Typical Issues in a PhD Program

Based on my own experience and conversations with many PhD students and therapists, I’ve identified some of the common issues, feelings and behaviors of PhD students, which often relate to the distinct features of doing a PhD.

Some distinct features of a PhD
  1. Independent work

  2. Competition

  3. Finding innovative ideas under the pressure of time

  4. Very high standards

  5. Very long-term objectives (publish a paper)

  6. Uncertain/low pay

  7. No fixed structure of the day

And common issues/ feelings
  1. Perfectionism

  2. Fear of failure

  3. Feeling lost

  4. Impostor Syndrome
  5. Procrastination

  6. Loneliness

  7. Long-term stress

  8. Anxiety

And some resulting behaviors
  1. You compare yourself too much to colleagues

  2. You don’t ask a question in a seminar not to sound stupid

  3. You identify yourself with your paper

  4. You are scared to talk to your advisor

  5. You don’t know how to deal with criticism