Originally posted last May 10, 2005 here.
One of the most entertaining exam creatures is the Freak Out. This is the person who wilts under the pressure of exams until they have a memorable and embarrassing public breakdown. The Freak Out is expected during the first semester of the first year. Nobody can really fault an emotionally frazzled student embarking on their first set of law school exams to lose it. Usually, this person will either adapt or drop out. But a small number of first semester Freak Outs continue to freak out each subsequent exam session. Their predictable histrionics garner little sympathy past the first semsester. Rather, they provide a much needed comic relief and confidence boost to their more emotionally stable classmates.
The typical freak out comes in two forms: The first is the Preemptive Freak Out. This occurs before they have even started studying. It most often happens between the last day of class an the first exam. This person realizes the amount of work that lies ahead and loses it. This type of freak out is unexpected, but not nearly as entertaining as the other type: The Slow Build. The Slow Build, as the name suggests, slowly wears down as exams wear on. The pressure mounts and they become more frazzled. A percieved poor performance on one exam will increase the pressure on them. So will the complete inability to understand an important concept from one of their classes. You can usually see the warning signs: Mood swings, irritability, unsafe caffine consumption. They will do something ridiculous like spend 40 straight hours at the library. Bags will form under their eyes. They will wear the same clothes for days at a time. Their behavior seems a bit off. Then, all of the sudden, when confiding in a friend, they snap: The tears flow, their voice echos through the library. During the first semester, people will fell sorry for her. After that, they will laugh at her.
Considering the pressure involved in law school exams, one would think that the freak out would be more frequent. The hidden freak-out are aplenty but they prefer to go by the identity: The Functioning Alcoholic.