I have a pet theory that the PhD process is at least part about unresolved issues from childhoods. At least, it was for me. (There are probably less expensive, less time consuming and less stressful ways of working through such matters than by doing a PhD by the way). At 40 I still felt angry at streets which seemed to treat the working class kid I was in an unnecessarily cruel way. These streets created dark scary alleys I had ran through and un-crossable chasms of deaf, inhuman vehicles. Someone (who?) had designed long winding suburban routes that made my journeys on foot long and painful and had designed roads which created the pools of water I had to wade through.
At 40 I still felt pained remembering Harry, a close cousin lost to a road traffic incident. This tragic loss of life compounded my frustration with the status quo. Moving to South Africa, one of the most road-violent countries in the world just highlighted the injustices further. Some years into the PhD process, when I was struggling to gather the necessary level of de-personalised ‘objective’ dispassion for a good piece of research I realised that my research question was driven at least in part by this anger. It’s OK, I realised, to be motivated by the anger, but in a PhD you can’t let the anger blind you.