Your least favorite person in your Social Studies seminar visits a therapist.
Your least favorite person in your Social Studies seminar visits a therapist. By Monica Zheng

The Harvard Man Goes to Therapy

Your least favorite person in your Social Studies seminar visits a therapist. But don’t worry, “Harvard Man” — an archetype that plagues this particular ivory tower — isn’t cured. He will still interrupt you to explain your own lived experiences to you tomorrow.
By Olivia G. Pasquerella

Doc: So what brings you in today?

Harvard Man: I am one with the wind. A northbound gust propelled me into this quaint little office with its bright plush couches and artificial succulents. Might I suggest, though, that you add some Freud to that bookshelf over there? Your field would not exist without him, you know.

Doc: Interesting. Along with the wind, I know that your primary care physician also recommended you see me. They said you might be having problems adjusting socially. So why don’t you tell me about yourself — who are you?

Harvard Man: Scoff. How can I possibly elucidate a response to a question that has evaded the minds of the brightest men for centuries? Have you not read Sartre?

But to offer an alternative response — I am Harvard Man. Junior in Eliot House. Concentrating in Social Studies with a special secondary in WAP, which, of course, stands for Wittgenstein and the Art of Postantipseudosurrealism.

Doc: I see. (Jots down “Patient’s dorm is a strangely important part of their identity.”) How would you describe your childhood?

Harvard Man: My first memory is of swimming in the creamy soup of my mother’s womb and wishing she played a little less Spears and a little more Stravinsky. To this day, this has caused a massive rift in my relationship with my mother. Regardless, I was born by C-section. I respect women too much to hurtle headfirst out of their gentler regions.

I’ve been told that when I was born, I cried a lot. What they don’t know is that I cried each one of those tears for every elder eating a meal alone in a crowded restaurant, for all the missed connections between well-meaning but ill-fated lovers, and for all the suffering in this world that has no end and no meaning.

Doc: How does that make you feel?

Harvard Man: …

By 4 months old, I could demonstrate by proof that if baby have wet poopy diaper, then baby need change. I had also read “Das Kapital” cover-to-cover, so I could really sympathize with the family maid who changed my Pampers.

I knew that I had to prove my intellectual prowess to the world expeditiously, as a man’s first few 12 months are the most formative when he is later a candidate for tenure. My papers explaining the social phenomenon of the “crib” through the lens of Foucault’s panopticon and arguing for Gerber banana puffs after every meal as a Kantian universal law sent shockwaves through the philosophy community.

Doc: What about your teenage years?

Harvard Man: High school was… tough. Not academically, of course. I took the most rigorous set of studies at Grotondover Prep. But alas, I was Sisyphus, pushing his boulder up the mountain every day only to watch a cackling group of cross country jocks push it back down to the base. Philistines, just philistines, all around me!

They were all too exuberant to join my “Dead Poets Society”-themed club, but it turned out they just wanted me to stand on a desk so that they could pull it out from under me. Things were rough after that. The very sight of a school desk now makes me dizzy and unsustainably anxious. But Kierkegaard describes anxiety as the dizziness of freedom. Thus, I have never been more free.

Doc: How would you describe your life at college?

Harvard Man: I go to Harvard.

Doc: Yes, I know.

Harvard Man: I don’t think I understand. Can you rephrase the question?

Doc: How would you describe your life at Harvard?

Harvard Man: Ah. Well, as a first-year, I was careful to solidify my image as a member of this generation’s beatnik intelligentsia. I was never seen without a candy cigarette poised between my lips and all 23 Hum 10 books, even in Tasty Basty.

As a sophomore, I decided that the Kerouac thing had gone stale. Though it caused some unfashionable fraying on the patches of my tweed blazers, I took up the practice of hacky-sacking on the steps of Widener. I was a “regular American Joe.” Little did my peers know, underneath that strapping, hypermasculine surface, I had very strong opinions about brands of parchment and feather quills.

Doc.: And how are you doing now?

Harvard Man: As a junior, I have continued the journey of peeling back the many layers of my psyche to discover the refined young man inside. He enjoys bringing a champagne flute to the dhall to sip choccy milk from — it’s the finer things!

However, I have started to find that my normal interests, like practicing equestrianism in Harvard Square and asking women if they’ve heard of Keats, have started to bring me less joy. It’s all very Kafkaesque. That, I suppose, is why I’m here. Along with the wind. It’s probably 70 percent wind, 30 percent Kafkaesque.

Doc.: Hmm, and how exactly are these things Kafkaesque?

Harvard Man: (Jumps suddenly out of his chair) Oh, wow! Would you look at the time? (He unsheaths an intricate pocket watch from his leather satchel.) I must be on my way. There is much carpe to be diemed.

Harvard Man leaves the therapist’s office to return to the comfort of his home. But Harvard Man’s dorm in Eliot serves as his “bachelor pad” — he often studies for his Bachelor of Arts there — and he wants to hang up his hat in a more soothing environment after the interrogation he so valiantly endured. So, he bikes on his penny-farthing bike to his off-campus apartment. Upon entering, his nanny — the same one from childhood — takes off his tweed blazer and helps him change into his long blue, striped nightgown and matching sleeping cap. As he gets cozy under his Dune-themed covers, his nanny reads him excerpts from a working-class, intersectional feminist poetry anthology. It always puts him right to sleep