Sybil Autobiography: Chapter 3

Once home, while still working at the Maudsley, I started to think about this psychology degree that was supposed to be so easy. I did consider University College but they found out that I had dropped out of the Imperial College and didn't want me. The most sensible solution seemed to be to take an external degree which I set about doing. After all who better to guide me than Hans? Well that last notion was soon dispelled when I failed to get any support as he reckoned that when he took exams he enjoyed the experience as he always knew the answers and thought erroneously that I fell into that category too. In the event I coped with most of the papers reasonably well but when it came to the philosophy syllabus I was completely lost. I remember clearly an occasion when I tried to get to grips with a philosophy paper when I was so frustrated that I burst into tears. Finally Hans slowly lowered his newspaper and took some notice and from then on he helped me.

As mentioned before in the last chapter, another thing I learned about Hans, quite early in our relationship, was that no amount of goading to quarrel was of use. He simply would not be drawn into any confrontation with me which I tried to provoke initially as an attention seeking move before realising that his occasionally withdrawn stance was when he was working out a theory or composing a new plan for a book! He also explained that, in his experience, things are said in the heat of an argument that one does not really mean but having uttered them there is no taking them back. How right he was as I knew to my cost having endured many unfortunate tiffs my parents had before splitting up, though whether they meant everything they hurled at each other I shall never know. As mentioned elsewhere in this Autobiography, however, when both my parents were near ninety years of age, irrespective of all that had happened over the years, my Dad travelled to see my Mum in Tasmania and they apparently enjoyed long "do you remember when" talks together. Perhaps time healed but better never to quarrel in the first place as Hans rightly insisted. After that I cannot remember trying to provoke him ever again and we lived happily ever after as in all good fairy tales.

After I managed to get my degree I went straight for the Ph.D. hoping to bypass the M.Sc. as Hans was my supervisor. My internal examiner was Philip Vernon who was an introvert of few words and when at the oral I asked whether I had passed answered "you are supposed to deduce that from the tone of the oral". On the strength of that we celebrated that evening and, fortunately, I had passed.

                                                                I MARRIED A GENIUS

                                                                 Chapter 3: Studying for the Degree