Military service and working for the Ministry
A mandatory leap in the dark
After my studies I was considered suitable for reinforcing the military apparatus. I tried to fulfil my military service within the field of psychology, but that was not so easy. First I was rejected by the Royal Airforce and the Royal Military Constabulary. But finally I was taken on as psychological researcher by the Royal Navy. “Provided I was prepared to adapt my alternative appearance”. Within the space of a few weeks’ training, an attempt was made to transform us into spick-and-span Navy officers. In terms of appearance they certainly succeeded. Within a week I was transformed from a semi-punk to a short-back-and-sides apprentice officer. Gone were the earring, the eyeliner, the Doc Martens and the leather jacket. The first weekend that I came home in my uniform, I noticed how differently the world reacted to my appearance. Cars slowed down (they probably thought I could hand out fines), children were kept away from me and I was even mocked by the alternative types from the art school, whom I could previously consider as my peer group. All in all, an excellent social psychology experiment.
The Marine week on the island of Texel, in particular, made an impression. In a week’s time we were broken down psychologically and built back up again. We had a really hard time but also learned a great deal about mental resilience and creating a team spirit. I still have a couple of good friends from that time. After the training, I was put to work as an applied researcher in the Social Scientific Research department. I was able to study the world of the Navy from a psychological perspective and was given a taste of military life. After my military service, I stayed on in Defence for a few years. Initially I worked as a psychological researcher at the Royal Army’s department of behavioural sciences and subsequently as a labour market researcher and policy-maker at the Ministry of Defence. In total, I worked for the Ministry for about five years. Then it was time for a change and I dived into the world of market research.