Dr. Jan Mohlman, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University and William Paterson University in New Jersey, began contributing to NYC Grind in February, 2012. As many players would agree, the sport of pool has many psychological aspects, and through her writing, Jan explores these interesting dynamics. Jan Mohlman has published over 40 journal articles and book chapters, and now brings her perspective on pool and the mind to the readers of NYCgrind.com.
While Jan is originally from Santa Monica, CA, she found her passion for human behavior in NYC. “In the 1980′s, I was a bartender at various clubs and cafés in the East Village. I was immersed in the punk/new wave/no wave cultural scene, which was a unique moment in time,” said Jan. “The experiences I had and people I met during that phase of my life sparked my interest in psychology and human behavior, and led to my current career.”
Jan Mohlman went on to study at the University of Oregon, where she received her Ph.D in Psychology in 1998, and obtained her license as a clinical psychologist in 2002. In addition to teaching undergraduate psychology and her clinical practice, Jan also conducts research on topics including anxiety disorders, aging, and cognition.
Outside of her career in psychology, Jan also enjoys playing pool, and competes in leagues at Amsterdam Billiards on New York’s lower east side, where her team Armed and Dangerous took 2nd place in the fall playoffs only shortly after taking up the game. However, she did not have what many would consider a typical introduction to the game.
“Unlike some players on the scene, I became interested in billiards later in life. My interest in pool stemmed partly from my interest in the brain,” said Jan. “Research shows that after age 50, adults begin to lose the integrity of cells and tissue in certain parts of the brain. however, taking up new, challenging activities can partly remediate the loss. So when I recently turned 50, I started billiard lessons. I discovered that I have no natural talent for the game whatsoever! Despite this, it wasn’t long before I was playing pool most days of the week. It has been a life-changing experience and more fun than I ever imagined,” she went on to say.
Here is some more insight from my conversation with Dr. Jan Mohlman on her perspective on pool…
What keeps you interested in the game?
I know that I’ll be playing for the rest of my life, due to the infinite challenges posted by the game and the colorful, nonjudgmental people who are involved in the NYC pool community.
What do you think makes pool/billiards an important aspect of our culture?
I think pool becomes an increasingly intense experience at the individual level. It can lead to self-growth and new realizations about on’s ability and identity. It also fosters a very positive tip of social interaction. I hope that the sport continues to be elevated in the future.
Who are your favorite pro pool players and why?
The first players who come to mind are Jennifer Barretta and Allison Fisher. They are amazing players and role models who paved the way for the rest of us. I am left-handed and enjoy watching players with a natural, easy style. Because of this, Hunter Lombardo is one of my favorite players – I think he is a very creative and intuitive athlete. I am also drawn to strong personalities and emotional expressiveness so I like Alex Pagulayan. He adds an unpredictable aspect to the game that keeps it fun.
What types of music do you most enjoy or who are your favorite bands or artists?
There is no easy way to describe my eclectic taste in music. I still love the local NY bands from the 80’s and 90’s like Konk, Liquid Liquid, ESG, the Bush Tetras, and DeeLite. I like some alternative rock and dance music. I usually turn to Bruce Tantum’s column in Time Out New York to steer me toward new and interesting music.
What are your other hobbies or interests?
I don’t have much free time outside my academic work and billiard playing, however I am also involved with a community group who care for animals that have been abandoned in our local park. Over the years, about 100 cats have been abandoned there, as well as chickens, guinea hens, a large boa constrictor, parakeets, and an occasional dog. We humanely trap the animals, have them spayed or neutered, and provide ongoing food, medical care, and shelter until we find homes for them. It can be heartbreaking, but also quite uplifting when people come through on the rescuing end.
I am also very interested in art and design; I love to paint and do tile work and mosaics. If there were ten more hours in each day, I’d be an artist as well as a psychologist and pool player!
Dr. Jan Mohlman’s articles are published monthly on NYCgrind.com at the beginning of each month. If you have comments or questions, you can contact Jan at firstname.lastname@example.org.