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"Frijda provoked students"

"Frijda provoked students"

Marko Jelicic inspired by Nico Frijda

“Unconventional and provocative.” That is how Marko Jelicic (55), senior lecturer at the Faculty of Psychology and Neurosciences, describes his source of inspiration, Nico Frijda (87). Frijda, emeritus professor at the University of Amsterdam, gained international fame with his magnum opus The Emotions (1986). In this book, he proposes that emotions are the driving force behind human behaviour. This was in a time when psychologists concentrated primarily on behaviour, considering emotions as a secondary phenomenon.

In the nineteen-eighties, Jelicic was a student of psychology in Amsterdam and was taught by Frijda. “It was the age of neutron bombs, protests and feminism. Students were rebellious, but unlike other lecturers, Frijda knew how to rein them in. He provoked with politically incorrect remarks. During a lecture, he once came out with: ‘You know, professors don’t earn too bad at all.’ Earning money at that time was not fashionable. But in that way he knew how to hold the students’ attention.”

As far as Jelicic could see, most lecturers just muddled on. “They mumbled behind a piece of paper with their notes. Many students just gave up or spent their time reading the newspaper. It was a mess.” This wasn’t the case with Frijda’s lectures. “I took a strange course with him. It was about deviating consciousness.” We read Freud and Hilgard, discussed dreams and hypnosis. Frijda was able make the connection between theory and practice like no other and interacted with his audience. “He spoke directly to you: ‘Hey you there. Have you ever had a crazy dream or hallucinated?’ He was an authority. You had to say something.”

Jelicic has copied Frijda’s little trick. “Interaction and real-life examples are the best way to transfer knowledge.” He himself teaches about ‘malingering’. That is feigning complaints for personal gain. How does he come up with those examples from real life? “I don’t have a well of personal experience,” forensic psychologist Jelicic laughs. “But I often tell about my brother. In order to get out of doing military service, he pretended to have psychological problems. He learned from a book how he could deceive the psychologists. It’s not only criminals who malinger.” Whether he is a better lecturer because of Frijda’s lessons, he doesn’t know. “I think I am not a bad teacher. But we all know that we quickly forget criticism and we remember the good things others say about us.”

Ingrid Candel



This is a series in which scientists talk about the person who inspired them most



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