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One of my professors (a well-known Italian of those full-of-themselves prima donnas), speaking about her profession, once said that by practicing simultaneous interpreting some interpreters may develop some kind of second personality and become schizophrenic. Now, this professor is really good at interpreting, but when teaching she tends to over-exaggerate things, I guess. What do you think? Any direct/indirect experience? (Feel free to answer in Italian, German or French as well)

asked 16 Sep '12, 03:35

Stefano's gravatar image


edited 16 Sep '12, 18:46

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Schizophrenie ist ein Krankheitsbild, das oft fälschlich mit "Persönlichkeitsspaltung" verwechselt wird. Bitte Vorsicht.

Dolmetscher müssen (psychisch und physisch) gesund sein, um den Stress in diesem Beruf aushalten zu können.

Es gibt auch andere Berufe, in denen sich Profis in andere Menschen hineinversetzen müssen (Schauspieler, Sänger, Sprecher...). Dazu gehört viel Handwerk (solide Ausbildung) und ein wenig Talent (Kunst). Eine Spaltung der Persönlichkeit ist bei uns so selten wie bei Schauspielern.

Primadonnas und K...brocken gibt es unter den Kollegen natürlich auch. Ich glaube aber nicht, dass der Beruf daran schuld ist...

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answered 16 Sep '12, 04:28

Angela's gravatar image


Vielen Dank für die Antwort! Natürlich kommt es nicht auf das Dolmetschen an, dass diese Professorin eine Primadonna ist, aber seine Position (sie arbeitet mit hochrangigen Politikern) hat wahrscheinlich u.a. eine Rolle gespielt ;-)

(16 Sep '12, 05:49) Stefano

Stefano: Don't miss this video ;-)

Interpreter's mid career crisis

Thanks to Lourdes de Rioja !

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answered 19 Sep '12, 07:46

Angela's gravatar image


That was real fun!:-D Thanks for sharing!

(19 Sep '12, 08:04) Stefano

Excellent - this video is the ideal remedy after certain jobs;)

(22 Sep '12, 12:19) Tanja

...:-) I remember an article from quite some years ago wherein it was alleged that contrary to what could be "expected" based on what we do, the most common psychological affliction amongst CI wasn't schizo but neurosis in its many forms :-). The article did not quantify the experimental universe nor did it attempt to extrapolate general percentages... and if my experience is anything to go by, we have many shortcomings but are usually passably sane :-).

As to your not-very-kind prima-donna-full-of-herself label, have you considered that weak personalities do not have it easy in this profession and what you think you have "diagnosed" may be just a self-confident professional seen through the eyes of a student feeling around for depth?

There is indeed a tension between individualism - once the microphone is on - and team work in CI, which together with our inviting others into our minds for the better part of a working day, others which we must convincingly impersonate, can conceivably test one's fences... I have heard myself postulate opinions which I didn't know I had, in well rounded words which I later realised were not mine but some speaker's...

The very best CI's it's been my priviledge to know were however certainly not prima donnas - que las hay, las hay :-) - quite the opposite.

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answered 16 Sep '12, 06:10

msr's gravatar image


edited 22 Sep '12, 13:31

Thanks for answering. As for the prima-donna issue (which wasn't meant to become the main issue), I can only say that I wasn't the only student to make this "diagnosis" :-)

(16 Sep '12, 06:33) Stefano

It can exacerbate some sort of mental instability if it is already there, especially if that person just started to learn the skill. Simul is "controlled schizophrenia" after all when you hear voices in your head and are rewarded for repeating them accurately. Neurosis I think is not caused by interpretation, it is again exacerbated by it: neurosis influences the person style of interpreting, colors it in a certain way. Stress adds to worsening the neurosis, unless the interpreter makes a conscious attempt to work on his psychological issues. At the same time, interpretation shows us our own subconscious. So as I always say, interpreting will make you a better person and being a better person will make you a better interpreter if you avoid the neurotic curve.

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answered 22 Sep '12, 13:17

Cyril%20Flerov's gravatar image

Cyril Flerov

Wow, that's really interesting. Thanks a lot!

(22 Sep '12, 14:09) Stefano

This is a more humorous angle:

Bilingualism and Interpretation as Multiple Personality Disorder and Schizophrenia by now completely insane Cyril Flerov!topic/tradnorte/xNcKli3gEUg

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answered 16 Jun '16, 23:48

Cyril%20Flerov's gravatar image

Cyril Flerov

ans 2 more useful links on the topic:

Interpreter midlife crisis


“The mirror is originally clean” : Simultaneous interpreting as a form of dynamic meditation

Auto-hypnotic state you develop in simul is best protection iun my opinion from mental issues.

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answered 06 Nov '16, 23:30

Cyril%20Flerov's gravatar image

Cyril Flerov

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question asked: 16 Sep '12, 03:35

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