help him of her to be more secure inside themselves. This the management tool for uncertainty.  


Rational thinking helps: considering the evidence, winding down excessive concern, stopping making a catastrophe of an ordinary.  So does finding support from friends and family. Just talking about uncertainty to a counselor helps find the reassurance that there is nothing really “wrong” but that you have to learn new skills.

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