The Atlantic

When Mentorship Goes Off Track

A psychology professor at the U.S. Naval Academy on why professional guidance doesn’t always work out as planned
Source: Tim Shaffer / Reuters

Mentorship is often cast as a positive experience. But for every scientist whose mentor enabled a research breakthrough and every high-school student whose mentor was key to receiving a college acceptance letter, there are people whose professional relationships were counterproductive or even damaging. And despite this reality, the potential pitfalls of mentorship are not as often discussed as the benefits of it.

For ’s series “,” I spoke with W. Brad Johnson, a professor in the department of leadership, ethics, and law at the United States Naval Academy. Johnson

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