Unfortunately, students with emotional and psychological disorders are not uncommon on campuses anymore. In fact, along with the increase in the number of physically disabled students on campuses (now 6%), professors face new challenges, especially from those high-risk students suffering from hidden psychological disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression. There are many reasons for these increases, from government laws encouraging those with disabilities to attend college to the deterioration of family and community life. When a student makes a self-disclosing remark in an assigned paper, one instructor suggests that there are at least five possible responses for teachers in this position. First, they can use the "Ostrich Approach" by writing nothing in the margin. Second, they can use the "Rush Limbaugh Approach," by pointing out errors in the student's writing while ignoring the content. Third, they can use the "Sally Jessy Rafael Approach" by soliciting more information via platitudes like "thank you for sharing this with me." Fourth, they can use the "Dr. Quinn Approach" by rushing to perform heart surgery when an accepting ear was all that was needed. And fifth, they can use the professional approach by acknowledging someone's pain ("This must have been a terrible experience") and offering professional help and asking the writer what he or she would like you to do, if anything. (Contains 10 references, a handout of student writing samples, and some succinct guidelines for teacher responses to student self-disclosures.) (TB)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (46th, Washington, DC, March 23-25, 1995).