Urbach-Wiethe Disease [and the LSAT]

A MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN known as SM blithely reaches for poisonous snakes, giggles in haunted houses and once, upon escaping the clutches of a knife-wielding man, didn’t run but calmly walked away. A rare kind of brain damage precludes her from experiencing fear of any sort. (Source: Wired.)

Urbach-Wiethe disease is the name for the rare disorder, so rare that there have only been about 400 reported cases in history. I learned about this disease two nights ago from my business partner, Derek Meeker, who in turn heard about it on NPR. My immediate question to Derek was "how short of a life do they live?" I was thinking through all of the absurd situations I would get into if I had zero fear, as well as the condition where you can't feel pain known as 'congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis' (CIPA). With CIPA, your odds of living past 3 years of age are slim.

With Urbach-Wiethe, it turns out, your life expectancy is unaffected by the disease. While you may be more like to do something absurd like playing Russian Roulette or free climbing with no experience, you are much better equipped to deal with situations where fear causes others to react poorly.

Fear, as it turns out, is indeed a liar. And in my career, at no greater extent does this present itself than the LSAT. I mean that, the LSAT produces more single day anxiety than law school exams, than OCI, than the first day of law school classes. But if you could see that test for what it is; a simple array of questions that can be prepared for and performed better on over time; if you could see what I have seen -- that in my entire career I have never seen a single motivated individual have their LONG-TERM goals diminished even slightly by the test -- then test day would miss the one element that hurts so many people.

LSAT results can sting. They can make you take it again. Even a third time. Karen and I had a client who over a period of years took it 6 times. Guess where he is? His dream school. Guess where you will be in your career 15 years from now regardless of your LSAT? Exactly where you want to be if you work exceptionally hard in school (keep in mind you can transfer if you indeed work hard and the right way), behave like a consummate professional, find a mentor, and always always always stay positive. People are drawn to all of the above. A year or a few from now, your LSAT will be meaningless.

Take the test seriously, but don't let it manipulate you. Because when you think about it, the LSAT can do nothing to you -- only you can spark test day jitters. Be fearless -- see yourself walking into the test with an attitude of "how dare the LSAT try to control me," and keep that vision at the forefront of your test day thoughts. Walk in knowing that fear itself is a liar.