I am about 1,5-2 years in my PhD studies in the no-man's-land between bioinformatics, systems biology and proteomics. (If you are not sure what those terms are, read: "biomedical research")
Coming from a more mathematical/technical background I was thrilled to work in this field, and my M.Sc thesis was pretty successful. Now diving deeper and deeper into the field I feel much less motivated to go on. What frustrates me mostly, is how little we really understand of complex biological systems, and all our efforts in the field are essentially just waddling in the darkness, trying to find the "holy grail" that may or may not exist. I personally feel that there is a undeniable lack of rigor even amongst the most respectable of scientists out there:
most biologist really have no clue beyond pippetting liquids left and right, as soon as it comes to data analysis they expect something along the lines of: "computer say yes/no" (see: little britain's famous sketch)
computer scientists/mathematicians can't really cope with the uncertainties in the data
statisticians are essentially the con-artists of the field, rambling on undecipherable monologues. Sorry if I offend someone but it feels like one can prove/dis-prove anything with some creative use/interpretation of statistics.
Putting my rants aside, I went up and talked to one of the younger group leaders in our dept. I feel close enough to the person to give my honest opinion and respect his thoughts on the matter. The first thing he asked me after I was done rambling on, however, was how long it has been since I started. When I told him it's been about a year and a half, he smiled and said "well, it was about time". According to him, it's common for a PhD candidate to become jaded with his/her work somewhere between 18-months to 2 years in. He claimed that one simply gets deep enough into the field to see all the potential problems/pitfalls in research, and feel negatively about it all.
Which brings me to my question(s); is there such a thing as 18-months syndrome, in your experience? Could it be a discipline-dependent phenomenon or applicable to other disciplines? How can one avoid getting stuck in a tailspin (negative spiral)?
PS: I wanted to tag this question as "research-psychology" but don't have the rep to create a new tag. If someone with more rep agrees me on the tag, I would appreciate the help :)